“I don’t have the time to do this business. I don’t have enough hours in the day to do the things I need to do right now.”

“Sure you do. Have you considered how many hours you watch television? Besides, if you don’t have the time now, what makes you think you’ll have any more time to enjoy your life five years from now?!”

“I can’t sell.”

“Of course you can—you sell every day. Aren’t you selling when you convince your wife to go to the restaurant you want to go to? Or when you get your kid to study harder? Or hit your boss up for a raise? Of course you can sell, you’re always selling!”

“So is this like a pyramid?”

“No, pyramids are illegal. Besides, isn’t your current job like a pyramid? Except in that pyramid, only the people at the top make all the money and you can never surpass that person’s income. In our business you’re at the top of your own organization and you can actually make more money than the people who got in before you!”

How many times have you faced those objections, answered them as above, convinced your prospects that you were right and they were wrong…and they still never joined the business?!

Why not? Because you can’t persuade a person who doesn’t want to be persuaded. And that’s just about everyone.

People are much more likely to agree with a statement they make than with a statement you make. Leaders in this business have a knack for letting people come to their own conclusions. As Dale Carnegie said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”


How to Get Rid of a Headache

Tammi, a 19-year-old waitress at a restaurant I frequent, was complaining of a headache. I shared with her a remedy I once learned that sounds odd but works amazingly well: cutting a cold lime in half and rubbing the juicy part all over your forehead. I don’t know why it works, but it does.

Tammi is the type who generally doesn’t believe anything, so when I made the suggestion, she laughed and waved the idea away with her hand.

Now, Tammi’s a really good kid and I hated to see her suffer needlessly. My impulse was to say, in an aggravated voice, “Tammi, what have you got to lose—just try it!” But if I had done that, do you think it would have worked? Would she have said, “Oh, Bob, what a great idea! Just try it—now why didn’t I think of that?”

Of course not. She would have remained resistant to the idea. So, I didn’t say anything…and waited for another opportunity.

About five minutes later, as she was refilling my water glass, she said, “It’s funny, I once heard of this great cure for the hiccups that really works. All you do is…” and she described it to me. (Come to think of it, I don’t remember what the cure was. I do remember that it sounded even weirder than rubbing the juicy part of a lime over your forehead.)

My opportunity! What should I say? Here are a few possibilities:

1) “Gee, Tammi, why would you believe something ridiculous like that, when you wouldn’t listen to what I said about the lime?” That’s a pretty natural response, but it’s attacking the other person’s ego and certainly won’t advance your cause.

2) “I’ll tell you what—you try the goofy thing with the lime right now, and next time I have the hiccups, I’ll try your goofy idea.” Though a little better than the first, this response is still patronizing and ego-based. It might elicit a polite laugh—but probably not the desired result.

So I picked door number three:

3) After listening attentively to her suggestion I said, “Wow, what a neat idea! I’ll definitely try that next time I get the hiccups. Thank you!”

And her response?

“Cool. Hey…you know what, lemme go find a lime and see if that idea works….”

—which she did. (And it did.)

Why did this response work when the first two probably would not have? It’s a matter of showing the other person respect. Treating her as a responsible, self-directing individual with an ability to make the best decision for herself.

In other words, instead of trying to actively persuade her to my way of thinking, I held back and allowed her to come to her own conclusion. Her suggestion to me merely allowed me to demonstrate to her that that was what I was doing.


Answering Their Own Objections

Sometimes the most powerful way to persuade another is to stay detached and allow ourselves to not have to have the answer. In time (hopefully sooner but sometimes later!) that person, seeing and sensing the respect we’ve given them, will be more open to our suggestion.

Does that mean you should ignore people’s objections, not respond to them, and just leave it to them to spontaneously come up with their own answers? No. It means that you perhaps open up the question to discussion by first agreeing with them and understanding their point, then asking questions that will elicit their answering their own objection.

Let’s take one of the objections we saw earlier:

“Isn’t this like a pyramid?”

“I don’t know. I guess it depends on how we’d define a pyramid. What does a pyramid seem like it would be to you?”

“Well, the person at the top makes the money and the rest do all the work.”

“That’s a great point. Does that remind you of any place you’re familiar with?”

“Yeah…it sort of reminds me of exactly where I work!”

And your prospect has just begun to answer his own objection.

The most effective way to persuade prospects: let them persuade themselves.

BOB BURG is author of Endless
Referrals and The Success Formula.