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Don’t Disagree – Acknowledge and Pivot

sales skills, shift, challenger sales, sales tactics, acknowledge and pivotIt’s tough to not want to be right all the time. In fact it may even be genetically impossible for the male species. At least that is what I have come to believe. That little bit of wisdom, as they say, and a $10 bill will buy you a small plain coffee at your favorite coffee bar.

It is particularly difficult to hold back from proving you are right when your client is obviously wrong. It is just everything we can do to stop ourselves from jumping up and down and yelling “WRONG” at the top of our voice.

Many wiser than me have said that at times like these you have a choice: be right OR be effective. This can be true in many situations:

…be right or be HAPPY, when listening to an errant loved one.

…be right or be EMPLOYED, when listening to the boss make a big mistake.

…be right or stay out of JAIL, when listening to the kind policeman that just pulled you over for speeding a bit.

But hey, sales people are meant to be the bastions of information, the oracles of all data, and the ultimate purveyor of every product feature and benefit. We work hard to be very RIGHT. So how do we possibly deal with people that are WRONG?!

It’s simple – don’t disagree.

While this might preclude you from running for political office it is actually the very best strategy to get people to actually hear what you have to say, even when it might require a different perspective from their own.

So what do you do when you are in the midst of a client conversation and that terrible untruth is spoken? Perhaps they assert something like, “Your products cost 20% more than your competitor XYZ Co.”

Don’t blush, don’t blink, don’t worry. Simply acknowledge what you have heard. You can say, “I certainly understand how you might think that.”

And then pause. Pause again. Silence is golden here. Then continue with the pivot, which can be something like this: “If I can show you that our solutions will grow your revenue by 10% more, reduce your total cost by 5% more, and reduce your time to market risk by 15% versus XYZ Co, would you be interested?” That’s a pivot.

There is another derivative of that called the And Also Pivot. It is based on a heartfelt acknowledgment to the person that just made the statement that you wish to refute, but don’t want to put on the opposite side of the opinion fence. You have to have the belief that you do not know all that there is to know in the world and put that squarely on the table. This must come from the heart. In this case when you hear the statement of fact that you feel needs supplementing, such as, “Your competitor XYZ Co. has a broader product line offering than you do.” Pause, pause again. Silence is still golden here. You then acknowledge what has been said. “You know they do have a very broad product line – and if I can also show you how our specialization on your specific industry will grow your revenue by 5.1% in the first year, would that be of value to you?” That’s the And Also Pivot.

In both cases these are NOT tactics used to manipulate a conversation. These are just simple ways to keep the conversation open and alive, to allow you to better understand your client’s true needs and keep out of the competitive comparison traps. The sincere desire to help a client make a difference that matters to them is the motivational methodology that is behind this desire to understand and help.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Disagree – Acknowledge and Pivot

  1. Dave,
    Thanks, your voice is always welcome here. In the world of new and improved sales “processes” its still the good ole’ human basics that matter the most… and are the hardest to master as you have to make a shift in thinking before you start to shift the doing.
    Mitch

  2. Mitch, I was chuckling reading this reflecting back to my “younger sales self” (yeah I know that was when cave drawings were modern art). It took me a long time and lots of failure to learn that “being right doesn’t win.” Some of the most powerful things people and sales people can do include: “Yes, and…..” Obviously eliminating the “but” or “What if….” or “Have you ever considered…” Thanks for a great reminder

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