Chapter 18

How to Kill a Sales Conversation

My roommate got a pet elephant. Then it got lost. It’s in the apartment somewhere.

—Steven Wright

Have you ever watched someone head down a path in a conversation where you knew—you just knew—that the person was about to self-destruct and there was nothing you could do to help?

Perhaps it was going well for a while and then took a turn for the worse, and perhaps he lost the other person at hello. Either way, the conversation mistakes he made were about as obvious to you as an elephant hiding in the bathroom behind the toothbrush, but, for whatever reason, the perpetrator of conversation destruction couldn’t see the elephant.

When sales conversations die, they rarely go out with an explosion. More often they expire with a whimper. It doesn’t matter if the conversation killer was the size of an elephant or a gnat, there was a sale that could have been made, an objection that could have been overcome, or a price point that could have been achieved but wasn’t, the failure is usually somewhere in the conversation.

We’ve categorized the conversation killers into four categories:

1. Killers that make you dead on arrival.

2. Killers hiding in the open.

3. Killers waiting to ambush you.

4. Killers you never see that kill in the dark.

We cover each in turn, but before we do, it’s important to note that if you’ve been following the advice throughout Rainmaking Conversations, for the most part you already know how to avoid these pitfalls. However, ...

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