Selling Techniques - The Parrot Principle

Selling technique - the parrot principle

How to get an influencer to pitch the product for you to the decision maker.


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Selling Technique – The Parrot Principle

© David Peterson – 2006

I use the Internet to drive my prospects onto one of my many web pages which are designed to sell and if they are interested they will fill out an RFI (Request for Information). I then have someone follow-up with that person almost immediately. This means that ultimately someone has to actually call the prospect to get them started into our sales process. 

Just because the prospect has filled out an RFI doesn’t mean they are necessarily interested in the product. They may be filling out 30 other RFI’s just like the one on your website. You see this a lot of times with MLM leads. The “suspect” fills out 30 different home business opportunity advertisements in one online sitting. Someone has to call these “suspects” and decide which one of these leads is actually a prospect. 

Unfortunately they may be a prospect but they may not actually be the ultimate decision maker. During that initial phone call the sales representative is supposed to ask “you and who else is going to make this decision?” This is such a fundamental question I have to wonder why sales people miss it so often. Just ask… “You and who else will be making this decision?” It’s not a tough question but you have to know this if you plan on being successful in selling your product. 

Once you realize there is another decision maker in the process you at least have to make an attempt to get that person on the phone. Let’s face it; if you are not talking to the decision maker then you are not talking to the man or woman who has the wallet or purse needed to pay for your product. This is a pretty simple fact – no money, no sale. 

There will be occasions when you cannot get to the decision maker. Why you couldn’t get to the decision maker or how you get to the decision maker is the topic for a future article but let us assume you can’t get to them. What do you do next?

The next step is pretty straight forward. You have to use a new skill set that I have term the “parrot principle.” The parrot principle states that you have to pitch your product in a manner that the influencer you are speaking with will use your exact words when they pitch for you to the decision maker. Just like a parrot, Polly only wants the cracker because you told her she wanted the cracker.

As an example you may be selling software to a group of lawyers. The person that uses the software is not the lawyer, it is the office manager. In this case the office manager is the “influencer.” The influencer is the person who actually needs and wants your product however they don’t have access to the money to purchase your product. You know you need to speak directly to the decision maker but you may not have access to that person. What you need to do is to tell the influencer exactly what to tell the decision maker. It’s like training a parrot.

A parrot repeats exactly what you teach it. The influencer will do the same thing. The skill set you have to learn is to make sure you tell the influencer exactly what to say for each objection. Here is how the conversation progresses if you don’t follow this rule:

“…Mr. Jones I just had a conversation with XYZ company and they are proposing that we purchase their product.”

“…Ms. Smith we have had this conversation before and we both agreed that we could wait.”

“…You are right Mr. Jones we did agree.”

Do you want to know why you lose so many sales, read the above dialog again? You didn’t get a chance to pitch to Mr. Jones yourself; you left it up to the influencer to make the pitch for you. The problem is you didn’t cover all of the bases and Ms. Smith didn’t have the answer to the stalling objection of “…we have had this conversation before…”

You need to specifically tell the influencer what to say. You have to understand that they agreed to wait last time so if you want them to buy now there has to be a new benefit for them that the influencer can articulate to the decision maker for you. Imagine if you had told Ms Smith to say this when she heard the stalling objection above:

“…I agree that we decided to wait the last time he called but now it was mentioned that if we don’t purchase it today I feel that ABC will happen and you and I know we need the product.”

There is no substitute to speaking directly with the decision maker. However every once in a while you can’t get through to the person with the money. If you use the parrot principle and you anticipate the objections that will come up in the conversation you can tell the influencer exactly what to say and they will sell your product for you. If you can’t sell it to the decision maker someone will have to do it for you. 

Selling isn't about luck, Practice using the parrot principle.


David Peterson

David Peterson

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