Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, August 31, 2023
If are you not old enough to remember the television series, “Colombo”, you missed one of the greatest sales techniques known to man. In every episode, and usually more than once within the episode, Lieutenant Colombo, Los Angles Homicide Detective, played by Peter Falk, would interview a person he suspected of committing a murder. He would get up to leave and usually get all the way to being half way out the door and he would turn and say, “…Oh, one more thing.” Why is this such a great sales technique? Because as a person in sales, you are a threat to most people who really do not want to buy anything, especially from someone right in their face. When Colombo got up and appeared to be leaving, the suspect or in the case of sales, the buyer or seller, automatically goes into a relaxed mode and is very happy to see him leave. Again, that is when Colombo turns and asks, “Oh, one more thing” question, catching the suspect or in your case, a buyer or seller off guard and more at ease.
How could someone in sales use this technique? Great question. Let’s say you are a real estate agent meeting with homeowners thinking of selling (listing) their home. You do your listing presentation but they did not make the decision to list with you. (Note, that should be a huge indication that you are not as good as you might think you are at interviewing sellers). You pull a Colombo and gather up all your material and appear to leave. When you get to the door you turn and ask, “I hope you don’t mind (one more thing), what is the real reason you decided not to list with me?” They are now more relaxed and oftentimes will tell you the real reason they didn’t list with you. You can then say, “I’m soooo sorry I did not explain that in more detail, may I?” This same principle would apply to any one in sales like insurance, cars, antiques, you name it.
Side Note: As for real estate agents going on listing appointments; I started a procedure totally by accident every time I went on a listing presentation. I would sit in my car and try to clear my mind of as much as I possibly could. I would then imagine myself sitting at the owners table with the owners signing the listing agreement, I could actually see it in my mental brain monitor screen. I did this for just a couple of minutes and it put me in the right mindset to make an effective listing presentation. For the most part I also KNEW the sellers were expecting me and probably watching me from the moment I pulled up. I therefore KNEW I was already “on stage” and being interviewed by the sellers. I would get out of the car (parked on the street). Stand by my car with a clipboard in my hand. I would look to the right, then to the left and then across the street all the time taking notes. Then I would look at the owners’ home, again taking notes. If the Sellers were in fact aware that I was already there, they KNEW that I noticed the boat parked in the neighbor’s driveway or the lack of maintenance of the home across the street, or the broken shutters on the owners’ home upstairs windows. They KNEW that I KNEW and they also KNEW that I KNEW what I was doing! Put a check mark in my favor if they were paying attention.
Why am I writing about the Colombo Technique? So glad you asked. I no longer watch or listen to the news, national and local. I have my reasons but the main reason is that I have been listening to what is referred to as the “alternative media.” There is a HUGE lesson I learned from these independent journalists, as good as they are. The lesson is simple, THEY TALK TO MUCH AND THEY TALK TO LONG, AND THEY TALK MUCH TOO SLOWLY and. in 2023 with the advent of all of the advances in technology, THEY USE WAY TOO MANY GRAPHICS BEFORE THEY GET TO THE POINT! It takes them forever to get to the point(s) they want to make. In that regard, I am no different than most of the people I know; we all believe our time is valuable and we cannot take an hour or so to listen to someone’s podcast or sales pitch that could have been done in half the time.. In other words, GET TO THE POINT AS QUICK AS YOU CAN!
Did you know that you can listen and absorb what you hear much better when the speaker on a Podcast speaks fast but not too fast? Whether you know it or not, there is usually a small GEAR icon on the bottom of your computer screen when you listen to a video or podcast. It is usually on the bottom right side of the podcast screen. If you click on that GEAR, more often than not, you can adjust the speed of the person talking. Years ago, I had a real estate trainer suggest I listen to a tape recording of a very good presentation. I told him I always had a hard time listening to training or motivational tapes because they put me to sleep by talking too slow. He suggested I buy a tape player from the now extinct Radio Shack that has controls to adjust the speed and pitch of the presenter’s voice. I did and it was eye-opening and terrific; I wore the thing out. I could listen to a 30-minute cassette in about 18 minutes. But when you speed it up as fast as it would go, you had to really listen hard and stay focused or you missed important information. It was great. We no longer listen to cassette tapes; we have it all on digital but the premise still applies. For most recorded presentations on the Internet, I can listen at 1.5 times the normal speed and I rarely have a difficult time following along. It too is a GREAT tool for learning because the faster the presenter talks the harder you focus on listening and thus you tend to learn more because you are paying attention.
Now for the meat of this Nugget! TIME! More specifically OTHER PEOPLE’S TIME! If a podcaster really appreciated their audience’s time, they would make their presentations SHORT and SWEET. The same principle applies to people in sales. Do more listening and less talking. How do you do that? You learn to be more like Colombo and ask as many questions as you possibly can AND THEN LISTEN. Not just listen, you LISTEN INTENTLY AND YOU TAKE NOTES WITH THEIR PERMISSION! You would be amazed at what you can learn by asking questions, listening and you doing less talking. My advice would be:
· KEEP IT SHORT
First set out the topics you want to cover and then create a worksheet of BULLET POINT TOPICS. The fewer the words to identify the topic, the better. If the label is short, maybe the presentation on the subject will be short as well.
· 60 MINUTES/30 MINUTES
Try to keep your presentation under 30 minutes but no more than 60. My guess is that you lose listeners for every minute over 30 minutes.
· AHs and ANDs and other BS
If you are making a presentation either to a live audience or on a recording, first make a recording that you can listen to see how YOU sound. You will be amazed that you don’t sound like you think you sound. Log every pause on the recording such as when you use the AH word or the AND word. Also listen for words and/or phrases that you tend to repeat over and over throughout your presentation such as “you know what I mean’s”; it drives people crazy. It is even more important if you are making a live presentation to a buyer or seller. Finally avoid using the word “but.” When you make a partial statement, you may get the audience or customers to agree with you until you insert the word “but”, which is word that causes people to STOP! Example, “We all know that this is true, but.” The audience/customer will then delete everything you said before the word BUT. It is such a simple technique yet people are totally unaware of what they have been doing by using the word BUT. Try it. “We all know that this is true, AND….” Hopefully I have made my point!
I find it very help when presenters give summaries of what the MEAT of their presentation had been and they do this of course at the very end of their presentation, live or recorded. It is also a GREAT time to repeat critical information you want total agreement on and/or passed, such as website addresses, email addresses, or telephone numbers. That gives the listeners the chance to again write these down if they did not catch the importance when first given during the presentation. When you give numbers or web addresses, slow your speech pattern down considerably so people can write down what you say. Repeat phone numbers in case they didn’t get it the first time. If you are giving a live presentation such as to a buyer or seller, a great technique is to give them your business card as the LAST THING you do, not the FIRST! Have cards WITHOUT your cell phone number on them. Then as a parting gesture, tell them, “Oh one more thing, I feel so good about working with you, let me write my cell phone number on the card for you, please feel free to call me.” IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are in sales, especially real estate sales, you owe it to your family to be with your family both physically and mentally when you are all together. Tell your customers that you oftentimes turn your cell phone off when you are with customers and/or family, especially at meal times. Just leave a message and you promise you will call them back. Set the parameters of how you conduct your business.
“Oh, one more thing!” I mentioned listening earlier in this Nugget. Ziz Ziglar, famous motivational speaker said that we are born with two ears and one mouth therefore we should listen twice as much as we talk. You have no clue as to how important that is in the sales business. Jeffrey Gitomer writes regarding sales, if you are talking, no one is buying. Whether you are giving a face-to-face presentation or if you are recording a podcast, the most important factor to consider is the other person’s TIME and what THEY HAVE TO SAY!
Oh, one more, one more