I’m traveling for business this week (I’m in Tewksbury, MA as I type) and heard a sales discussion in the lobby this morning.  One salesperson was working hard to convince 2 others about, well, I’m not sure the exact pitch, but it did involve purchasing produce.  Hear is what caught my ear during the salesperson’s pitch:

Nobody knows more about tangerines than Jim…

Absolutes = unbelievable.  Absolutes like  always, never, nobody, etc. trigger an effect in prospects to disprove or doubt it especially if they are not familiar with the absolute being stated.  Jim may know more than anyone else, but I am skeptical.  Instantly I start wondering about who would know more than Jim.  A scientist?  A botanist? A geneticist?  Instead of believing in Jim’s knowledge I start trying to disprove it in my head.

Perhaps this is a subtle point, but it is one that I notice when trying to build credibility with a prospect.  I would rather hear something to the effect of “Jim has forgotten more about tangerines than most people have learned.”  Ok, now stop, I know the “tangerine” part makes it somewhat amusing, but the structure is my point.  It is a strong statement that doesn’t challenge the listener.  It is humorous which makes it disarming and it is not absolute since it uses “most.”

Now off I go to refill my coffee and eavesdrop on more sales pitches.

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