The Sales One-Liner

Over the past several months as I’ve been working with more and more start-ups, I’ve had to critique a lot of sales people on their style and offer suggestions about how to do it better.  And, in giving the pitches myself, allow those salespeople to critique my own sales style and determine whether they buy into my style or not.  All of this done, of course, to figure out ways to close more deals and crush quota.

One of the tactics that I nearly always use, which has been pointed out by nearly every salesperson I have worked with over the past several months, is the “one-liner.”    At some point in the discussion about the product or sale, I will make one small slightly humorous line to lighten the mood – or otherwise get the prospect smiling.  I honestly didn’t give this tactic much thought before it was pointed out so many times, but after analyzing it, I understand why I do it.

The sales process, for both sides, is usually a rather stressful exchange with people continually trying to figure out the other person’s thoughts and determine how to get what they want (and make sure they don’t get ripped off).  So, by lightening the mood, or trying to ease tensions, you can help the process along.  After all, if your reading this blog, you are the type of salesperson that isn’t about figuring out how to manipulate your prospect – you are about tying to find the right solution at the right price for them anyway.  So, making sure that tensions stay low and assure them that you are trying to find the best win-win solution is the one of the best ways to make the sale.

One liners from the last month:

  • In attempting to finally close the deal with a prospect and feeling that there was still doubt on her side, I said, “Mary, our product will make you so much money, you will buy gifts for my children.”  She responded with a big laugh and a “Oh my God you are a salesman – but I like your confidence.”   Deal Closed
  • After about 10 minutes of the prospect essentially giving quite explicit reasons why he thought that our product wouldn’t work for him, I allowed about 30 seconds of silence and then said, “I’m not 100% sure, but something tells me your aren’t a believer.”   After a big chuckle, he said, “Yeah, I’m certainly not sold and I was being pretty clear about that – but tell you what, if you can get me information on 1, 2, and 3, I’ll take a closer look.”
  • One of my sales people called a prospect and he said, “Oh God I thought you were one of my ex-wives calling looking for my money.”  She quickly responded, “Oh I’m calling for your money, I’m just not an ex-wife.”

What most salespeople should take away from this is that lightening the mood and easing tensions in the sales process is critical.  In terms of delivering witty one-liners, you should really think about whether this exact tactic will work for you as a salesperson.  Not everyone’s personality will conform to this type of strategy.  If you aren’t someone that speaks like this in normal conversations, then it is perhaps not something that you should try in your sales career.  I don’t consider myself a comic genius, but certainly my personality has always been one that incorporates humor into everyday situatons.

In terms of how a salesperson should deploy mood lightening in their own sales career , its very individual.  If you go with exactly this tactic, then you should make sure that you can think up, and deliver properly lines that will actually move the process along and not interrupt the process.   If the above examples were not delivered in a witty way, it could certainly disrupt and even kill a sale.

If you like to use one-liners like me, leave some of your best in the comments.

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