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How to Escape the ‘Either/Or’ Dilemma

“Either/or.”

That’s a turn of phrase passed down from generation to generation of salespeople. And it brings to mind such negative stereotypes as white shoes and plaid pants. But if you look at the phrase intelligently — and apply the psychology of persuasion — it can be transformed into a powerful tool.

How does the “either or close” work? “Well Corey, I’ve got time to see you either this afternoon at 2:00 or tomorrow morning at 10:00. Which of those times work for you?”

The thinking here is that you have cleverly crafted your language in such a way that the customer will have to pick one of them, and voilà — you have advanced in the sales progression. The problem? That isn’t really what happens.

In fact, a statement like the one above actually makes the customer want to resist. Their first instinct is to say, “No.”

Why? Some psychologists call this reactance. They resent the fact that you are forcing their hand, and they want to resist.

Sure, they still may pick one of your options. But they will resent you for it.

So how can you change this approach?

Easy: “Corey, I’ve got time to see you either this afternoon at 2:00 or tomorrow morning at 10:00. Do either of those times work for you?”

I changed one key word. I replaced “which” with “do either,” and it completely changed the complexion of the ask. It’s assertive, not aggressive. It’s subtle and sophisticated, and it in no way creates pushback.

What if neither of those times are convenient for the customer? Simply find another time on which you both can agree.

Your use of language is one of the keys to sales success. The words you use and the phrases you choose have a huge bearing on what the customer thinks, says and does.

Get smarter. Sell more.