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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA,

Our most recent blogs have been covering the Dummy Curve. Using the Dummy Curve you would be acting like you are a little "less okay" than the prospect (inside you feel great though). It's disarming and it helps with bonding and rapport to the point where your prospect feels empowered talking to you. When using Dummy Curve techniques the prospect lets down their defense wall or down. Then it gets very easy to find out if they have pain - a deep seated emotional need that compels them to buy your product or service.

The Dummy Curve works great, however, it’s not just the words you say, but your tonality and body language as well.  Becoming adept at playing the dummy won’t happen overnight, so practice it until it becomes second nature. You especially don’t want to let on that you are acting the part of a dummy, so don’t sabotage yourself while in-front of the client. Here’s what I mean:

Picture a prospect and a financial planning salesperson who are in the Pain Step. The prospect says, “It looks like I’m way behind on saving for my kids’ college expenses.”  The salesperson says, “How does that make you feel?”  The prospect responds, “Well, if I can’t send my kids to college that would be awful and I’d feel terrible.”  The salesperson then smiles because he can’t contain how good he feels at having uncovered the prospect’s pain. Now what happens? You guessed it. The prospect clams up and may even become angry.

Smiling, even slightly at the wrong time can alert your prospect to your acting or tactics, sabotaging your dummy.  Don’t do it.  When you send the wrong nonverbal message, bonding and rapport is thrown to the curve, the prospect’s defense wall comes up, and the sales call has been ruined. Why? Because you looked and acted more OK than the prospect.

If you remember nothing else from our discussion of the Dummy Curve, remember this: People become OK through the empowerment of helping and by finding someone who is less OK than they are. If you send the wrong nonverbal message, prospects may get to OK by ending the sales call and resolving not to do business with someone who smiled at their pain.

What is the proper behavior when hearing pain? You must look like you are in pain, too (look not-OK). Act like Columbo, the famous TV detective. What would Columbo do if he heard a criminal make an incriminating remark?  He wouldn’t start smiling, I can tell you that much. He’d most likely pretend he was leaving, and then say his famous line as he bumps his forehead with his hand… “Just one more thing”, then he lowers the subtle boom on the suspect.

It’s okay to feel OK on the inside, but don’t show it on the outside.  Maintain that poker face of concern and care.  This creates a safe environment for the prospect to talk and share their pain.  Remember this rule:  “Selling is a Broadway play performed by a psychiatrist.”   It may sound complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple.  In order to sell, you must understand how people express their emotion, and you must brush up on your acting skills.


The goal is to make sure the prospect feels okay about you and is willing to share their pain with you.  Imagine you are calling on a high level CEO of an influential accounting firm and your research shows he is well educated and speaks with an advanced vocabulary.  When you get there, you try and mirror and match him with your own speaking skills, but not enough to out do him or her.  Let them still be more OK than you. On the other hand, if the prospect is more simple in nature, dummy down below their level. Talking big words with this person will make them feel less OK, and more intimidated by you. Not a good recipe for closing a deal.

In order to dummy-up effectively, you need to understand your prospect and the subtle nuances of communicating properly. You don’t want to dummy down your communication to the point where you begin making the prospect think, “Why would I do business with this person? He doesn’t get me.”  Or even worse, think you are not capable.  Nothing I have shared with you here implies that you should dull your mind or dumb down your approach. On the contrary, you need to use the third stage of the Dummy Curve as a precision tool, one that helps you appear unassuming, so that prospects feel more comfortable discussing their pain.

In our next blog, we will discuss why it’s important to let the prospect do the math. Stay tuned.

Want to learn more about The Dummy Curve and other Sandler techniques? Check out our upcoming workshops and sign-up for one at no cost to you.  Here's a link to our Eventbrite page, where you can find a workshop on a date and at a location convenient for you.  Be sure to use the Promotional Code: CrashAClass to attend free of charge.

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