Top Gun: Maverick, Chaff and Basic Sales Tips

If you’ve seen the new Top Gun: Maverick movie you witnessed the air-to-air combat scenes where the bad guys are chasing the good guys trying to blow them up with missiles. In order to avoid these weapons from hitting the intended target pilots deploy a countermeasure to distract the missiles.

It’s called “chaff,” and it is emitted from a fighter plane as a radar countermeasure. Essentially, chaff serves to distract and confuse a radar-guided missile from hitting its intended target.

Chances are when you’re searching for basic sales tips on Google you won’t be using the word “chaff” in your query. How exactly does this apply to sales?

Your sales questions target what you need to know to help a customer accomplish their goals. Your customer has been trained (in countless sales situations) to release “chaff” in the form of distractions to the process. How you respond to these distractions will determine your success.

Chaff-like comments from a customer might include:

“I’m just looking.”

“I want to shop around and get the best price.”

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

“I want to think about it.”

“I need to talk it over with…”

Think about each of those statements. More importantly, think about how you respond to them. You cannot solve a customer’s problem if you give up at the first sign of a deflection.

Your “Auto-Response”

Take a second look at the list of “chaff” statements above. What are the chances that you will hear one (or all) of those statements in the next day (or, for some of you, in the next hour)? Pretty darn high, yes?

If you know you will hear those very words in the very near future, why not prepare an “auto-response”—a trained habit for receiving that statement and quickly turning it around. The key is to rehearse your response to those statements so thoroughly that you don’t have to think about your comeback in the moment.

Your decision about chaff statements will have already been made, your response already rehearsed, and you will be prepared with your chaff-deflecting approach.

The chaff is a sign, my friends—a sign that the customer is still very close in the vicinity. Keep asking the right questions and stay away from the chaff.

Stay the course. Zero in. Change their world.


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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore is the Founder and President of Shore Consulting, Inc. a company specializing in field-tested and proven consumer psychology-based sales training programs.

Jeff is a top-selling author, host of the popular sales podcast, The Buyer’s Mind, and an award-winning keynote speaker. He holds the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the NSA’s exclusive Million Dollar Speaker’s Group.

With over 30 years of real-world, frontline experience, Jeff’s advanced sales strategies spring from extensive research into the psychology of buying and selling. He teaches salespeople how to climb inside the mind of their customers to sell the way their buyers want to buy. Using these modern, game-changing techniques, Jeff Shore’s clients generated over $30 billion in sales last year.