The TACTIC: Act, don’t react.

Tactics Sales


“You can’t expect me to pay,” said Harvey, an on-again, off-again customer, “full-counter price. I’ve brought a lot of business in here for you guys over the years. That should add up. By the way, I only deal with Cathy. Where is she?”

Lisa had seen many Harvey’s in her time. The price is always too much and if Cathy, or Bill, or Bob or whoever were here, they would confirm that the price was too much.

“Mr. Williams,” responded Lisa.

“Please, I’m Harvey, not some guy who’s never done business with your fine company year after year after year. Loyalty should get a discount.”

“Harvey,” she began once more, “let’s say that there is absolutely nothing anyone on this planet can do about the price. Does this mean we’ve forever lost you as a customer?”

“What? You can’t make an adjustment for all the business I bring to you?” Harvey stared at Lisa. She stared right back determined to not answer.

“Ok,” said Harvey, “if you can’t do anything with the price, how about delivery? You sure Cathy isn’t on break or something?”

“How about delivery… means what?”

“You have cotton in the ears?” he asked with a mocking tone. “If I’m going to be held up and forced at gun point to pay full-counter, I want better delivery.”

“Which means?” asked Lisa in a very even tone.

“Instead of ten days, I need it in seven.”

Another bout of silence as both stared at each other.

“Ok,” responded Lisa, “seven days. What does that get us?”

“You sure Cathy isn’t around?” he asked, looking over her shoulder towards the back.

“Seven days,” responded Lisa.

“I hear you, I hear you. Don’t rush me. I need a moment to look over my sheets.”

Lisa pointedly stared at the clock on the wall and watched the second hand make one complete sweep of the dial. “Harvey, your moment is up.”

“Ok, ok. I’ll place an order.”


Lisa doesn’t let the prospect’s actions control what she needs to accomplish. As a result, she gets done what needs to be done.


There is no doubt that Lisa has strength of character. Part of the reason is that she knows exactly what she wants to get from Harvey. Either he places an order or not and if he does, he pays full-counter price.

Everything that Harvey throws at her is his attempt to get her distracted from her goals. Would there have been any point to Lisa reacting to his comment that he only dealt with Cathy? Even to say, “Cathy is not here,” would lead him to say, “But she knows I never pay full-counter.”

Lisa would then be in the situation of reacting to what Harvey was saying instead of acting in a way that reached her goal. By focusing on her goal and acting accordingly, she forced Harvey to react to her.

Harvey did place an order. However, had he not placed an order, he would have come to that decision quickly. A quick decision to not place an order would save Lisa time. What’s the point of reacting to Harvey when he might not place an order and waste all that time anyway?


The most important aspect of acting in a way that gets you what you want, is to know what you want. While this may sound obvious, what was Lisa’s goal in the story? What did she want from Harvey?

If you answer, “to make a sale,” you are wrong. Her goal was to get Harvey, as quickly and politely as possible, to the point where he would make the buy or no-buy decision. Either decision was fine with her, just make it.

In general, getting the prospect to buy should not be the goal. The goal should be getting the prospect to make a decision. Either “yes” or “no” is ok because the decision to do that is what is important.

If you make the goal to get a “yes,” then you’ll find yourself getting sidetracked by the prospect in every instance. Why? Because anything he says you will interpret as an objection. A typical salesperson then gets pulled into the overcome objection, trial close, overcome objection, trial close scenario.

Think of the story. If Lisa had reacted to Harvey’s statements, she would have been pulled into overcoming Harvey’s objections. Why bother doing that if you don’t have to?


Actors act on purpose to get a reaction from the audience. Shouldn’t you do the same?

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