How NOT to respond to a client or prospect

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Our natural tendency when confronted is to give a knee-jerk response.  Gerald Clerx, author and sales coach, condenses our instinctive replies into 4 responses we should not use.  He calls these unsuitable responses the JAWS of Defense.  I must confess that I am guilty of using all four responses.

  • J = Justify: Giving an excuse or trying to justify actions or circumstances (i.e., That is not what I meant…).
  • A = Accuse: Casting the blame on someone else (i.e, You should have been clearer…..).
  • W = Withdraw:  Withdrawing or disengaging from the situation or relationship (i.e., If you aren’t willing to xxx, then I’ll call someone else…).
  • S = Sarcasm: Giving a sarcastic response or exaggerated claim (i.e., With that group, you’re luck if you get any response at all...).

Instead of responding instinctively, we should respond strategically using Gerald's "ACRE" formula.

  • A = Align:  Identifying with the person and making it clear that you understand where they are coming from even though you may not agree with them (i.e., I understand where you are coming from.  I’d be upset too if …..).
  • C = Clarify:  Asking a clarifying question(s) to make sure you understand the underlying reason behind their initial question.  The root of the original question is often a symptom of the person’s real question or concern (i.e., What kind of solution makes sense to you?).
  • R = Respond:  Answering with a thoughtful response once you clearly understand their underlying question or concern (i.e., It sounds like xxxx is important to you.  I would be willing to xxxxxx).
  • E = Encourage: Asking a meaningful question that encourages a positive response (i.e., Does that solution satisfy your concerns?)

The cool thing about Gerald's system is that you can apply it to any area of your life.  It's a relational response using empathy rather than confrontation.   Practice this skill and watch your win-rate increase.

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Barkley Peschel

Barkley Peschel
Senior Vice President | Fort Bend
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