Just Say When, Not If. Making It Happen When Selling.

Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to meet with a company regarding providing search engine optimization services to them. This is a company that is on the verge of being an Inc. 500 company and I was meeting with the CEO, VP of Marketing, and VP of Development. About 45 min. into the meeting the CEO said, “So how do we get this going?” and my reply to him was something along the lines of, “If we begin working together we will start with, etc. etc.” and went on to explain our process to him. Roughly 10 min. later the CEO stood up and basically said,

I have to get running, so you guys take care of the details and lets move forward, but I have one piece of advice for you, say “when” we begin working with you instead of “if” we begin working with you. We then shook hands and he left the board room.

I’m not one to be offended by someone teaching me something, or telling me how I can do something better. I really do feel that I can learn something from everyone and this experience has left me thinking for the past 48 hours about the power of motivational language and the kinds of words I should be using to encourage action when in meetings. I also have to laugh because yesterday on The Jim Rome Show, he spent about 30 min. praising sales guys for the work they do and how he was in sales once but couldn’t hack it. He talked about weak sales cliches taught as tools such as calling a prospect and saying something like, “I’ll be in your area on the 12th and the 15th, what works better for you?”, like it’s a trap for them now and they can’t say no. Now I wouldn’t say I’m a salesman, but hey…everyone is selling something right?

Anyway, I don’t think the advise I was given by this CEO was weak or anything in the like, but I had to laugh hearing Rome talk about this topic when I have recently been thinking so much about it. I have really been thinking of how I can be more suggestive, or motivational, or optimistic…whatever you want to call it with my language since then and really have been trying to say when instead of if the last few days with any prospects I have met with or talked to.

I have also been reading about the subject and I am aware that their are several great books that deal with the power or suggestion, the powers of positive attitude, the powers of persuasion, etc. and here are a few quotes I have found that I like related to this subject.

“Positive thinking is a mental attitude that admits into the mind thoughts, words and images that are conductive to growth, expansion and success. It is a mental attitude that expects good and favorable results. A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome of every situation and action. Whatever the mind expects, it finds.” Remez Sasson

“Selling is an inner game, and the difference between top performers and average ones is not as great as you might think. Top performers just do certain things a little bit better each day.” Brian Tracy

If any of you have insight in this area, please feel free to comment and share with me and the rest of our readers. Also, please suggest books, etc. that deal with the subject that you can recommend.

I think being a positive thinker is something we can all do better with, I certainly know I can, and will end with us all (in the words of Stuart Smalley) saying, “I’m gonna help people because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me.”

7 thoughts on “Just Say When, Not If. Making It Happen When Selling.

  1. Marketing projects and sales says:

    Andrew. Good stuff. I think a lot about this topic. As an owner of a small agency, I often find myself in a sales role though I’ve never considered myself very good at it. I totally agree with the point about saying ‘when’ instead of if. Of course, there will always be a fine line between coming off as arrogant or apathetic and the over-eager sales guy. In the end, I think it boils down to trust – especially in the market we’re in.

    There are so many things that can be done or said that a potential client will hone in on. One thing I’ve learned about the sales process is that it is very easy for them to view the seller as a tool – or someone who can’t be trusted. This can be the result of something small – like a nervous tick :), inflection of voice, over-honesty, or they simply don’t like you because you are selling them something. The sales game is certainly not for the faint of heart.

    Lastly, it is VERY easy to become jaded in this industry. And that is where the power of positivity comes in. Not to mention, I think people see into people more than they consciously recognize.

    The longer I’m here on earth, the more I believe in these universal laws. But I think that for it to really work, positivity is something that you have to ‘be’ versus ‘use’. By being it, this is when it really starts to work – in life & sales. Now, back to my Karmic meditation. 🙂

  2. Andrew Melchior says:

    @Marketing projects and sales
    Great comments and thanks for replying. You make some great points and suggestions and I can tell you that I have sat across the table enough times to know what you mean by a sales guy coming off as arrogant. Once I get that feeling in my gut all I can say to him is no thanks.

    Any tips for salesman on how they can overcome those nervous ticks, inflections in the voice, etc.?

  3. Dan Patterson says:

    What I think is impressive is that he taught the lesson AND still did the deal with you. I agree that I can probably learn something from everyone and I am also guilty of the ‘if’, ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’ syndrome from time to time.

  4. Mat Siltala says:


    This is an excellent post that has one of the most profound teachings I have ever heard, or read. There is power in positive thinking, and you need to know, and have enough confidence that you will seal whatever deal you are working on. I don’t want to get all Law of Attraction on ya, but that my friend, is amazing advice.

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