Friday, November 14, 2008


By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, November 14, 2008

While attending a training class the presenter discussed the story as to how she was computer challenged and when her techie rep would say something or make a technical claim as to what the software would do, her response was “So what!” I took that to mean that the techie did not make his case for the value of the product. “So what” got me thinking. It is a great response to a question or statement because it gets the other person to develop the thought more thoroughly.

“So what” however seemed a bit condescending to me but it set me on the right track. What if instead of “So What” we say, “Really………” It’s the dots in that statement that make the difference. Where “So What” almost seems as a put down, “Really…….” (with the voice rising towards the end of the dots) makes a statement which in itself is a question, “tell me more!” It suggests that you did a pretty good job up and until this point but you left something off the argument or your position.

One simple little word that when properly used could change the face of your relationships. Here are some examples of how it could work for you in your personal life and in your business life:

Seller: Your price is just too high! You: Really……..? What you are asking is “tell me more.” If our price is too high, what is your next step Mr. Seller? My price is too high as compared to what? The answers are not as important as getting the Seller to further explain the seller’s position. You win by getting the seller/customer talking. As long as you are not doing the talking/defending you are learning.

Buyer: With all that is going on, we have decided to wait. You: Really . . . . . . Again, you don’t jump on the tail end of the buyer’s comments with defending questions or comments but rather give the buyers an opportunity to expand on their thought. Why have they decided to wait? What are they waiting for? What might cause them to change their mind? If not now, when would they be ready to buy? Will they be buying it through you? Most sales associates, certainly not you, would jump on the end of the buyer’s statement by telling the buyer how stupid he/she/they are for not taking advantage of this great opportunity. Get the buyer talking, their reasons for wanting to wait might actually be the right thing to do – at this point you don’t really know so find out what those reasons are. When the buyer appears to be finished, say, “Great, tell me more.”

Spouse: You never listen to a word I say. (Now who amongst us has not heard that?) You: Really…. In other words, what do you mean? When have I done that? What do you want me to do? How do you feel about that? Can you imagine using “So What” in this case – better duck fast! On one occasion, I simply moved my lips without saying anything back to her – that did not go over well either so I would not try that response. “Oh Yea!” is another failed response; tried that one as well. Silence is the best response. Create a pause and ask for more information in a quiet, reserved voice. “Really….” Or failing that, try, “Thank you for that. Can you tell me more or can you tell me how I can become a better listener?” Jeffrey Gitomer suggest that we never say we are sorry but rather say thank you – words mean thing.

I have found that arguments usually begin with a statement, usually a simple one. But then the other party literally jumps all over the statement because the original comment came out of the blue, meaning it was unexpected. Whenever anyone is caught off guard the natural tendency is to “react” rather than “respond.” The only time it is proper to “react” occurs when your life may be threatened and the best reaction is to get out of there. But when you respond you do so out of proper thinking. When you respond you tend to engage; when you react you tend to excite. Which would you prefer to happen? (For you-know-who, that is not a trick question.) By saying “Really…..” you are posturing for time to think and at the same time getting the other person to expand on their position.

Child: I want this Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (at the check out line in the supermarket. Ever notice where they put the candy bars, at your knee level, but at your child’s eye level). And you the parent or guardian instinctively should say, “Really……” (instead of NO!) as if there is more to the child’s request. Let the child develop a logical reason why he or she wants the candy bar. But here is an extremely valuable teachable moment for you – TAKE NOTES! You are about to get a lesson in sales from THE MASTER SALESMAN! There is no better salesperson than a child – I know – I was a child and I was able to get people to buy me a great many things for which I had no money. At some point in time, I lost all my sales techniques learned in the streets and through the Children’s University of Hard Knocks. Face it, we were great salespeople, everyone of us. What happened? We grew up. We lost our focus. We began to care what the people around us thought about what we were saying or doing and therefore lost our most effective sales techniques. You know I am right on this, well maybe everyone but you-know-who knows. How many more sales might you have if you acted like a child, being less serious and having more fun with your customers? Yes, you are there to represent their best interest but I could make a case that at least one faction of their best interest is to have fun in the process.

In my listing and selling days I found humor the best ice breaker to any conversation as long as it did not insult anyone except for possibly me and you-know-who. If you can get your probable buyer or probable seller laughing WITH you and not AT you, and not at someone else’s expense, you have a greater chance of making the sale – this is my opinion because it worked 100% of the time for me.

I would use cartoons, some original, most not, on most of my flyers and post cards I mailed out or handed out. On one occasion I mailed 8 post cards to 8 For Sale By Owners where I personally drew a prisoner sitting behind bars, chained with a ball-and-chain. High on the wall was a barred window with a crooked For-Sale-By-Owner sign with cob webs hanging from it out in the yard. Bricks were poking through the interior plastered wall and the prisoner had a longing look on his face. The caption was actually a question. “What is the difference between a For-Sale-By-Owner and a Prisoner? The prisoner doesn’t have to stay by the phone waiting for a probable buyer to call.” Of the 8 cards I mailed, 1 called me immediately and the owners asked if I drew the cartoon. I said yes and she said she wanted to work with someone who had a sense of humor. She had never heard of me before – my bad.

Another demonstration of humor involved a high-rise condominium development on the beach in Mississippi. There were no units for sale but I had a buyer from St. Louis who wanted a unit on the beach. I made up a post card with a real estate related cartoon on it and mailed it to every property owner in the building. Within 3 days I had 3 calls, 1 listing and 1 sale resulted. One person specifically mentioned he was attracted by the humor.

You: Jim, you got a little of track, where are you going with this?

Me: Really…..

You: Yes, you started out talking about using the word “Really…..” instead of immediately responding and then you switched to using humor, what was that all about?

Me: Really………………………………………………….