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Want to sell more? Build psychological debt. - by TimC

If you had one single technique for ensuring that people would buy from you again and again, or that your boss would promote you on your terms, not his or hers, or that your competitors would sit around their conference table at midnight, night after night, agonizing over how to successfully compete with you when you easily take business away from them while, at the same time, making it impossible for them to take business away from you – would you be interested? Read on. What I am about to share with you can guarantee your continued success. When you finish reading, you may say to yourself, it can’t be that easy! But, after using this technique for my entire career, I am here to tell you: It is.


The most valuable lesson I learned happened over forty years ago, in my early career. I was failing in the insurance business: I didn’t sell anything in six months and I’m surprised it took my manager that long to terminate me. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me make a very long story short to illustrate the essence of this tremendous career idea.


In almost every sales presentation that I gave to prospects back in those days, I kept hearing things like, “Tim, you are really good at this.” “You are going to be really successful in this business.” “You really know your stuff.” “You have a great future ahead of you in sales.” Kind words from my prospects, YES; sales, NO. So in total desperation, I met with a good friend who was also in the insurance business; he was one of the most successful and talented insurance people in the country at that time. Larry was making over a million dollars a year selling insurance.


I shared my frustrating plight with him. I told him, basically, that I was getting lots of compliments, but no sales. This was his advice:


“Tim, when you give a sales presentation to a prospect, are you nice to them?” Do you give them the most important commodity you have, your time? Do you educate them? Do you give them the benefit of your experience?”


My answers to all of his questions were, yes.


So Larry explained, “Here is what is happening. You are building a psychological debt with these people. Essentially they owe you something and they don’t want to owe you, especially if they have no intention of buying, so they want the debt paid before you leave. So they pay off this emotional or psychological debt with a compliment. Here’s the key: Once you accept their compliment, the debt is paid. Then there is no guilt in not buying from you.”


Well, no man can feed his wife and kids with compliments; they need regular food. So I said, “Larry, what do I do?”


He responded, “Refuse their compliments. You see, when you do not accept the compliments, the psychological debt still exists.”


“How do I do that?”


“Say to your prospect something to the effect, ‘If I were that good, we would be doing business together.’ Or, ‘If I am going to be that successful, I would be better able to communicate the benefits of my proposal to you. I’m sorry, but I don’t deserve that compliment.’ By refusing the compliment, you leave the debt still there.”


Larry continued, “Now, when you get a compliment and an order, you simply say, ‘Thank you very much.’”


This one piece of advice has done more for my success in sales and in business as a speaker and trainer than any other idea or education I have ever experienced. I have read every sales book I could get my hands on. I know, personally, most of the celebrity sales trainers. I have a sales audio library valued at more than twenty-five thousand dollars. And I can honestly tell you that this one technique, when mastered, is more valuable than any of the above for the galvanizing impact it can have on your life and career, regardless of whether you are in sales or not.


Consistently using this approach in your business will do two very important things for you. One, it will competitor-proof your business, making it all but impossible to lose business, no matter what your competitor’s tactics are. And two, it will help you easily take business away from your competitors.


Let me give you a few brief examples of how I still use this idea forty years after receiving Larry’s advice.


Example #1: I see a great article in a business magazine that effectively addresses a current and/or difficult issue a client or prospect is facing. I send them a copy of the article with a brief note, “Bob, I thought this might interest you.”


Keep in mind, you don’t build psychological dept when you sell something to a customer or when you solve one of their problems that relates to your product or service. The only time you build debt is when you send the clear message, “I am interested in your success, I care about your business, whether it has anything to do with what I sell or not.”


Back to my example. Do you think that when Bob gets this article, the debt has just notched up a bit?


Example #2: How about if, a few weeks later, I send him an audio CD by a speaker or trainer (could even be a competitor of mine) that gives him loads of great ideas on how to deal with his challenge? More debt? Yes.


Example #3: What if, a few weeks after that, I send him a copy of a best-selling business book by another author that gives him even more information? Even more debt? Yes. What if I send him a copy of my book, You Call That Selling! (91 Dumb Things Salespeople Do to Sabotage Their Success and 91 Smart Things to Do Instead?) See the point?


In order to make this idea work for you, you need to do two things. First, you need to know what their problems or interests are – and I’m not talking about sending them a dozen golf balls; any idiot can do that. And I’m not talking about their problems as they relate to your products and services. Second, you need to make it a consistent strategy and process, not something you do once in a while when you need to increase your business.


I will guarantee you that, sooner or later, this debt will be paid in full by him in some way. He hires me to speak. He buys a bunch of my books. He recommends me to a friend. Here’s the problem: Once he has hired me, the debt is paid, and I need to start building it all over again. The trick is to get it and keep it so high that it can never be paid off.


If you called a number of my clients and asked them why they hired me to speak to their groups, you would hear things like, “I can’t get the debt paid.” “He just keeps on building the debt.”


Eventually you can trade this debt in for almost whatever you want. Things like, no resistance to price increases. Late deliveries don’t become relationship busters. Quality problems or product shortcomings don’t eliminate you from consideration.


Are you getting lots of kind remarks about your ability, expertise, and knowledge, but no sales or customers? Start building psychological debt … and start today. Get creative, think outside of the box. Keep asking yourself, what are my customer’s and prospect’s problems, needs, concerns, and challenges that have nothing to do with my products or services?


I will guarantee you that fewer than one in ten thousand people understand and apply this idea. Who are they? They have attended one of my boot camps or been in one of my seminars.

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