schwäbisch hall, hallia venezia, costume-1099799.jpg

A mask may disguise, but what a person says is a real give away

Welcome to Monday

I could feel the energy draining from my body as I listened to the woes of my prospect. The more I listened and focused on building rapport the worse I felt. I had to do something.

I dragged up all the positive energy I had and asked “Sharlene, what is it about your company which works well?”

I could see the colour in her face change almost instantly and over the next few minutes I managed to resuscitate the sales call into positive territory.

I find it easy to reflect the mood of people I meet with. The mood, however, is usually a Mask reflecting things which have been going on in their life and at work in the immediate past. It is easy to assume the mask is a true indication of the character and state of mind of the prospect/client.

The risk is you reflect the mask they are wearing and not the person. You do this assuming rapport is being built and merrily go on to present your product or service. I know I have done this, particularly when I was a rookie sales person, and was totally dumbfounded when my prospect/client dismissed my proposal or offer out of hand.

A professional  salesperson takes note of the mask people wear. They also seek to test the initial impression the mask portrays with thoughtful questions. Actually, it doesn’t really matter what the question is, what is more important is the tone and manner that the prospect/client uses to answer the questions.

We all want to see behind the mask. It is the words a person uses which gives away what is really going on behind the mask.  Even more specifically its… they say it.

The success of a sales presentation or attempt to influence is dependent on these critical early interchanges.

Let’s look at some examples, how they respond to your question and how a professional might best deal with them.

Example #1 – Mr Peters

THE MASK:      Stern and somewhat forbidding


ANSWER:        Mr Peters answers your question in a self assured and somewhat opinionated manner

RESPONSE:     The professional knows immediately that they need to use strong eye contact and respond in a firm and confident manner.  They know that if they slip back into a more obliging posture, this Mr Peters will chew them up and spit them out.

This is an easy example as the Mask that Mr Peters wears is usually  consistent with the manner in which they answer your question.

Now lets contrast Mr Peters with the next example

Example #2 – Ms Noble

THE MASK:      Stern and somewhat forbidding


ANSWER:         Ms Noble answers your question in a very formal manner and she offers a rational and considered response

RESPONSE:      Although the professional saw the same Mask on Ms Noble, her answers denote a less aggressive style of person who will respond to a more intimate but business like approach.

Mr Peters will respect the more intense “I’m not to be toyed with” approach whereas our Ms Noble would expect and respond better to a formal yet more engaging approach.

Same MASK different ANSWER, different RESPONSE

Now lets look at another example with an entirely different Mask

Example #3 – Mr Harper

THE MASK:      Affable and friendly

ANSWER:         Mr Harper answers your question with some enthusiasm but somehow turns your question into a question for you


RESPONSE:      The professional quickly realizes that Mr Harper’s Mask seeks to present an affable image but in reality he is actually sizing you up and trying to ascertain whether and how this encounter is going be to Mr Harper’s advantage.  The professional will quickly adapt to the situation and start highlighting what is in this for Mr Harper (The WIIFM)

The professional is also aware that if he is not calm, careful and alert he/she will end up being sold by Mr Harper on why Mr Harper is not buying today.

The mask is often an unconsciously acquired form of sales resistance.  A mask does exactly what one would expect. It conveys to all and sundry an image that suits the wearer not necessarily where they are at or what they are actually thinking…..But the answer is the real give away.

Today’s question and actions

What Masks have you observed? Even the most crusted on Masks can be seen through with good questions.

  • Have a few really positive questions up your sleeve like “What is working well” or “Where can you see something like this adding value?”
  • Use the ‘sharp angle’ if you feel yourself drowning in negative territory. “That is exactly why I called …can you see why?”
  • Sometimes you can just ask them to remove the mask “Jason, is that how you really feel? or is that just where you are today?”

Some masks are easier to spot that others.  Of course you can read more about the Masks people wear in the book “Selling to the 7 Emotional Buying Styles or downloading the Sales Analyzer app (see link on the right)

Take a magnifying glass and zoom in on the Buying Style of your prospect.

Have a great week!

Reprint permission

Permission is granted to reprint this article with the condition it is republished unedited and in full with full attribution to the author and the authors bio. Please provide a link to the reprint to the following email;

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top