Socrates, a great salesman! He did a good job selling ideas, but he would have been a very good chariot salesman, too.

Author:Wiesner, Pat - Brief Article

At the risk of being repetitious, I want to recall a couple of sales experiences I have already written about:

One time I was on a call with an advertising-space saleswoman, helping her set up for a presentation at a large, big-city ad agency This was to be a very big sale if we got it.

We were setting up in the 21st-floor conference room at the agency as some of the lower-level account execs began to arrive. I was very nervous, and I really didn't have much to do. Everything important about the presentation was being handled by the sales-rep on the account, but I was intensely aware of just how much business this particular agency could send our way ... or keep us from getting.

Wondering if she was equally nervous, I asked her what the strategy was.

"I'm going to find out if they like us," she told me. Before I could say any more, the top guns at this agency came rolling in and sat down.

Our presenter began: "We have set up to give you a half-hour presentation on why our magazine should be on the must advertise' list for five of the major accounts at this agency. If you already agree, we can skip the presentation and move on to ideas we have to help you create dynamite programs. Have you already made that decision?"

She stopped and waited.

After a few smiles passed around the table, the boss said, "You know, we have made that decision. Let's move on to other things you can do for us."

I decided then that this salesperson was going to be very successful indeed.


Why? Because they got results by asking the question that was on their mind. Socrates taught that the best way to teach was to draw lessons out of students by asking questions. Scholars now call it the Socratic Method.

To this day no one has improved on the technique for opening up people to find out what they think--leading them into a discussion around the points you want to make.

The best salespeople (and the best managers for that matter) are the ones who not only ask questions, but who know where they are going with their questions.

Questions like: What...

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