Had an enjoyable cheeky pint or three with a pal of mine last night who I’m happy to say is a youthful, successful software salesman for IBM. On two occasions he reminded me of a wonderful technique to use when confronted with an intransigent or provocative question. To have this ability come naturally is a winner. The old adage is that you should forget pitching as a sport, as salespeople are exponentially more influential when asking questions. Here’s two examples that flowed last night:
a) from an interview:
Interviewer (who’s clearly trying to be an objectionable human being!) questioning fella having run a decent business for a year then decided to divest out: “why should I take on a failed businessmen?”
Answer: “who would you rather have on your team, someone that’s taken a bold step and proved they’ll put in the effort alongside you, or someone that doesn’t know what taking a risk is all about nor ever pushed themselves as far as possible?”
b) when asked for repaying cash from someone you do not actually owe money to:
Advisor: “for all the hassle this is causing, why don’t you just pay the money, as it’s not that much after all, is it?
Answer: “what would you do, pay the money and be annoyed with yourself, or respect your own principles and make sure that someone who doesn’t deserve something doesn’t get something for nothing?”
The point of these tales, is that by asking a question giving two alternatives can at the very least, stimulate a debate along your preferred agenda, and at best, gain ultimate acceptance for your contention.