April, 2014

Goodfellas-Clarify concepts like a gangster!

 Remember the restaurant scene between Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta in the movie "Goodfellas"? After Pesci tells a funny story Liotta laughs and tells him he's a funny guy. 

This sets Pesci off and he badgers Liotta:

 "What do you mean I'm funny?  Funny how? What's funny about it? Like I'm a clown? I'm here to amuse you?"


We can learn from this comedic scene about how we form questions and the reasons for them. 


In all communication skill training we focus on understanding and being able to form open and closed probes to achieve a desired outcome.  


Here's an example.  A prospect tells you he does business with a competitor because he finds their service to be more convenient.


If you're a good communicator you should not accept the word "convenient."  Convenient is a concept, similar to "funny"above.  To make any progress you must get the prospect to define convenient for you in behaviorally specific language, so that you can deal properly with the competitive difference, if any.


So you must act like Joe Pesci and ask similar questions, (of course omitting the implied threat of violence). Your questions, positioned a bit more delicately than the gangster's, might be:


"I'm interested in what you mean by 'convenient.'  Could you tell me more about that?  In what way is their service convenient?"


Or the prospect may say he doesn't want to go with you because it's a "hassle" to switch.  Immediately an alarm should go off in your head about the poor descriptor "hassle."  In what way is it a hassle?  What are the steps the prospect thinks he has to go through in order to switch?  By probing here you can learn what help you need to provide.


You can always have a conversation about specifics, but it's hard to refute concepts.  That's why politicians use conceptual language, avoiding specifics, in order to "install" the desired attitude in the voter's head.  "If this legislation is passed it will harm millions of retired people."  When you hear a broad statement like that, you should ask, "In what way?  What will happen?  Why do you say that?"


As a professional salesperson, you must be a skilled communicator, and one sure way to succeed is to avoid letting others use conceptual language against you when you know you have a winning offer. Like Joe Pesci, follow up right away and ask for specifics.


So, was this newsletter helpful?  Helpful how?  What's helpful about it?  Like I'm here to help you?


Think Like Your Customer!

I share stories and sales tips like this on my blog. See the link top right of this page.

Gregory LaMothe

Gregory LaMothe

ActionSystems, Principal