What If They Were Wrong?

Are you a glass-half-full person? Chugging away on The Little Train That Could?  Of courseyou are.  You’ve been taught since kindergarten that positive people — those opportunity seekers — are the chosen ones.  Stay far far away from that ‘problem or negative’ person label, even if your cheery chatter is a sham.

Here’s a secret:  Approximately 40% of the population have language preferences focused on problems, not opportunities.   Another 40% are opportunity seekers, and the remaining 20% can go back and forth without strong preference.

This language preference for hearing a message in a certain way is simply how you are motivated; it has nothing to do with being successful or better looking.  This preference shows up in words that resonate with you.  And because people like their own words, if you match some of your listener’s favorite words as part of your conversations, you end up in sales Shangri-La – emotional bonding at the unconscious level.

That tiny piece of information can determine whether an advisor likes you or not.  And people buy from people they like.


Here’s how this works in a sales conversation:

If you ask a glass-half-full advisor:  “What problems are you having with your portfolio?“   His internal dialogue mutters: “I don’t have problems…I’m looking for opportunities.”  Arrgh! Doomed because of 1 word.

If you ask a glass-half-empty advisor:  “What opportunities are you looking for in your portfolio?”  His reflex brain chatters: “I have problems to fix before I can even think about opportunities”.  You are 0 for 2.

It’s easy to imagine how both conversations might have gone differently if the opening questions had been reversed.  This is the power of language and listening to your audience.

Glass-half-empty (problem language) people are not bad or lesser human beings.  They are simply motivated to solve problems and they prefer certain words that can result inunconscious agreement. People who use words in the problem category are driven to clear away obstacles.

Glass-half-full (opportunity language) people are not the exalted ones; they merely are motivated by taking advantage of opportunity.  They chomp at the bit for what could be.

If you are careful in listening to an advisor, you will hear the words he uses and will be able to take an educated guess on his preference.


Here’s a tip for when you only have a nanosecond to make a connection:

Use both problem and opportunity words in your opening / email / voicemail and you will resonate regardless of what the advisor prefers.

Sound easy?  Don’t jump too soon.  Your own brain REALLY doesn’t like and rarely uses the words that don’t jive with your personal preference.


“I’m calling because based on what if have gathered about your firm you may want to take a look at how our approach might help you increase the return on your portfolios while decreasing the risk”.

 Oh so simple, yet oh so skillful as “increasing’ is a word one group of advisors likes and‘decreasing’ is a word the other group likes.


Here is a smattering of words–benefit language – that crush features (facts) every time. They can help you have better conversations and minimize the bad ones (ding ding ding – we have two winners in that sentence).  If you use these words thoughtfully, you increase your chances of visiting Sales Shangri-La and avoid the land of ‘I’ll take a look at it’.



How would you open a conversation using both sides of the patterns that reflect the opportunities your product provides as well as the problems it avoids?

It should not be automatic for you—in fact If it takes longer than 60 seconds, you are on the road to mastering a subtle but powerful skill!