Sidney C. Walker
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July 2007


by Sidney C. Walker


Early in my 27-year coaching career I discovered that it worked better to get permission to talk about subjects that were challenging for people to talk about. If someone says they are working really hard and not making the money they want to make, you don’t jump in and say, “I’ve got some great ideas on how you can make more money, let me tell you what they are.” Instead you take an approach that is more respectful and more permission–based. You say, “I have had some experience in helping people with that issue, would you like to hear a couple of ideas that have worked for other people?” If the other person says, “Sure,” you have respectfully included the other person in the process and prepared him or her for the discussion to follow. What usually happens when you treat people with this level of respect is that they feel an increased degree of safety in talking with you. You have demonstrated you care about them and don’t want to start into a conversation they are not ready to have.

In a sales interview, ending with a question is one of the most powerful communication tools I have ever run across. It is so powerful, it deserves more discussion than I have room for here, but we can get started. One of the easiest ways to end whatever you are saying in a question is to ask the other person if they agree or how they feel about what you have said. Maybe you are giving your version of the best investment philosophy or maybe you are on your soapbox about permanent life insurance. The most important thing to do at the end of that oration is to say, “Obviously, Bob, I feel strongly about this. But what is really important is how do YOU feel about it?” Two wonderful things happen here. First, the client feels included in the conversation because now it is his turn to have an opinion and, second, you get to learn how the client really feels which is invaluable!

ACTION TO TAKE: Practice turning whatever you typically make statements about into questions. This takes some extra thought. I have given you the easiest way to do this which is to ask your clients what they think or how they feel after you have given your perspective. Another way to practice turning statements into questions is instead of telling your clients what to do, give them a couple of options and ask them which they would rather do. The hardest part is to catch yourself before you make the statement and then turn it into a question for the client.

More on this subject next time. Let me know what happens. Send me an email. I predict you will be pleasantly surprised.

Enjoy the summer,

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