Sales Training

Do you suffer from happy ear syndrome?


Many of the students in my weekly sales training program know that my favourite Sandler rule is Rule #3 – No Mutual Mystification. For those of you unfamiliar with the David Sandler’s 49 Rules, let me explain. Think back to a time when you came from a sales meeting (or any meeting, conversation or interaction with another human being) where you felt totally jazzed and pumped about the opportunity.   Then after the euphoria wore off, you’re left with the unanswered question: What happens now?

And if you’re feeling this way, chances are, your prospect is feeling the same way. We’re all familiar with those business phrases which sound impressive, but don’t really tell you a lot or provide much clarity.  When someone says to you “Great, let’s move things forward” or “Let’s take the next step." What does that mean to you? Does it mean they are ready to sign an agreement and hand over their money?  Or does it mean they are willing to commit to another meeting … at some point in time.  Or is it somewhere in between?

Author Julian Barnes accurately penned “Mystification is simple; clarity is the hardest thing of all.” Mystification is readily accepting an answer or phrase without truly understanding what it means. So how do we avoid the mystification and arrive at a clear understanding with our prospect?

We ask questions; a lot of questions. And we tell our prospect what our next steps are.  Let me give you an example of what this may sound like:

Prospect: That sounds great, Lisa. Let’s move things forward.
Lisa: George, I’m happy to hear that. May I ask you a question? When people say move things forward, they typically mean that they are ready to sign the agreement, pay the deposit and choose a start date for the project. Is that what you’re telling me you’re ready to do?
Prospect: Woah, no!  I’m not ready to do that.
Lisa: Thanks for the clarification, George. Can you help me understand what you see as the next step, when you say you want to move things forward?
Prospect: I need to bring two other people into the discussion and get their feedback. I’ll be talking to them shortly.
Lisa: Ah, so there are other people involved in the decision process. Can we set up a meeting between the four of us, so I can answer any questions that your colleagues may have?  How does next Thursday at 10 am sound? I can send a calendar invite to the participants so everyone has it in their calendar.
Prospect: Yeah, that should work.

I shudder to think of how much time (and money) I might have wasted writing up an agreement, creating an invoice and ordering materials, had I not clarified the prospect’s response.

From the prospect’s viewpoint, how might I be perceived when I send him an agreement, and deposit invoice prior to a final decision being reached?  Would I be viewed as pushy, and possibly lose his trust?  Quite possibly.

No mutual mystification means both parties know and understand what is going to happen next, even if it’s a decision not to buy and to end the relationship.

It’s easy for us to interpret messages and communications in ways that make us feel good and give us hope.  I call that having “happy ears"— hearing what we want to hear, instead of what the prospect is actually saying. Eliminating mutual mystification builds trust and ensures that both parties have a clear of understanding what what’s going to happen next. BL

Lisa Von Massow is the owner and prinicpal of Sandler Training—Endurance Partners Inc., located at 461 Green Rd, Unit 11 in Stoney Creek. For more information, call 905.963.1339, email or visit www.