Build Your Case on Common Ground – Part 1 of 3


Years of observing human nature and being involved in a profession where persuasion is a coveted skill have led me “kickin’ and screamin'” to a conclusion.  People infrequently change their minds.  You’re probably thinking, “Who are you kidding?” My __________ (fill in the blank) changes his/her mind more often than the numbers on a digital clock.  Or, my prospects seem to change their mind from one contact to the next, or frequently during a call.  Okay, let me state it differently: people are rarely made to change their mind.

When people change their mind, it usually comes from one of a number of reasons; an argument, regardless of its logic and skillful application, is not one of them.  A change in circumstances, seeing an issue from a different perspective, feelings of empathy, or emotions regarding a situation seem to be the catalysts that cause one to change their mind on an issue.

Think about it!  When was the last time someone was intelligent enough in constructing an argument or artful enough in its application to force you to change your mind, especially on a long or deeply felt conviction?

On the other hand, you can probably recall more than a few discussions where the exchange of ideas in a non-pressured environment helped you change your mind on an issue.  You probably felt that the one with a different viewpoint was engaging you in conversation and “heard what you were saying.” Or perhaps they had something in common with you and established this connection by appealing to your emotions regarding the issue under consideration.  Emotions are vastly underrated as drivers in the sale.  As a matter of fact, emotions usually run alongside or ahead of logic, but rarely behind in the process of decision making.

Regardless of your view of the historical significance of Jesus, most would agree that he was, by all accounts, a skillful teacher, uniquely aware of the human condition, and in tune with the way people think and make decisions.  In his teaching, he often used illustrations or parables to communicate points of truth, while also drawing on the emotions of the learner.  This approach and perspective has profound application to what we do.  Consider this.   Parables permit a point to be made through an illustration without directing it at the listener.  The hearer can then make his or her own application.  Parables are also used to show empathy or feeling by establishing common ground through an illustration that is parallel or common to the situation faced by the listener.

Okay, so much for the philosophy; where’s the application?  The links from philosophy to application are manifold. Let’s look at only a few in defining actionable skills for use by sales leaders and sales professionals alike.

Continued in the Part 2

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