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Robert Bell

Channel Your Inner 15-Year-Old Boy and Shrug — Removing Emotion from the Sales Process

Many of you are too emotionally wrapped up in closing deals.




Channel Your Inner 15-Year-Old Boy and Shrug — Removing Emotion from the Sales Process

WHAT IF I TOLD YOU that you shouldn’t care about making a sale? Strange coming from a sales trainer, right? Still, I don’t want you to care about it. I want you to give it the most noncommittal gesture of all-time: the 15-year-old boy shrug.

Of course, I’ll explain.

Several years ago my 15-year-old nephew came to San Francisco to visit me for a weekend. That Sunday morning, I asked, “Hey Sam, do you want to go out for breakfast?” He gave a short shrug. Hmm, ok. But, I was hungry so we went out. At the restaurant, I asked, “What do you want to have… Eggs? Pancakes? Waffles?” Across from me, he shrugged again. “French toast? A partridge in a pear tree?”

Once again, his shoulders rose, his neck condensed, his eyes glazed over… and he held it for a few seconds. I laughed so loud, the people in the next booth turned our way.

It’s the 15-year-old boy shrug! Hey, I was 15 once. I remember my shrug. The most unemotional, noncommittal gesture in the universe. The shrug suggests: “I’m more emotionally attached to lint than I am to your question. I’m not being rude. It just doesn’t matter to me. For chrissake, don’t you understand I’m thinking about whether or not the girl in my 5th period English class likes me? Man, that’s life and death!”

Ok, let’s apply this “logic” to you.


First off, and I want to be crystal clear on this, I am not suggesting that you actually shrug at your customers. But what I am suggesting is to adopt this “shrug” mentally and I will show you how to articulate it.

Many of you are too emotionally wrapped up in making the sale. Much too often, I see ECPs, and professional salespeople for that matter, get emotionally attached to the outcome of the sales process. As if your entire self-worth depends on if the sale is made or not. And, it’s like that because you did everything you could think of to persuade them. When they say “no,” you’re crushed.

If you’ve been a devotee of this column (thank you!) over the past several years, you know my definition of selling has nothing to do with persuasion. It’s about helping someone acquire what they need.

So, if you’re asking questions that uncover a customer’s pains, you then offer a choice of solutions:

“Solution A does this, this, this, that and this. The price will be $800.
Solution B does this, this and that. The price for this option is $500
Solution C just does that. The price here is $200.”

(Ready to execute the shrug?)


“What works best for you?”

You’ve done an excellent job. You’ve uncovered the customer’s visual challenges and offered a choice of solutions. Whatever decision they make now is up to them. If you understand this, you won’t be emotionally involved in their decision.

You will, however, have that shrugging kid in your head, whispering, “Hey, whatever you choose is fine by me.”



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