How To Land More Clients By Selling Nothing

Active listening builds trust, the real key to building a relationship with a client.

Imagine this scenario: The prospective client has answered your questions and told you their problem. What do you do next?

If you answered “start closing,” please go to the back of the class. There is a much better way for attracting high-paying clients to enroll with you.

First, sell nothing. Instead, prove you listened. That’s the advice of a sales coach who has been on 30,000 face-to-face sales calls.

“Years ago, I started repeating back what they want and why they wanted it to them for clarity,” says sales expert Joe Pallo. “It did clarify things, but it did a lot more.”

Don’t be a typical salesperson if you want to land more high-paying clients. That’s probably music to the ears of most professionals and consultants because they abhor the idea of being thought of as a salesperson.


By selling nothing before repeating back what the prospects say, Pallo reports the following things happened:

These are all great outcomes that build rapport and increase closing rates.

“Most importantly it allowed me to sell what they wanted to buy, versus me selling what I wanted to sell,” said Pallo. “Often, I heard, ‘Joe, you said it better than I did.’ What a great spot to be in and I haven’t even started my pitch.”

What Pallo did was really listen to the prospect and prove it to them.

Pallo has been selling for decades. He financed his college education by selling books door-to-door for the Southwestern Company of Nashville, Tennessee. Years later he became a sales trainer with the Tom James Company and worked with numerous startups and family run businesses.

In 2017, Pallo took his own advice and started his own company, Sell Nothing, LLC. As a sales coach, he focuses on making sure that the basic sale principles are understood and implemented.

“Two words are probably the most valuable in sales and are underused: What else?” says Pallo. “By asking ‘what else?’ it forces prospects to add to their answer, paint a better picture, and create a better understanding.”

In building a relationship, Pallo says whoever is talking is buying. If you are talking more than the prospect is, you are buying their objections. Discoveries in neuroscience prove decision-making is largely emotional, not logical.

“Emotions are weird, fickle things that are constantly changing,” says Pallo. “In a sense, they are nothing. Selling nothing is purely an emotional sale. What they want is important, but why they want it is even more important.”

Bottom Line: Never pitch until the prospect has told you what they want and why they want it. Prove you heard and understood the prospect. Active listening builds trust, the real key to building a relationship with a client.

Henry DeVries, M.B.A., cofounder and CEO of Indie Books International, speaks to thousands of business people each year on how to persuade with a story. In his writing


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