When I first learned sales long ago, I was taught to control the situation. And, why not?! I knew the prospect needed my product, I knew more about my product that he/she did, and they just needed to sit and hear my story so I could tell them everything I knew and then ask them to sign on the dotted line.
Of course, then would come the deluge of stalls and objections, but I was taught how to skillfully and slyly overcome each and every one of those, too! You might have sat through one of those kinds of presentations. You were interested and saw some things you wanted to know more about, so you asked a question. But, the salesperson was trained to forge forward, so he/she said something like, ‘I’m on page 7 and you’re on page 10. Let me catch up.’ And, then they pressed through their robotic presentation. How did that make you feel? Probably disengaged.
Today’s prospects are much better educated when making a buying decision than ever before. Add to that the trend that Burger King started many years ago of the customer having it ‘Their way’ and the selling environment has become customer-driven. So, I have developed a way to make selling much less work. Let the customer tell me what they want and see if I can be a solution to their challenge. Not, let me see if can squeeze what I have into a box that looks like it will fit their challenge.
So, during the presentation, the salesperson should only talk 20% of the time and the prospect should talk the other 80%. Also, most sales trainers teach the methodologies of sales and leave out the part that really gets you the sale, the emotional investment. Here’s an axiom for you to sell by: People buy on emotion and support it with logic. Unfortunately, salespeople are taught to sell on logic and then get the prospect emotionally involved. In my experience personally and in training hundreds of salespeople, the latter doesn’t work.
The basics of getting the job done
Open with the statement:
“(Name of prospect), you told me over the phone that you had a concern with _______, if you’ll tell me more about that, we’ll be able to decide if doing business together makes sense for both of us.” Then be quiet and let the prospect talk. Take copious notes. If the prospect says something you’re not sure about, stop them and say, “Tell me more about _____” and let them expound.
Here’s a caution: Don’t be too quick to share your solution!!! Let the Buyer elaborate on the details so that you can feedback how you will solve each detail of the challenge with your solution, but only when the time is right. Be sure to include probes that look for facts and emotions, such as:
“Tell me more about______”
“What I hear you saying is _________”
“It sounds like you’re _______”
“You seem very _______”
By using such probes, you’ll direct the conversation, but let the Buyer share their “pains”. It also let’s them hear themselves say and feel the “pain”, which is much more effective than you stating it. In fact, one of the most important tools I like to use is to find an area of “pain” and then let the Buyer live in it for a moment.
After a Buyer makes a statement like, “I’ll never do something like that again”, I’ll say something like, “It sounds like there’s a story. Do you mind sharing it with me?”
Most of the time I get a detailed story filled with all the emotion that went along with the event. What this allows is for me to come back on the flip side and ask, “What would it have been like if you would have had a solution? How would that have made you feel?”
I let the Buyer bask in the warmth of the situation having gone right, instead of wrong, and I can now start to interject how my product/service could have made the latter a reality, with all of the pleasant emotions to go along with it. Now, guess what has just happened to my relationship with the Buyer. I am now associated with pleasant feelings.
Another important part of this step is using the question, “Is there anything else I should know?” Before moving on to any new points during this step, ask that question. The reason is that it allows the prospect to think about things one more time and they may come up with more reasons they need to buy from you.
Depending on the depth and level of the sale, this process can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or more. In some cases, this will make up your entire first meeting.
Only when you have gathered all the information that you need to fully understand the prospect’s needs and desires do you ask for other critical information. To name a few, what impact it will have on them personally if they do, or don’t, solve the concern. On the company? What other resources are they researching to solve the concern and why they haven’t used them? Who else has to be involved in making a decision to purchase? What is their timeline for solving their challenge?
Now you can go into your video presentation, flip chart or whatever medium you’re using to display your product or service. The difference is that now you are armed with what is important to them so that you can focus the presentation on what you can do for them, specifically, and leave out anything that isn’t important to them.
Once done, be sure to summarize the meeting so far to make sure you and the Buyer are both on the same page. Now, here is something you must learn to do, especially at this point. Ask the question, “Is there anything else I should know?” There may yet be something important that your prospect hasn’t shared with you and you don’t want to lose the sale because you didn’t get that detail.