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Photography Sales: The Socratic Method {also useful in arguing}

I’m about to tell you a secret…one that I learned from Socrates. Ok, admittedly not directly from Socrates, but passed to me from him, via Dale Carnegie. The secret is this: if you’re able to get people to say “Yes” before they say “No”, there is a much higher chance they will come over to your side in the end. This technique, called “the Socratic Method” is really simple: Ask questions with which your opponent would have to agree, and keep winning one admission after another until eventually your opponent comes to a positive conclusion. Easy! And the beauty of this principle is that it works for socializing, networking, public speaking, arguing (er…disputing), and especially selling.

According to Professor Overstreet, “A ‘No’ response is a most difficult handicap to overcome. When you have said ‘No,’ all your pride and personality demands that you remain consistent with yourself. You may later feel that the ‘No’ was ill-advised; nevertheless, there is your precious pride to consider! Once having said a thing, you feel you must stick to it. Hence it is of the very greatest importance that a person be started in the affirmative direction.”

Imagine you want to sell something to client but you’re not sure they understand the value of what you’re selling. Maybe they don’t even know what it is that they want so it’s your job to tell them what it is that they want by asking them questions that you know will get a “Yes” answer.

You: “Are you hoping to preserve this moment in time for your family?”

“Would you like to have something you can pass on to future generations?”

Them: “Yes, Yes”.

You: “Then I have the perfect product for you, check out this beautiful album.” And so you can continue in this manner until they are firmly on your side in every way…

It’s so much easier to sell something to someone who is open and already nodding and saying “Yes,” even if what you’re selling is an idea.

Let’s take a little look at the psychology behind this principle:

“When a person says ‘No’ and really means it, he or she is doing far more than  saying a word of two letters. The entire organism – glandular, nervous, muscular – gathers itself together into a condition of rejection. There is, usually a minute but sometimes observable degree, a physical withdrawal or readiness for withdrawal. The whole neuromuscular system, in short, sets itself on guard against acceptance. When, to the contrary, a person says ‘Yes,’ none of the withdrawal activities take place. The organism is in a forward-moving, accepting, open attitude. Hence the more ‘Yeses’ we can, at the very outset, induce, the more likely we are to succeed in capturing the attention for our ultimate proposal.”

Another important thing to consider when putting this into practice is your own body language. If your words say “Yes” but your body says “No”, you are sending mixed messages! Say “Yes” with your body in these ways:

–       To create an instant connection, shake the persons hand before you have any verbal interaction.

–       Your face should be relaxed and composed, and you should have a natural smile.

–       Make eye contact when you speak, it shows confidence in the words you are saying and it lets the person you are talking to know you are invested and interested in communicating with them.

–       Sit or stand upright and let your posture show you are open. Let your hands hang naturally at your sides, or place them in your lap if you are sitting. Crossed arms and / or legs is a big no-no! And definitely no fidgeting!

Remember, if you’re open and positive, you’re more likely to create an open and positive experience for interaction, and you are ultimately more likely to get the result you want. The Chinese have a proverb pregnant with the age-old wisdom of the Orient: ‘He who treads softly goes far.’ Remember this and the Socratic Method next time you set out to convince someone of something and you’ll go far.

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