Sales Strategies, Part 1: Stripping Line Technique

by KFC on January 12, 2009

When you are presenting a draft resolution during formal caucus, you need to have the mindset of a salesperson. Your product is your draft resolution, and your potential customers are all the other delegates who have yet to be convinced to vote for your resolution. Therefore, it may be valuable to learn the strategies that salespeople use in order to successfully pitch their product.

I will share several sales techniques with you on this blog that you can apply to Model UN, starting off with the “stripping line.” In the sales profession, a salesperson uses the stripping line technique when he allows an angry repeat customer to vent while pausing from his sales pitch, and then re-directs the conversation when the customer has ran out of steam. This prevents the salesperson from having to be on the defensive at the customer’s will or from aggravating the customer to be even more negative.

In Model UN, you may ocassionally come across an aggressive delegate from a rival bloc who is passionately opposed to your draft resolution. When you yield to questions during formal caucus, this delegate will often ask an animated, negatively rhetorical, and extremely long-winded question in order to point out flaws in your draft resolution rather than provide you with a clear, answerable question. The question is meant to put you on the defensive if not stump you and make you look bad. This is where you can use the stripping line technique.

It’s very simple: don’t try to answer the delegate’s question… at least not yet. The animated and long-winded question is just the delegate venting out negativity, just like how the angry customer vented some steam to the salesperson. Instead, ask the delegate to please repeat (or clarify) the question.

Oftentimes, the delegate will be caught in surprise that he didn’t stump you with his supposedly rhetorical question. The delegate probably won’t be able to ask the question in the same passionate and long-winded fashion the second time around, and any delegate who tries will probably look like he’s trying too hard. Furthermore, the question will probably be more concise the second time around since the delegate thinks he wasn’t able to get his rhetoric across the first time. To complete the sales analogy, this is when you have re-directed the delegate from negative rhetoric to asking a clearer question that you can provide an answer to.

Granted, such animated, negatively rhetorical, and long-winded questions do not come up at most formal caucuses. Most longer questions are due to delegates not having mastered being concise, so you don’t need to apply this technique and can just answer the question then. But in case you do come across a passionately negative delegate whose intent is clearly to challenge you, you now know that all it takes to diffuse some negativity and force the questioner to be more concise is to simply ask the delegate to “please repeat the question.”

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