Build Your Case on Common Ground – Part 2 of 3


Read Part 1

As leaders, we are constantly trying to find ways to modify behaviors of our salespeople that will, in turn, drastically improve their selling efficiency and effectiveness, which will ultimately increase their sales results.


…people are rarely made to change their minds


Our position in modifying their behavior is no different than their position in trying to precipitate action from a prospect. It, therefore, stands to reason that by using the same skills we teach, we not only increase the effectiveness of our effort as a change agent, but also teach or model the behavior we are asking them to adopt.

To develop conditions where minds and behavior can be changed, common ground must be established. Otherwise, we are swimming against the tide, an activity which not only gets us nowhere but also makes us very tired emotionally, mentally, and physically.

The best way to illustrate this is in the area of objection resolution. At some point in a sales call, an objection is voiced, which can slow down or stall progress. The first and commonly overlooked step in objection resolution is to establish common ground, or to prepare the soil, by an empathetic statement that diminishes the resistance to our response or resolution and permits our questions and statements to be heard without combativeness.

For example, the objection a salesperson hears may be, “I have a good personal relationship with (current provider.)” An effective empathetic response could be, “I agree; a good personal relationship, in concert with a well-designed strategic plan, is important in reaching your specific objectives.” Now, we have developed common ground and empathy, while reframing and adding to the issue to change the perspective of the prospect.

We will not pursue objection resolution further… that is the topic for another day. Let’s instead focus on the use of empathy built on common ground.


To develop conditions where minds and behavior can be changed, common ground must be established.


How might this be used in your relationship with a professional reporting to you? You may feel that they need to make more calls, be more effective in pre-call planning, or work more on their questioning skills, and you relate this need to them. Their response, implicit or explicit, might be, “I simply don’t have enough time; I’m swamped as it is.” Your response to them may be, “I agree – balancing your time between what is important and what is urgent is difficult, yet critical to your sales success. Now let’s look at your schedule to see how you can rebalance your priorities.” You now have shown empathy for their plight, not given in to their rebuff, reframed the importance of your position, and offered to help them, all without injecting combativeness and also built on common ground.

Continued in the Part 3

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