Become A Master Of Persuasion

When I first started selling it was a complete disaster.  I thought if I just got enough people to like me they would buy my products and services.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

I actually learned how to sell from a master salesperson named Mark.  Mark was simply able to move people beyond where they originally thought they could go.

Mark and I were making blitz calls (that’s how we did it back in the day).  The funny thing today is that you back then you could actually get in to see people and have a conversation with them today.  Even with all this technology we seem to have less time than we did 30 years ago.  Go figure that one out!

Anyway, Mark and I called on this business and the Owner came out and immediately said he did not have time to talk.  He stated that he appreciated us coming by, but we caught him at the wrong time.

Mark asked him a question about what was keeping him so busy and the man went on to talk for about four or five minutes about what he had to do.  Mark asked him another question about that was related to what he wanted to accomplish.  Our conversation with this guy who originally had no time to talk lasted for thirty minutes.

He invited us back and ultimately became a customer.  What would have happened if Mark had simply said: “Ok, we’ll come back later”?

I asked Mark how did he take a guy who wanted no part of use and move him to wanting to have a conversation with us.  He told me about persuasion and how people say things initially because they are programmed to say them.  He went on to say that what people say is often not what they mean.

The ability to persuade people is a key skill for sales people.  If you want to win the sales game you have to be able to create value, differentiate yourself from the competition, and gain agreement.  But what facilitates you being successful in the sales process is your ability to persuade.

One of the best courses on persuasion was put together by a guy named Kevin Hogan.  He is a master a persuasion and teaching persuasion.  If you want to check out his stuff go to kevinhogan.winningthesalesgame.com.

To start practicing and developing your skill of persuasion, begin to notice what words and actions that cause people to connect with you.  If you observe yourself you will see when conversations and attitudes shift in a positive way towards your message.

When you take notes of those instances, use them over and over again until you have mastered them.

Mastering persuasion in sales in not like a con game.  You are helping your prospects get what they need to meet their objectives.  And, because you helped them you benefit too.

Happy Selling

Good Conversation Stimulates Like Black Coffee

When was the last time you were really engaged in a conversation that was stimulating?  One thing is for sure; you were engaged in the conversation because the conversation was about something you were interested in.

Let’s face it there is nothing more boring than to be talking about something you feel is a waste of time.  With that in mind, how do you think your prospects feel when you are talking about something that is not of interest to them?

Conversations with prospects have to be crafted, planned, and well thought out to be stimulating.  One of the biggest challenges is to match the right conversation with the right person.

What I mean by that is a conversation with a CEO is going to be different than a conversation with a CFO, which is different than a conversation with a manager.  The reason these conversations are different is because the needs and interests of these people are different.

A one size fits all conversation about the value you bring to prospective clients will not work.   If you don’t tailor your conversation based on the needs and concerns (interests) of the person you are talking to, you won’t get very far.

For example, according to The Conference Board CEO Challenge 2010 Survey, the number one challenge CEOs say they are facing is excellence in execution followed closely by consistent execution of strategy by top management.  If you tailor your conversations to center around these points, you will be an instant hit.

It’s pretty easy to do.  You just simply state how your product or service will help with excellence in execution.   If you provide employee benefits you could discuss how execution is vital and what you and your firm are doing to address that.

Similarly, a recent study by IBM of over 1,900 CFOs and other senior financial executives revealed the top three priorities for CFOs are: reducing the cost base, making faster, more accurate decisions and providing more transparency to external stakeholders.

When you put yourself in the other person’s world and talk about things that are of interest to them you will increase receptivity to your message.  Your conversations will be engaging and you will develop relatedness at all levels in the prospect organization.

The best way to have stimulating conversations is to plan.  If you know you are going to be meeting with the CEO develop a few conversation topics of interest.  If you are going to a networking event and CFOs will be there, plan your conversations.

Taking a little time to plan and construct a conversation that is meaningful for your audience can pay huge dividends in the long run.  Always make your conversation stimulating.

Happy Selling

How To Execute The Discovery Phase of The Sales Process Effectively Part II

In Part I of How To Execute The Discovery Phase Of The Sales Process, I talked about the importance of asking questions, the type of questions to use, and when to use them.  Now I’m going to go a little deeper into some specific questions you need to ask in the discovery phase.

The whole point of using a sales process is to get the business.  All of the pieces of the sales process have a purpose and fit together.  If you leave out or skip a part of the sales process you dramatically decrease your chances of closing the deal.

For example, a lot of sales people want to know the best way to close a sale.  The truth is: closing a sale should be a natural outcome of the sales process.  However, everything else has to be done correctly before the closing phase of the sales process.

The discovery phase allows you to get the information you need to address the needs and concerns of your prospect.  Then you can prepare a customized solution for your prospect that will differentiate you from the competition.  This increases your probability of getting the business.

In the discovery phase you are gathering as much information as you can about your prospect.  The more you know the better position you are in.  You don’t want to just get random information; you want to know their pain and challenges.  You want to know things that can give you insight into how they will choose which way to go.

There are four main questions you want to ask as part of your discovery process.  These are not the only questions you need to ask, but they are necessary questions for each sales campaign.

The Four Questions are:

1. What criteria will you use to make your decision?

The answer to this question allows you to address the issues that are important to them when you make your proposal.  You will want to customize your proposal to include your prospects decision making criteria.

2. What is your time frame for having a solution in place?

Understanding the time frame before presenting your proposal will almost always eliminate the stall objection.  Also, if the time frame for implementation is too far out you may want to wait before proceeding with the sales process.

3. Who will be involved in the decision making process?

You have to know all of the people that will be involved in the process. You want to make sure you address each of the needs of everyone that will play a role in the decision.

4. What is your budget?

Understanding your prospect’s budget allows you to determine the proper solution.  In some cases it tells you even if you have a valid prospect.  You have to build rapport, creditability, and trust to get the answer to this question.

As I mentioned, the four questions are just a part of the many questions you will ask during the discovery phase.  Remember that the discovery phase is where you should be investing the majority of your time in the sales process.  If you do great job of discovery, your prospect will know that you understand what they need.   You will have more confidence in your solution because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the best solution.

Happy Selling