Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Ramit Sethi taught me how to buy a car

Published: 07 Jan 2013

Being opposed to shallow and manipulative sales tactics has limited my view. I was close-minded. I have been reading a lot from Ramit Sethi and he advocates using scripts. Initially I thought this was some gimmick, designed to exert influence without going for a proper win/win outcome. They aren’t.

Scripts are merely a way of preparing how we are going to act and what we are going to say. We do this anyway with habits, or worse, we blurt out something and embarrass ourselves.

Over the last few months my perception on this has changed and I view them more as a tool to get to a win/win situation. It’s not a script that I follow, but many scripts designed to help me interact with specific people. Recently I had a test to use a script in a way that mattered financially and in a more competitive scenario. I went to buy a new car.

I prepared myself by listening to the script an FBI Hostage Negotiator used when he bought a car. I reworked the script to be entirely genuine. Then I went to buy the car and learn a lot. I succeeded in both.

Be prepared but be flexible.

My plan was immediately ruined. The car we all thought was the one turned out to be a different, higher model. I had to quickly revise my script and make snap decisions I didn’t anticipate. I did this before engaging again. I still made a mistake here, but it was relatively minor.

Understand their script, too.

All sales people have scripts they use. That’s just basic competence. By familiarizing myself with the scripts I was able to gauge how I was doing.

I was also able to put in hooks for my own script based on what they said and did. This, however, almost made me laugh at one point. I was presented with a terrible offer, with “Ok, you win” and balloons drawn on the paper. Just like the Hostage Negotiator. This meant it was working!

My script is a guide, not doctrine.

It is really frightening and exciting when the script works. However, even when it was working flawlessly I felt some anxiety that I was going to fail immediately. I made some minor concessions that deviated from the script. That was ok because I was making the choices on my own, not in response to their tactics.

It’s important to understand that these scripts can, will and should change. We have to be flexible. The more scripts we have and practice, the better equipped we are to deal with unexpected events. Ideally, unexpected events simply mean merging two scripts.

A script is still genuine.

Not once did I tell a lie or felt exploitative. I know it’s impossible to exploit a car salesman, but this expands into a way of life and of thought. My scripts mean I’m prepared, but I’m preparing myself for someone else.

This is genuinely me and how I present myself. This is my best foot forward. Having a script is more representative of the real me than improvisation.