Growing up as a fully functional mischievous child was not just a hobby for me.  It was a full time commitment.  I loved to play with adults and either make them laugh – or make them wonder what I was “up” to.  My sister would tell you that there were times that I would be the culprit – and yet somehow she got the blame.  Of course, I would not have any idea as to what she would be referring.  I was a complete angel. 🙂

I especially liked the little novelty gag gifts that would make people jump.  My favorite was the “innocent” looking can of peanuts – that when opened would release a spring loaded fake snake.  I know that the whole idea was immature and silly.  However, to a youngster it was hilarious – especially on those times when the adult seemed not to notice the fraudulent can.  As I look back, I am sure that most were just playing along for my entertainment.

Later during my teenage years, a phrase became popular in part because of that particular novelty.  That phrase would be eloquently delivered as someone reached a level of annoyance that bordered on starting an altercation with a friend or foe.  That phrase was, “Don’t make me open up a can of whup-a** on you!”

Now, as most boys did back in those days, I certainly was in my share of rumbles.  Nothing as serious as what seems to happen now – more like little wrestling contests, I suppose.  I won many of them.  However, on more than one occasion I was not the victor.  But even on the matches that I got myself “whupped” – I never saw anyone actually open a can of anything.

Rest assured, nobody wanted that can opened on them.

In the sales process, no one wants a can opened on them either.

I don’t believe in a canned sales process.  However, when you watch every great sales person you will find that their process, though not canned, follows a very definite repeatable pattern.  They basically say and do pretty much the same thing each time – and yet it doesn’t sound like a broken record. (For those millennials out there – it doesn’t sound like the mp3 file is corrupted on your iPod causing a short loop.)

So how do the great sales leaders keep from sounding “canned”?  They use structured improvisation.  And that structured format keeps the process moving toward a successful conclusion.

This week we will look at the various stages in the sale process, and how you can develop your improvisational skills.  Today let’s discuss sales objections.

Structure for handling objections:

  • Clarify
  • Isolate
  • Empathize
  • Connect
  • Present Solution
  • Confirm Agreement
  • Close

Structured Improvisation

  • Clarify: Let me make sure I understand what you are saying.  You are thinking that …. right?
  • Isolate:  If that issue could be resolved, do you see any other reason we couldn’t move forward?
  • Empathize: I see what you are saying and can understand the concern.
  • Connect: Some of my existing clients initially thought the same thing. Together, we found a solution for them.
  • Present Solution: We were able to …. which gave them the benefit of ….
  • Confirm Agreement: How do you see that type of solution working in your scenario?
  • Close:  Do you see any reason we can’t move forward with implementation?

Your assignment:  use structured improvisation – not some canned presentation…

If you don’t?  Well…

Don’t make me open up this can of… 🙂


What are your best questions for improvising during prospecting?