Communication Technique: Stay in the Green if You Know What I Mean!

By: Matthew Linklater | Posted: 09th February 2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Matthew Linklater

Have you ever engaged in sales communication, where the conversation simply did not go your way? You gave all the details that your prospective buyer would have needed. You offered specific examples of your product's advantages over the competitor. You outlined examples of success stories from clients who used your company's service. You offered referral contact information, and even contacted your referrals so they would expect the call. You broke down play by play, how your product or service operates, so your prospective client would understand the specific logistics of the company's service steps and the product's functionalities. You did all that! And still no sale. What could you possibly be doing wrong?

There is a communication technique that solves this problem. The technique is called "the ladder of abstraction and specificity". In my professional sales training process, our clients learn how to stay within the right range between abstraction and specificity with their communication. For example, if someone is selling a medical product, there is an important zone within which the salesperson should stay with their communication in order to maintain the attention and interest of the buyer. Within this zone, the seller is offering enough information so as not to be too general, but he or she does not overwhelm the buyer with too much information. For example, your buyer will probably want to hear important facts about your cutting edge spinal implant, but they certainly do not have time to listen to you tell them everything you know about the product. By strictly keeping a broader perspective with your communication for a prolonged period of time, others will remain interested and buy into your product or service more easily.

This is true for any form of communication - not just sales. Think about all the concentrated time you may have spent with your family members and friends during the holidays. Did you ever feel overwhelmed by information? Maybe your Aunt Judy went on and on about the dental visit that her friend's child endured the month prior. Or, did your Uncle Tom ramble on about the specific weather patterns and bird lifecycles in Kansas? It might be interesting to talk about bizarre (and somewhat funny) news happenings, but not many people's interest will be held if the conversation goes further, about specific bird afflictions and illnesses, found in the European coasts, etc. You're out of the green zone.

In any opportunity for communication, it's critical to consider the GREEN ZONE in your "Ladder of Abstraction and Specificity". The Green Zone is the sweet spot to not getting too specific in your sales presentations. Most sales reps revert to product dumping or go right to pitching their product. During your sales training, it's important to have regular gut checks with yourself and with your sales team: Am I getting too specific? Are my stories and examples still in touch with the big picture? Does my audience still appear to be actively engaged in what I'm saying? Especially over the phone, this communication technique is very important for sales success. In fact, we have exclusively designed product scripts for communicating within the GREEN ZONE, as well as a workbook for company communication by phone. It's so easy, you wouldn't believe it! But it works.


Author, Speaker and Success Coach, Matthew Linklater, offers powerful business consulting and high-impact personal coaching. He has trained business leaders to increase in the critical areas of sales coaching, building instant rapport with others, 3D Communication for negotiation and conflict resolution, motivation of team members, goal achievement, product scripting and leadership.
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Tags: cutting edge, period of time, competitor, salesperson, prospective client, referrals, referral, success stories, specificity, logistics, family members, prolonged period, prospective buyer, important facts