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Nobody likes feeling pressured. When we’re told what to do, what to think, what’s right for us, we end up pushing back. This is especially true when it comes to spending money – if we’re feeling pressured into making a purchase, our natural reaction is to pull away.

According to bestselling author, investor, and banking advisor Oren Klaff, the solution to this sales problem is to stop trying to persuade people into buying what you sell. Instead, guide the buyer towards discovering your idea themselves. After all, who doesn’t trust their own ideas?

Klaff lays out how to do just that in his latest book, Flip the Script. His formula consists of five steps that all work in tandem towards the goal of getting people to think that your idea is really their idea.

These tips don’t just help salespeople. To quote another bestselling author and business influencer, Daniel Pink: “When people have their own reasons for doing something, they believe those reasons more deeply and adhere to the behavior more strongly.” In other words, if someone believes that your idea is really their idea, they’re much more trusting and enthusiasticand that’s an invaluable communication tool whether you’re selling widgets or getting your kids to tidy up their rooms.

Let’s take a look at Klaff’s formula below:

1. Achieve status alignment. The first step towards turning the power over to the buyer is getting them to take you seriously. You achieve this by giving them a “status tip-off.” The goal is to make them feel like you’re an insider. They can relate to your idea because you’re like them in terms of status, authority and power. You’re not a pushy salesman – you’re an established player in the game. According to Klaff, a good status tip-off includes industry-specific lingo, describes an action you recently took in the industry, and mentions something that your buyer actually cares about. Once you’ve built their confidence that you do, in fact, operate at their level – you have achieved status alignment.

2. Instill certainty in the other party. Next, you need to establish your credentials. To do this, you use something called a “Flash Roll.” A Flash Roll is a display of technical mastery over a complex subject. Think of your favorite spy flick, where the dashing secret agent needs their techie to hack into a computer. The techie narrates the process, throwing out dozens of complicated terms, moves and counter-moves in rapid succession. By the end of the scene, the computer has been hacked and you’re left without a doubt that the techie is a true expert. That is the goal of a Flash Roll – display pure, technical mastery to convince the buyer you know your craft down to the last detail and are thus the very best option for the challenge at hand. According to Klaff, a good Flash Role is delivered matter-of-factly at nearly twice your normal speaking speed – so you best get to memorizing!

3. Explain your big idea. When you’re presenting to a buyer, there are three questions they need answered as quickly as possible. The three W’s:

  • Why should I care?

  • What’s in it for me?

  • Why should I trust you?

The best way to answer these questions is to use pre-wired ideas the client already accepts as fact.

Why should I care? Because winter is coming. What’s in it for me? Double what you have now. Why should I trust you? Because I have skin in the game. These three concepts – winter is coming, twice as much, skin in the game – are easily understandable and designed to appeal to the most basic idea receptors of the listeners. Buyers will always respond the same way, regardless of background, because these ideas apply to everyone.

4. Make the buyer feel safe. The easiest way to make your buyer feel safe is finding their “novelty sweet-spot.” You’re not selling anything dramatically different – you’re selling vanilla with a twist. According to Klaff, you achieve this with a process called “Novelty Chunking.” Novelty Chunking is to take everything new, different, and potentially scary about your offering and group it all into a single category. You want your buyer to believe your deal is just like every other deal – except for one key difference. This way, you have control over how scary your idea looks. New and exciting garners excitement, but also anxiety. Same-old-boring doesn’t provide any incentive to buy. Novelty Chunking – plain vanilla but with one twist – is a comfortable, but still exciting middle ground.

5. Leverage their natural pessimism. In all deals with significant stakes, every buyer will go through a period of skepticism and unease, no matter how excited they are. Since it’s inevitable, instead of fighting against it, you should aim to guide them through it. You want to give the buyer autonomy to ask their questions, but keep them focused on what matters, avoid distractions, and set up “invisible fences.” Klaff uses a seven-step formula:

  • Introduce the formula

  • Outline the obvious ways to fail

  • Highlight counterintuitive traps

  • List obvious actions they should take to get started

  • Offer insider tips and hacks

  • Hand over autonomy for the decision

  • Redirect to keep the buyer focused

If the buyer understands the formula and respects your status as an expert, you can step back and encourage their natural pessimism. Entertain their ideas, acknowledge the downsides, and you will inevitably gain their trust.

If you can follow these steps, your buyer won’t feel pressured. Instead, they’ll be asking you how and when you can get started.

“Instead of pushing your idea on the buyer, it’s a better move to guide them to discover it on their own, so they believe it, trust it, and get excited about it,” writes Klaff. “Then they’ll want to buy it and will feel good about the chance to work with you. But you cannot accomplish this with standard sales methods. Instead, you need to flip the script.”

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