By Christopher Zoukis

Salespeople want to make more money.  The trick to making more money is making more sales.  And the trick to making more sales is, according to Dan Seidman, learning to speak the buyer’s language.  Once salespeople learn to interpret buyers’ verbal cues, they can choose the appropriate words to influence the buyers’ decisions.   Seidman’s book, The Secret Language of Influence teaches salespeople how to listen, gain psychological insight, and then influence others.

Patterns of Interruption

Seidman states that all buyers maintain patterns.  They do the same thing in the same way over and over again.  They respond to sales pitches the same way time after time.  The example is a buyer to whom the author has left forty-six voice mails over a three year period.  The buyer has never returned one of the calls.  Frustrated, Seidman leaves another voice mail announcing that the buyer has won the “prestigious Most Elusive Prospect Award,” for never having returned a call. Author Dan Seidman / Photo courtesy

Unsurprisingly, the buyer, now angry, returns the call.  The buyer eventually becomes a client.  Seidman’s story illustrates what psychologists call “pattern interrupt,” which is a method of changing people’s usual manner of thinking.  The author demonstrates how to use pattern interrupt in situations where buyers use their regular or usual brush-off techniques. 

In the example, the prospective buyer attempts to brush-off the salesperson by citing that the business environment is tough at the present time, thus the buyer does not have the budget to make any purchases.  Seidman’s pattern interrupt is to respond by asking an apparently irrelevant question, a non-sequitur.  The implication is that the buyer, because things are so bad, will probably soon be jumping out of his office window.  The buyer admits that business is “not that bad.”  Now that the pattern is broken, the salesperson may make their presentation.

Moving To and Away 

The author states that there are two basic types of buyers:  “people either move toward ideas or away from them.”  The type of buyer who moves toward ideas is open to new ideas and opportunities and responds with encouragement.  Buyers who move away from ideas play “the devil’s advocate.”  They quickly point out concerns and potential problems.  A test is provided to determine which type of person the reader is.

The book goes on to discuss effective sales approaches to each type of buyer.  Buyers who move toward ideas respond well to descriptions of “features and benefits” the salesperson can provide.  The more personalized and specific the benefits are to the individual buyer as well as the buyer’s company, the better the chance of a sale.  Buyers who move away from ideas require a different approach.  Since their mentality is oriented toward “solving problems rather than attaining goals,” salespeople should focus on the “problems” their product or service can solve, rather than the benefits.  This involves asking problem-oriented questions, which indicates that the salesperson recognizes the problem.  It also relieves the salesperson from having to “handle objections,” because they are not offering anything.

Seidman offers a three-step strategy to help salespeople identify whether clients move toward ideas or away from ideas.  The three steps are simple:  make a list of benefits and problems provided by the salesperson’s product or service; make a list of questions designed to evoke emotional responses to each benefit or problem; and ask the client why “X is important” to them.  The client’s responses will help the salesperson determine whether the client is an “Away buyer” or a “To buyer.” 

The salesperson may then personalize their approach based on the “dialect of the buyer, either To or Away.”