This week we end off lingo trilogy with persuasive tactics that don’t actually involve actual lingo, but the semantics and environment to set up the ‘close.’ A close, in a sales cycle, is where your customer to buy. I know, I know, this is ITSolopreneurs, not SalesSolopreneurs. The ‘close’ in our world might be guiding your management team to a decision, or convincing them of a better way to approach a project. These are two of many examples. You can even use these with your 4 yr old persuading him that kindergarten is fun!
Besides the sales guys, most of your office will be comprised of people who have not a clue that these techniques actually exist. By the end of this post, I will have essentially cross-pollinated you with some very subtle, yet very powerful persuasive principles. I invite you to try out these proven techniques that have been helping people invest their hard earned money in vacuum cleaners, salad spinners, and other stuff that have transformed lives for generations with three low monthly payments. But wait! There’s more!…
How did I Come to Know these?
In last week’s post, I mentioned that I had taken a ‘sabbatical’ so to speak, a few years back to help my husband build his financials practice. In short, I had to learn how to sell insurance successfully. Quickly. Effectively. After investing thousands of dollars in sales courses, books, and other training, I learned how to sell. When I returned to the world of consulting, these skills stuck with me, and I was able to infuse them in with my work as a consultant. It made a world of difference. What was once a struggle to persuade, was now smooth. What was once a battle to uncover the root causes of issues that created resistance, was now simple. In many cases, it’s all thanks to these techniques that follow.
’m sure you’ve heard that people only buy stuff from you when they like you. This is actually a myth. People won’t necessarily buy from you when they like you. They buy from you when they trust you. Like and trust are two different things. I further this to say in the corporate world, trust and respect are also two different things. In the world of sales, it could be enough to persuade someone to come to a buying decision when they like and trust you. In the consulting world, people will follow you only when they like, trust, and respect you.
Why the difference? There was a guy with whom I worked. He’s known for working hard. Likable. Very likable. After a few months of getting to know him, however, I discovered that he likes to cut corners. He’ll always try to find ways to scope down whatever his tasks are, and seemed to approach problems from a very limited angle, never really seeing the big picture. It occurred to me that he had developed this reputation in the organization. In meetings, I noticed how often he was shot down for his ideas, even though some of them might have actually been good. I saw first hand how much harder he had to work to get people to see his point of view because no one respected him.
You can be an internal consultant or an external consultant. You can occupy a position of leadership in your organization, or you can be a person who exemplifies grassroots leadership from anywhere in the organization. People will listen to you and follow your lead when they like, trust and respect you.
In ‘How to get your Yay like Toddlers and Dogs,’ I wrote about how you establish rapport. Simply, you take an interest in them first. Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves. Seriously! I invite you to conduct this social experiment. Spend a day focusing every full conversation with whom you interact. First of all, it’s going to feel absolutely weird, because you’re so used to talking about yourself. Bus second, you might start to notice how people actually enjoy talking to you, because they get to talk about themselves! There are many other ways to establish rapport with your folks. Refer back to the toddlers and dogs, two of whom are experts in establishing rapport.
It’s one of the first fundamentals. Copy the other person’s speech patterns. It’s technique #3 in 7 Super Powerful Persuasion Techniques (by Jim Bennett).
This is partly innate in human nature that when engaging in conversation, there is a pace and rhythm in which both of you engage to carry on the dialogue. Think of the last time (I’m sure you have) spoken to someone before who speaks half a beat slower than you do. It’s crazy annoying! It’s annoying to you because it’s not your natural pace of dialogue. On the other hand, if you were in conversation with someone who spoke exactly at the same pace as you, you’d feel right at home, enjoying a jolly good chat.
By being conscious of the pace at which a person speaks, smiles, frowns, even the use of metaphors, and the type of words used, you are actually mirroring them. You start to draw them to you. It makes them feel more relaxed and encourages them to open up to you. It’s very effective when establishing rapport and developing a relationship.
Thankfully, it again comes naturally to us as humans. With just a little bit of awareness, you can pay more attention to your mirroring techniques. You’ll quickly gain the likeability of the person.
Handling Objections Pre-Emptively
There was once a guy who said that he could arrive at a prospective client’s house in a pink dress, conduct a sales presentation, and the client would think nothing of it. So he walks in. After the usual pleasantries, he explains that there was a competition going on in the office that whoever made it to the Top Salesman of the Year had to wear a pink dress to his very next meeting. How did the clients react? “Oh, ok,” followed by a hearty chuckle. The evening progressed like nothing else happened. Three birds with one stone. The ice was broken instantly. In addition, not only did he explain away the pink dress objection, he used it to convey to his clients that he was the top salesperson of the year. Boom.
Before you go into your presentation, your next meeting, think of all the obvious objections that your audience will have. Then build it into your presentation, before they have a chance to bring it up. You’ve not only handled the objection, it shows that you actually put in thought and adequately prepped for your speal.
The worst thing you can possibly do is to keep your fingers crossed that they don’t notice, and just gloss over the problem… because they will notice. They always notice. If they don’t notice, they’re not really listening, in which case you’re equally as much trouble as if they would have picked up it. Be pre-emptive. Explain the pink dress right away.
Walk a Mile in their Shoes. Wrong Shoes.
A pitfall that is often seen with consultants or anyone who presents a problem is that they assume they know the perspective of their audience. They are frequently correct. However, the root problem is sometimes not what your audience communicates at face value.
A few months ago, I was invited to a discovery meeting with a potential vendor. One of the front line managers walked in, arms folded, with a “don’t jerk me around” type attitude. They wanted the vendors to explain to them how Oracle made certain calculations, that were actually trade secrets. They communicated their view of the problem: the system wasn’t producing an accurate forecast. When asked how much historical data was being put in, they simply dismissed it and said that their processes currently didn’t afford them to input any timely data.
Dude. Crappy data, crappy forecast. The forecast is driven by the data behind it. The problem wasn’t that the product wasn’t working, or that they didn’t understand. There’s nothing to understand if you have bad data. The consultants, in this case, picked upon how delicate the situation was, and the big the egos were. They handled it like professionals. They started asking questions, which eventually helped the managers see what the root problem was. Then they flat out told them: No data, no forecast. Finally, they offered how they could help in this case.
She who Asks, Controls the Conversation
Speaking of questions, I’m not sure how well known this is in the corporate world, outside of sales. The person who asks the questions controls the conversation. The second benefit of asking questions is that it’s more engaging to your audience. It forces them to pay attention to you, when they know you’re asking them questions, expecting them to answer. The third benefit is that you actually uncover valuable information when you ask questions. If your presentation consists of merely telling, you’re very much assuming that you fully understand the perspective of your audience. While that might be true in some cases, you’d be surprised what information you can discover when you actually converse with your audience in a dialogue asking questions. The fourth benefit, (I can’t believe all these benefits are just popping up in my mind) is that you demonstrate that you are interested in your audience, thereby further establishing rapport. When you’re prepping for your presentation, it might do you well to convert at least 30% of your material to questions. You can still get your point across, but by involving questions, you’re effectively amping up your presentation.
Not all Questions are Good Questions
There is no such thing as a dumb question. No.. maybe not. But there are questions that sure as hell make you look like an idiot. Believe if or not, there is a rhyme and reason to asking questions. Of course, you want to ask questions to further your understanding of your audience’s perspective. But questions asked for the sake of asking, or reiterating something, or super obvious questions just make you look ridiculous. Take heed in asking appropriate questions. Tessa Stowe, a sales technique consultant wrote an insightful article on this on sideroad.com:
- Ask questions that get to the root of the issue, or investigate the area of concern
- Ask questions to direct and control the flow of the conversation.
- Ask questions to address objections that will probably come up later on.
She goes on to talk about using a three-part framework to set up your questions.
- Ask questions to uncover problems (that you can solve).
- Ask questions to get them to explain to you the impact/effect of the problem.
- Ask questions so they can explain the benefit of solving the problem
Doesn’t it? Don’t you? Do you Agree?
This one, I know you have come across, haven’t you? I guarantee this one has been used on you countless times. It’s called the ‘Tie-Down.’ Whenever you feel the need to reinforce agreement with your point, you end your sentence with a little phrase that gets your audience nodding like how Pavlov’s dogs salivate. Mike Brooks compiled an awesome list of these babies on salesgravy.com. Here they are:
- “Does that make sense?”
- “Do you agree with that?”
- “And that’s a nice feature, isn’t it?”
- “I’m sure you can see how that would work for you, right?”
- “That’s powerful, isn’t it?”
- “Do we have an agreement?”
- “You feel that way too, don’t you?”
- “Does this help?”
- “Can we get this started for you?”
- “Wouldn’t you?”
- “And who wouldn’t want that?”
- “Isn’t that right?”
- “Are you with me?”
- “You’d have to agree with that, wouldn’t you?”
- “Make sense?”
- “Do you see what I mean?”
- “That’s what you want to hear, isn’t it?”
- “You’re with me on this, right?”
- “I can’t think of a better way, can you?”
- “Good solution, right?”
- “Sound reasonable?”
- “Got it?”
- “You would, wouldn’t you?”
Consider yourself warned, however. Do NOT go overboard with these. Use one, maybe two.. at the most three in your entire presentation. Using these too often starts to annoy your audience, and it will turn them off from what you are trying to convey.
He who Speaks First Caves
So you’re having a grand old time zipping through your presentation. Now, it’s time to make the ask. You ask for the decision. You ask, and you shut up. One of the golden rules of closing the deal is that the first person who speaks caves. You ask; you clam up. Let them be the first to say something. Nothing’s 100%, but chances are, if you were to pipe up and offer more information to your audience, you’ve lost the deal. One of rookiest mistakes that people make is talking too much. You’ve made your case. Stop selling. Make the ask. Shut up. Following this formula will likely close the meeting in your favor.
Delivering a presentation, a lecture, even hosting a meeting, believe it or not, involve some sort of sales techniques. Most people in the corporate world have no clue, absolutely no clue how this stuff goes down. Having these in your arsenal makes you invincible in the boardroom, negotiating with your kids, asking your girlfriend to marry you… the list goes on and on. Have fun with these!
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