Jujitsu Selling

Judo and Jujitsu revolutionized self-defense by using the opponents’ strength and momentum as a tool to control them. We believe there is a strong parallel with selling. In sales, we can create resistance that causes our customers to put their guards up, or we can use their input and desires as a fulcrum to achieve a positive outcome. Let’s look at how this principle applies to your sales.

Think Like a Customer

It is always easier to look at sales in industries in which we are customers rather than salespeople and then relate what we see to our own industry. Let’s look at a recent buying experience Carl had in a furniture store:

When shopping for a couch, Carl was walking through the furniture section of a department store, and he sat in a love seat to see how it felt. A salesperson came by and asked, “Is this the love seat you have selected?”


Problem 1.
Closing too early without any discovery or presentation. It raised buyer resistance and probability of a negative response because any positive response would have been taken as an agreement to purchase.

Later, the salesperson asked, “Now, I know you probably have the money to pay cash, but why not use our money? It’s interest free.”

The salesperson then added, “Let me write it up for you; there’s no obligation.”


Problem 2
. Buying resistance is up, and it’s still too early to close. The salesperson has no idea what Carl’s interests are.

Keys to Jujitsu Selling

This salesperson took a customer who came in for a reason and raised his resistance until he left without a purchase. Had the salesperson used Jujitsu Selling, he would have asked discovery questions, identified Carl’s interest and lifestyle needs, and avoided any inappropriate pressure to make a buying decision prematurely.

The first technique in this method is to find out why the customer is shopping or looking to change. For example, when he saw Carl sitting in a love seat, he could have asked questions like:

  • Is that comfortable?
  • Are you looking for a love seat?
  • What are you relaxing on now at home?
  • What do you like about it?
  • What don’t you like about it?
  • What’s the most important thing to you when it comes to furniture?

Notice these questions use the customer’s desires for change to lower resistance. If we find out he is severely unhappy with his current furniture, it is an indication he may be motivated to make a change. Asking questions and listening to the answers lowers resistance and raises the customer’s trust in you. If you don’t know what he wants, you can’t help him. This is what gives you permission to close later. A lot of closing is based on timing. You can’t close before a relationship has begun. You can’t close until you know the customer and the customer knows you know what he wants. You have to use the client’s needs or wants for change as a fulcrum to lower resistance.

Here is another example from the same store: A couple goes to the appliance section and says, “I heard there is a new washing machine that cleans with steam. Do you have that model?”

The salesperson replies, “No, we don’t, but it sounds like a gimmick. Water is what you need, and we have that. Let me show you. Besides, whenever new ideas come out, there are bugs that cause trouble for many years. Come over here…”

Is this getting closer to a sale? We doubt it.

This salesperson did not use discovery or questions to find out more and to raise trust and desire for change. He could have said, “Steam washing—I read about that—interesting. What are the advantages you are looking for that steam will give you? What are you using now for laundry? What do you like about it? What concerns you about it? If you could get the advantages you want without steam, would you consider it?” Again, notice how asking questions builds desire and warms the couple to a salesperson who has an interest in their desires and listens.

Notice in these examples that the salespeople don’t talk about themselves. Further, what they use or tell about the technical information or about the company or products is minimal.

Jujitsu Selling Water Equipment

Now, let’s see how this could relate to our industry. Look at the examples given in Table 1 above.

As you can see from these examples, closing before you have the customer’s permission is not courageous; it is combative and a disservice.

It isn’t fancy words or sleight of hand that gets sales. It is asking questions and listening to the answers. It is using what you learn to mirror customers’ interests. It is showing them you have a solution that fills their needs at a reasonable price.

Consider how you sell now and how much better you and your customers will feel when you work with them to reach the right decision. Make it easy and lead them to the decision they want instead of pushing or pulling. Try listening and understanding what they want rather than those out-of-date, tricky techniques. We believe you’ll sell more and feel a lot better about yourself and your career.

Carl Davidson and Ric Harry are directors of Sales and Management Solutions, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in sales & management video training, recruiting and live seminars exclusively for the water equipment industry. A free demonstration video and list of products and topics is available at 800.941.0068. Send comments on this article to them at reactions@carldavidson.com; www.carldavidson.com.

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