After reading Chris Voss’s book, Never Split the Difference, the book Exactly What to Say was recommended to me as another book that helps, in part, answer the question: “how do I negotiate?” Unlike Chris’ book, however, this one is a super-quick read, or if you listen to it on Audible like I did, it’s about 45 minutes on 1.5x speed.
Although it’s quick, it’s also massively actionable. With very little story to go along with it, this book cuts straight to the chase with the magic words to say, when to say them, and examples to inspire you.
I’ve never read a book quite like this, and although some may argue this isn’t really a “book” because of its short length or just an expanded bullet point list of items, it does carry huge magic with it.
I really loved how clearly and simply Phil laid it out. For example, when selling, use the words “just imagine,” and just those two little words can work wonders for you.
Sounds simple, right? Maybe too easy? But when you tell a person to imagine something, they see it—just like if I were to tell you to imagine an elephant riding roller skates right now. You can’t not see that in your head. So if you’re selling a solution to a problem, tell your customers, whether it’s on the phone, or on a sales page, or in a podcast, to imagine what life would be like without the thing you are selling, without that pain, or with that goal achieved.
Phil also gives you a lot of ways to ask for things without being direct, as a way to almost “corner” your counterpart into providing an answer for you when they typically wouldn’t. For example, following up a “no” with a “what makes you say that?” can often lead to the exact reasons why a person doesn’t want to work with you.
Another good example is this: If you have a great conversation with someone and they seem interested in hiring you as a coach, but after your offer they say they can’t make a commitment, you can follow up with “what makes you say that?” They will have to search for an answer to give you, such as, “well, I have to ask my spouse first.” In which case you can follow up again with, “okay, but what makes you say that?” And if they tell you they like to make decisions together, you aren’t going to get anywhere with just one person on the phone, so you can try to get both on the phone!
There are lots of examples like this that I don’t want to spoil for you because it’s that easy to follow—and a book you have to read.
I actually wrote down all 17 points Phil makes in the book on a notecard and taped it near my computer at home so I can always remember those short magic words. I recommend you do the same!
The last thing I’ll say about Exactly What to Say is that it is definitely for anyone who converses or negotiates with others . . . and really that’s all of us, right? Whether you’re selling anything or not, you are trying to help others see things from your side or your perspective, whether you’re a teacher, parent, coworker, or with your customers or future customers.
So get your notecards and a piece of tape ready, because you’re going to want to write these little magic words down!