Knowledge Exchange

Chris Bond: The Monthly Book Report brought to you by Murphy Business – Secrets of Question-Based Selling


It goes without saying that we’re all in sales in some form or another, so it’s likely anyone can get value out of Tom Freese’s Secrets of Question Based Selling, which he updated recently after an original press run in 2000. Freese is a career sales guy, an in-the-trenches type who has been known to wow the big kahunas at tech firms by doubling his quota, and then doing it again. He loads the book with 165 so-called secrets, some obvious, other not so much. The quickest way to absorb all this is to simply thumb through the book, stopping only on the highlighted items. Want me to make it easier still? Fine. Let’s distill this down to just one watch-out – one simple concept that could change the way you sell today.

My big takeaway from Freese’s secrets? Something called mismatching, of which I’ve been guilty far too many times. A mismatch occurs when we contradict another person, or barge into their comment with a self-important interjection. This is a plain-and-simple form of a defense mechanism that harms rapport and prevents one from ringing the register. As the author indicates under Secret #37, “mismatching causes discord, where people who mismatch are either trying to control the conversation or trying to satisfy their own need to add value.” Yahtzee! There is a wrestling match for relevance, a useless struggle to gain attention, no different than a four-year-old jumping up and down, demanding the parent “film me! film me! film me!” Mismatching gets us nowhere and yet you may agree, it’s brutally hard to resist. A wise person once said that sales is no place to get one’s needs met, and yet upon reflection you may realize you’ve mismatched someone in the past week, day, or even hour. (Careful here: If you’re mumbling that you’ve done no such thing – even if you’re correct – you just mismatched me, so… guilty as charged!)

Freese outlines the four types of mismatches: Contradiction, Unnecessary Clarification, One-Upsmanship, and The Dreaded “I Know.” The cure for all this is to simply go with the flow, allowing the other person to be the star as we listen with engagement. Yet as Steve Martin is wont to say, “But noooo!” We’re prone to debate, to correct, to show off. And here’s where selling professionals get to make a simple decision: what’s more important to me – making the sale or being the smartest person in the room? When business is booming and we’re not getting rock star treatment at home, perhaps being wicked smart takes priority. But when it’s important to win new projects and establish the type of revenue growth that leads to staff bonuses and new job creation, the thought here is to let the other person shine and make the sale. They get to be smart, and you get the deal. Then go home and hug your cat if that makes you feel better. 

Good reading!

Chris Bond

Originally posted by Chris Bond on April 26, 2015 at 12:55pm

Updated: [post_updated_day]


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