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Greg Nanigian & Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA

Fishing is very popular down in the Florida Keys, and one of the favorite catches for fishermen and tourists is called the bonefish. Most people fish for it as a sport rather than for food, and there is an art to catching one.

If you're a New Englander heading down to the Florida Keys to fish for bonefish, your initial instinct might be to bait the hook with shrimp, cast out, and wait for a nibble on the line. However, this approach often leads to frustration as the hook comes back empty time and time again.

So, what's the secret to successfully catching bonefish? Let's imagine you call over a local fishing guide to show you the ropes. The guide would bait the hook with shrimp, cast out, and wait for a nibble, just like you. But here's the difference: instead of immediately trying to reel in the fish, the experienced guide would start stripping the line off the reel. After a minute or two, the guide might turn to you and say, "Now's good. Are you ready for it?" And only then would you start reeling it in.

You might wonder why the guide chooses to strip the line instead of reeling in the fish right away. Well, it turns out that bonefish feed on shrimp found in shallow waters. As soon as they snatch a shrimp, they quickly flee to deeper water to avoid predators like flamingos. Flamingos are known to swoop down and try to eat the bonefish while they're hunting for shrimp. So, to escape becoming Flamingo fillet, the bonefish seeks safety in deeper water. Once it feels secure, it finally swallows the shrimp and the hook. With the hook inside the fish, you can now set the hook and reel it in. Trying to reel in the fish too quickly will only result in the hook coming loose, leaving you empty-handed.

Strip-Lining Effectively Uncovers Pain

The fishing technique I just described is called strip-lining, but the concept extends beyond fishing. It can be a powerful metaphor when integrated into your selling techniques to uncover a prospect's pain. Moreover, strip-lining becomes even more effective when combined with a lesson from the great physicist Sir Isaac Newton.

Newton's theory states that objects at rest tend to stay at rest, while objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Interestingly, this theory also applies to selling. Prospects can be neutral, positive, or negative. Neutral prospects are like a pendulum at rest, showing no inclination toward either direction. Positive prospects are leaning toward potentially buying from you, while negative prospects are moving away from doing business with you.

Many salespeople find positive prospects easier to sell to, but that's when they rely solely on traditional selling approaches. However, once you learn about Negative Reverse Selling®, particularly strip-lining, both positive and negative prospects become much easier to sell.

Negative Reverse Selling involves acting in a manner that is the exact opposite of what the prospect expects. For example, salespeople might sound like they're trying to talk prospects out of buying their product or service. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but believe it or not, this approach can work when executed correctly. Strip-lining is a specific technique under the Negative Reverse Selling umbrella. Now, let's take a closer look at this sales tool and discuss the prospect who is perhaps the toughest to sell.

Selling to the Neutral Prospect

Neutral prospects, whose pain you haven't yet uncovered, are often the toughest to sell to. Why is that? Well, they are stagnant and not emotionally involved. They lack strong feelings, whether positive or negative, about your offering. When prospects lean toward positivity or negativity, they are at least feeling something. But what can you do with a neutral prospect? You need to get them swinging on the emotional pendulum.

Now, consider this: Would it be easier to get a neutral prospect moving toward the negative or toward the positive? In other words, would it be easier to talk the neutral prospect out of doing business with you or to guide them toward doing business with you? Without a doubt, it's easier to move the neutral prospect toward the negative. By suggesting the opposite of what the prospect expects, you disarm them. Since they anticipate your efforts to convince them to work with you, they are more likely to move in a negative direction. Surprisingly, by getting neutral prospects to move toward the negative, they become easier to sell. This happens because you have set them in motion and emotionally engaged them.

I understand this approach may contradict everything you've learned about selling, but stay with me here. In our next blog post, we will delve into several strip-lining techniques that effectively turn your neutral prospects negative and ultimately yield positive results.

Stay tuned!

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