Statements inform – questions persuade – A sales tip


Sales Tip

Looking back through the history of sales, there has been an over abundance of myths, magic tricks and other forms of ancient folklore that have dominated the landscape.

Unfortunately some of this misinformation has escaped into the present. Perhaps one of the more insidious ideas is this notion about the importance of the product pitch.  Even today some salespeople spend endless hours memorizing product features and rehearsing their product pitch.

There is a simple truth from the psychology of persuasion:  statements inform people but only questions can persuade people.  So if you are an engineer and your want another engineer to understand the characteristics of a product, then “informing” is what you want to do.  On the other hand, if you are a salesperson and want a buyer to buy from you rather than your competition then that is an interaction about “persuasion.”

Selling a product is about persuasion – talking about a product is about informing.  This, of course, is why all those people make such a fuss about avoiding feature pitches.  A feature of a product has no inherent value.  A feature has value only when it solves a problem that matters to the customer on the other side of the table.  So, it is the ability of the sales rep uncovering problems and showing how to solve those problems that is the magic in selling not the product in and of itself.

This simple truth is not only supported by common sense but also by research.  It is useful to turn back to the research done by my colleague, Neil Rackham, when he was formulating the SPIN model.  The research clearly indicated that in successful calls the buyer was talking more than the seller and the seller was asking more questions.         

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©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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1 Response to Statements inform – questions persuade – A sales tip

  1. Emanuele Proietto says:

    Thanks for the article! The Science of persuasion is a very interesting subject and I have found very interesting the book “Say Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion by Noah Goldstein, Robert B. Cialdini, Steve Martin and the following article:

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