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Dr. Persuasion

Did you know that more than half of rough sales are conducted on the phone?

Fear of speaking to groups and strangers – even one on one, even on the phone (cold calling) tops the list of human fears.

“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death.

Death is number two.

Does that sound right?

This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

-- Jerry Seinfeld

It may sound ridiculous, but it’s true. In our business, we must not let fear scare us.

I recently had the honor and pleasure of interviewing Dr. Yaniv Zaid, an internationally recognized expert on persuasion and debate, to learn more about the fear of cold calling and how to triumph.

Dr. Zaid explained that the deeply embedded human fear of public speaking extends to cold calling (which today is an almost inevitable need in the diamond industry.)

When making a cold call, we are forced to communicate with someone whom we do not know, ultimately offering him something. Almost always, we will find ourselves looking for excuses or procrastinating to avoid this situation. Before we carry out the mission of picking up the telephone (or standing in front of an audience to deliver a speech) our inner fears surface, threatening to drown us: the fear of rejection, refusal, insult, humiliation and the most terrible tragedy of all – our total defeat.

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The Doctor's Prescription

Dr. Zaid realized during his extensive study of human communication that while the debate methodology was advantageous in many fields, the public at large was unfamiliar with it. He therefore began writing executive lessons, which developed into lectures and eventually formed bestselling books and a thriving executive training practice.

"You have to understand [when approaching a cold call] that the ‘nothing’, you already have.” commented Dr. Zaid.

“So you have nothing to lose,” he continued. “You need to enjoy the conversation make calm contact with the client. The best case scenario is that you will succeed!” He goes on, “Separate the person from the issue. Do not take rejection personally. You are both sellers. He might sell you an excuse and you might sell him a product, but if you leave him with a good feeling, he will return and buy from you next time."

A short story to illustrate his point, taken from Dale Canegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People:

The sun and the wind quarreled amongst themselves to determine who was the strongest. The wind said, “I'll prove that I’m the strongest. Do you see that old man wearing a coat? I'll bet you I can cause him to undress quicker than you."

So the sun hid behind a cloud and the wind blew and blew up a storm, but the old man just tightened his coat around him.

Eventually, the wind gave up and the sun came out from behind the cloud, smiling toward the old man. It didn’t take a long until the old man took his coat off.

The sun winked, and said to the wind, “Tenderness and friendship are always stronger than rage and the use of force.”

"You can significantly increase your chances of closing a deal [on a cold call.] You can develop positive long-term relationships,” said Dr. Zaid. “Salespeople have a fear that customers will not like them. That’s true. People do not like to be pressured to buy, but they love to buy. Tell them a story," suggested Dr. Zaid. "The story is an added value, and everybody wants more of that."

How to be Persuasive and a Winner in the Diamond Industry

In recent years, the world has become a global village - small and crowded. Competition is everywhere, and only the very best win.

We tend to assume that the current technological era is beneficial, but actually, it hurts salespeople for two reasons. The pervasive use of technology not only puts our crucial verbal skills at risk, since we use them less, but also the very accessibility of information makes our jobs as salespeople harder. Today, speed is all that counts in sales. The less time the client has to think, compare information, or consult his friends, the greater your potential to succeed. In the current sales arena, there is no time to hesitate, stutter or fear.

Every year, rough sales generate over $15 billion and polished sales generate over $20 billion. Diamond jewelry produces upwards of $75 billion in sales every year! These numbers cannot be dismissed. Since over half of these deals are made by phone or in person, our persuasion skills have no room for error. And even though a significant percentage of sales are made online today (the selection is better, the prices are lower, and the whole purchase process is not accompanied by the pressure of salespeople) there is an endless, often overwhelming number of options. Eventually, even the online client will require a knowledgeable, supportive salesperson who will provide excellent service and close the deal. As Dr. Zaid mentioned, “Studies show that even today, most successful selling is face to face. There is a return to retro. People are looking for interaction."

He continued, “By learning how to persuade, you can increase your sales by a significant percentage. We’re talking 20-30% in personal sales, and more than 10% in online sales.” Considering the yearly sales generated in our industry, a 20-30% increase is a lot of money.

Why not polish you skills? That way, you won't remain a diamond in the rough.


Dr. Yaniv Zaid, Doctor Persuasion International Expert

Dr. Zaid is an economist by trade and holds a PhD in law, specializing in legal persuasion in the digital age.

He has published five bestselling books on debate and the art of persuasion. He served Israel’s Haifa University as Chairman of the Debate Club and led the team to victory in dozens international competitions. In 2003, he secured third place at the World Championships in Individual Speaking and in 2010, he went on to be named Outstanding Professor for his Art of Persuasion course at Haifa University. Today, Dr. Zaid is a practicing business consultant offering executive training in debate and public speaking worldwide.

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