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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA

In our previous blogs, we've been reviewing Negative Reverse Selling and how it is very effective in creating great bonding and rapport with sales prospects. Negative Reverse Selling is a way of saying and doing the opposite of what the prospect expects from a salesperson, disarming them and creating trust with them. One of its more compelling techniques is called strip-lining, a method of using reverse questions to get the prospect talking, and you keep "throwing more line and let them swim". However, you need to do this step right or it could backfire on you. When you do it correctly, prospects feel like they are in control of the conversation, and you have a better chance of making a sale. Practice this step frequently in low risk situations before using it on your biggest and best prospects.

What should you practice? Getting the fit right means executing as follows:

• Neutral prospects get very hard strip-lines, such as, "It sounds like you're very happy and I should leave. Before I go, what do you like about who you're doing business with now?"

• Negative prospects get hard strip-lines, but not as hard as neutral prospects. For example, "Based on what you just said about your current vendor, it makes sense to me why you're not interested in switching your business to another company. We get great feedback like that from our customers, too, but your vendor sounds really good at what they do. I don't know if you can do any better than that. There doesn't seem to be much opportunity for us to work together here, is there?"

• Positive prospects get strip-lines that are just a light tug: "Thanks for reaching out to us. I have to say, your friend Bronwyn gets almost all the credit for having a great experience with us. She was very good about explaining the application problem, and that really helped her have a happy outcome with us. Since I don't know your application, I'm not sure if I can help you at this point. Could you be nice enough to tell me about it?"

In all three examples, you'll find three components. Look at each of them, and you'll see how strip-line responses are structured.

1. The first component is a build-up (a compliment or validation of the prospect's point of view). In the above, an example of that was, "It sounds like you're very happy."

2. The second component is a takeaway (a conclusion that goes in the opposite direction to what the prospect expects). In the above, an example was, "... and I should leave."

3. The third component is a question (a continuation of the discussion). In the above, an example was, "Before I go, what do you like about who you're doing business with now?"

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