52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #31 – Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith

Do you have a story? Is it well thought out and ready to go? Is it practiced, polished and perfected? Have you wondered what happens at a Toastmasters group? Lead with a StoryNever heard of Toastmasters, but you’d like to be able to captivate a crowd? This is the book for you.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #31 – Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith

 

I’m not an outgoing person yet, I frequently am called on to speak in front of groups. I need to give presentations, speeches, motivational messages, heartwarming calls to action and convey very straightforward information without putting the audience to sleep. I’m also in sales and I’m a leader. This means I take groups out to award dinners, outings and work functions like mixers. I also talk to customers, both internal and external and I have to often find a way to make the mundane interesting, or to convey complicated financial information over the phone in a way that makes sense and spurs action. I have learned to do this in part because of the principals in this book, plus I just winged it.

On a grander scale, your story or your companies story can be crafted in a way that can be told in one of these encounters. Your Story is the reason you are in business, it’s what brought you, your business or company into being and it’s what made you, You. There is a formula to crafting a story and keeping attention. I wish I had read this book sooner, I had to use trial and error over the years and even then this book probably doubled my Story I.Q. and made me that much better. You can use the ideas, methods, and suggestions in this book to increase sales, increase your employee buy-in, boost morale and raise your visibility in all social settings. Good story tellers are remembered and identified with. Great opportunity often arrives from people we are barely acquainted with, but through the power of a story a connection was made and you became memorable.

This all boils down to communication. I’ve said before that I now hire communication students and look for strong communication skills from employees and colleagues. How a message is percieved is how you are percieved. Can you craft a message that is received by a large audience and in a way that motives, inspires or impacts them all? Can you also communicate in a 1:1 setting or a small group and get the same response? It’s a tall order, but those that can deliver are coveted.

 

The New 4 Letter Word in Sales = DEAL

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of noise around the word “Deal”. I have no idea why some sales experts are designating this word as bad-dealsomething to avoid, but i whole heartily disagree. I am happy to look someone in the eyes and ask them if we have a Deal. I’m happy to let someone know that this is a great Deal. As long as I am genuine and I really believe that I’ve put together a great Deal then I’m 100% good with this word.

The problem arises because some sales reps will talk about getting or giving “Deals” that aren’t really a good value. The customer can feel when something doesn’t feel right and that “Deal” suddenly turns into a Lemon. Customer’s still want a Deal, but the Deal has to mean Value. Every customer I’ve ever worked with wants to feel like they got the better end of the bargain. They want to feel like they negotiated and received a better Value because of their interaction and ability. The passive people believe they will get a good Deal because they are good people or because they are easier to work with. The friendly, outgoing people believe that only friends give friends the good Deals, so they want to make friends with you. The super busy executives want to get a great Deal from you because they are quick and to the point and save you time. My friends with the excel spread sheets that analyze the numbers from every aspect want to believe that their acute attention to the numbers has garnered them some magical leverage that enables them to get a better Deal.

Everyone wants a Deal, they just don’t want to feel slimy about it. They don’t want to be told that it’s a Deal, they want to judge it to be a good Value themselves. Go ahead and use the word, just back it up with Value, however the customer defines that Value. Some people value expediency, other want you to take your time. Some customers want you to be very personable, others want you to respect their privacy. The word isn’t the problem, it’s that sometimes the Deal isn’t really a Value. It’s up to sales people to find out what the customer finds valuable and then to tailor the program, purchase or service in the best way possible. Let’s put away the pitch forks and put the halo over Deal.

10 Commandments of SalesFu – How to be a #Sales Ninja

Do you have all the information and knowledge about your product but still can’t close the deal? Do you have a fear of selling because you aren’t sure what to do? Do you not want to be “That Guy” or “That Girl” that’s always trying to sell and is annoying as heck? Are you constantly being told “No”, or worse yet, “Maybe”? If you or anyone you know needs to grow into a better salesperson share, like, re-post or whatever you need to do to get this info into their hands. Kicktras

You MUST learn the 10 Commandments of SalesFu.

You need to be a Sales Ninja in today’s world to not only compete, but to dominate.

I’ll go into detail on each. Here they are-

The Sales Ninja

10 Commandments of SalesFu

  1. Be Agreeable
  2. Power of One   (More, Step, Goal)
  3. P.O.P – Power of Please
  4. Don’t Bite the Hand
  5. Be Honest
  6. Over Communicate
  7. No Excuses
  8. Put it in Writing
  9. Treat Others the Way THEY Want to be Treated.
  10. Ask for the Business

 

#1 Always Agree.  Just do it. Record your conversations and see how often you disagree with a customer. SalesFu is all about taking that negative energy and redirecting to service a positive purpose, like closing the deal. If the customer throws you a verbal right hook, you don’t take a verbal swing back and start an argument. You simply step out of the way or duck, then give a gentle nudge to the customer and use their own momentum to keep them moving in the direction they wanted. Never argue with a customer, in a worse case scenario at least agree to disagree.

#2 Power of One. One More, One Step, One Goal. I’m a huge fan of the Number One. I want to be #1. The Number One also means Unity. It means all forces moving in the same direction. People ask how I’m doing all the time. I always tell them, “I’m doing great! I’m saving the world 1 Sale at a time.” and I believe it. People who are extraordinary did very ordinary things, they just did them more often and in a specific order under circumstances when most people would have quit. Make a phone call isn’t hard or extraordinary, but making that phone call after you’ve already made 199 that day takes commitment. After you throw in the towel, always do one more. Define the small steps you need to take in order to achieve a large goal. Focus on the step needed, but never forget about your long term Goal.

#3 P.O.P. – Power of Please. People a little POP in your Sales. People forget to be polite these days, I’m not sure why. Being polite has never killed a deal for me, but I’ve seen plenty of deals crushed because of someone being rude, or being misinterpreted as being rude. Be Self Aware. We don’t about this a lot in Sales, but being Self Aware of how you are viewed and interpreted is crucial to success. It makes absolutely no difference if you meant to say something in jest, but it was taken as a biting comment. I once saw an Old Girlfriend after about 4 years and it was a very hot day. She was wearing an all black outfit and probably wasn’t keen on being seen trudging on a college campus with a heavy backpack in the hot Hawaiian humidity. I’m not sure why, but I told her she looked hot. I meant it, she looked like she needed a cold glass of water or a dip in the ocean. I don’t think she took it that way. On a side note though because of the power of reciprocity she struggled but eventually said a few nice things about me. I was polite and unintentionally said something nice about her and so she was nice and said some nice things back. This goes for sales too, try to anticipate how the words you are saying will be interpreted and always be polite. People want to buy from people they like.

#4 Don’t Bite the Hand. I hate it when I hears sales people complaining about customers. It’s a sign of personal weakness. It’s a sign that you aren’t a true sales professional and a sign that you want to place blame instead of accepting responsibility. I’ve fired salespeople for speaking poorly of the people that pay the bills. Never ever bite the hand that feeds you. Whether or not a customer buys from you is irrelevant, that person may buy the product or service in the future and it’s entirely your fault that you didn’t get the deal. Getting a Win isn’t that difficult. Even if a customer CAN NOT take advantage of your product or service, you are selling hair cuts and you find out the customer is wearing a wig due to Cancer. Can they buy your product? After that customer leaves your store you can complain about why the hell a bald lady was in a hair salon on a busy Saturday, buy you should look inside and find an answer. Why was that customer in your store? Was she looking for a friend? Can she be a referral source? Was she looking to find partners to help support a program to make new wigs and get donated hair? Was she looking for a job? Was she just missing her hair and wanted to see the different styles? There was still a way to leave on good terms and there was a opportunity there that you missed. Success is your fault.

#5 Be Honest. Don’t over promise and under deliver. Even though that customer got on board with you if it’s a bad experience it will hurt your business in the long run. Be Honest with yourself about your product and your service. You have to believe in whatever you do 100% and you can’t do that unless you are authentic and honest.

#6 Over Communicate. People love status updates in today’s world. We all have short attention spans heck, I have a pizza tracker. It tells me when my pizza is in the oven, when it’s being boxed and when it’s on the car for delivery. Thank you Dominoes. Did I need that info? Nope,  for years I’ve waited patiently for the 35 minutes to pass in order to get my pizza and it’s always gotten there. Update you customers more than you think you need to, it breeds confidence and familiarity. If someone doesn’t want that much communication they can delete the email or send you to voicemail. It’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it. Over Communication will save your deals.

#7 No Excuses. When you do something wrong, fess up and make it right. You must take responsibility for every single facet of the experience, nothing is excluded. A 3rd party provider drops the ball and the service is interrupted or late. Is that your fault? What if the 3rd party service was selected by your customer because they had a previous business relationship? Is it still your fault? The short answer is YES. You picked the 3rd party vendor and by affiliating yourself you MUST take responsibility for their actions, get another provider if you need to. Even if the customer chose their own provider, let’s say they wanted their own mechanic to install your product, or you are a mortgage broker and your customer chose their own title agent, it is still your responsibility to make sure that the product is installed or the money is there.

#8 Put it in Writing. My mother once told me to “Trust, but Verify.” and still holds true today. People want to trust what you say, but they get peace of mind when you put it in writing. I also can’t tell you how often something got lost in translation or a trick of the brain and what was agreed to meant something completely different to each party. I once agreed to start a project within 5 days, the customer thought I’d be done in 5 days. Put it in writing and save yourself the trouble. You have testimonials or a great rating in some magazine? Get it in writing and send it to your customer, have it framed and put on the wall. Seeing it in black and white means something completely different than talking about it to most people.

#9 Treat Others the Way THEY Want to be Treated.   I take a lot of heat for this from some sales professionals. I’m a huge advocate of communication and being self aware of how that communication is interpreted. I think that the majority of Sales Skills come from proper communication skills. I’m talking about how your message is perceived. I encourage you to mirror your clients, slow down your pace or change the vocabulary you use to talk about a feature. A business man may want to talk about the ROI of a product while the lay person might just need you to say that the product pays for itself. I want to be guided through the process and I pay extra for convenience, that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the buyer who does all their own research and wants me to be hands off. I sell and communicate in a way that is comfortable for our buyer, and doesn’t impact the authenticity or the facts about my product or service. It just makes it more palatable.

#10 Ask for the Business.  Come on, you’ve gone through all the trouble already to get someone interested. Too often sales people just keep selling until the customer says something like, “So what do we do next?” until they close. They consider that a buying sign and so they will talk about the contract and then put the contract on the table eventually. That isn’t selling though. That’s like asking a girl out after she says that if you ask her she will say yes. It’s not the same thing. You have to be willing to put the customer in a position to tell you No. You want to get a Yes or a No so you can move on to the next prospect and make a living for yourself. You have invested the energy to learn your craft and get the customer to agree with you and buy into who you are. Use all that sales capital that you’ve been building up, and Ask for the Business in a very direct and clear cut manner. “Listen Friend, we could probably spend a few more hours swapping stories and me telling you how great our product is, but you probably want to find out for yourself and I’d like to have a reason to come out and visit more often. Let’s place an order, (seal the deal, lock in the terms, put down a credit card, sign the contract), so that you can see first hand what I’ve been talking about. Are we in Business?”

 

There you go. Use these to be great. If you or anyone you know needs to grow into a better salesperson share, like, re-post or whatever you need to do to get this info into their hands.  www.salesfumaster.com    @salesfumaster

 

 

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 15 – Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff

Formula’s and systems work. The biggest secret in the world is that they all work, just to varying degrees based on your effort. The simple fact of the matter is that EffoPitchAnythingrt X Skill brings Success. The reason the 10x system works is because most people just apply 10x the effort and by massive repetition also become more efficient and up their skill level. It takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to become a true master of just about any skill. So if you work harder you’ll reach that milestone faster. The secret to this book however is the simple sales skill hack. Use this method and your SKILL will rise dramatically and quickly.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 15 – Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff

 

There are a ton of great sales nuggets in this book, (particularly about sales psychology which is a favorite topic of mine), but the backbone of the book revolves around Oren’s simple 6 step method which he calls STRONG.

Setting the Frame
Telling the Story
Revealing the Intrigue
Offering the Prize
Nailing the Hookpoint
Getting a Decision

He dives into each category with enough detail to convey the meaning with ample example’s and I’m sure he could have written more about each step. It’s the attention to detail that I’ve found is the hallmark of great success in any category. There are levels of detail, and then there LEVELS OF DETAIL and Oren has certainly raised the bar. The interesting thing is that the book is a great balance, it dives in deep but then pulls you back before you get bogged down in the minutia.

If you can imagine yourself using the STRONG system in your own line of work you’ll get the most use out of this book. You’ve got to take this information and apply it right away, even if it’s not quite perfect I’d run with it. I’d take a full blown sincere failure over a halfhearted success story any day of the week. Use this system sincerely and with full commitment and you’ll win the deal more often than not.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 10 – The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP! by Duane Lakin

The world of NLP is a little hazy. I’ve met people who swear by it, and others who write it off as wishful thinking. I believe that there is somethSellwithNLPing to the NLP method, although I’m not sold on the mass appeal and train-ability of this. It’s a tough topic to teach in a book. Let’s take a quick dive into this.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 10 – The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP! by Duane Lakin

I was looking to read up on NLP in a professional setting. I had been given the recommendation to read “The Game”  by Neil Strauss which is a book about a pickup artist but his pick up scheme is dominated by the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I can best describe it as part subliminal messaging, part hypnosis and part mentalism. I could see the parallels between really selling yourself in the dating scene to selling yourself and your products/services in a business setting, but I wanted to find a book that really made it simple and had practical demonstrations. I downloaded the audio version of this book after a quick online search of what was available.

I’ve read a lot of self-help and motivational books as well as a lot of sales skills and leadership books, I’m not 100% sure where this book should be categorized. It has some great sales skills advice that can be implemented in person with a lot of practice and some advice about phone sales and scripts. I can see the validity in the sales scripts right away. I’m familiar with word tracks, power words and mirroring your client to make them feel more at ease. NLP can be used to encourage a particular response, in this case a YES response to whatever we are selling.

Some ethics come into play here though, at what point do we cross the line where we are “tricking” a customer into becoming a buyer? Does the NLP speech pattern make someone do what they otherwise wouldn’t want to do? Will there be massive buyer’s remorse a few days after every sale? Is this sales skill, or is this manipulation? I describe Sales as having the ability to persuade and influence a purchase decision, and I think using the right words in conversation has a role to play in that.

I believe that words have power. I believe that a better phone sales script or a better presentation for any pitch will lead to better results. Furthermore, I believe that if you take those same exact words and change your pace and tone to match the situation your conversion numbers will improve dynamically. I believe your body language can influence how likable you are. I also believe that if you are a slime-ball and purposely sell Widgets that are over priced to people that don’t need them you probably shouldn’t learn these skills. I prefer my snail-oil salesmen to rely on old school tactics, but this is America and capitalism requires supply and demand. There are thousands of products available that are destructive to your home, life or the environment and people still buy them.  I’ve seen an Act by Darren Brown, (if you don’t know who this is go do your google search now http://derrenbrown.co.uk/the-core/ ),  and he’s also a mixture of persuasion and influence using some of these appear to be NLP techniques or very similar. He’s upfront about what he’s doing and it still works! He’s entertaining and I’d hate to see him as a salesman. I don’t think that NLP is a bad business practice but it can be used for evil instead of good. Don’t cross that line.

If you research NLP and decide to try some techniques, do it for the right reason. Do it because your client wants to make the right decision but is a little hesitant to do so for fear of making the wrong decision. Use NLP so that you get more thank you cards and verbal gratuities. Use NLP in a scenario where customers are appreciative that you helped them to make a great decision. Tell them what you are doing, tell them that you are going to help them make the right decision. That’s a good thing, Right?

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 4 – Selling to anyone over the phone – Renee P. Walkup

This one is a bit of a cheat because I read the original edition almost 10 years ago and didn’t even realize that there was now an updated 2nd edition. I must say that the team improved and updated the content for us and it makes a SellingToAnyonedifference. I’m in a Call Center environment and on a daily basis I’m trying to adapt former face to face sales people into over the phone professionals. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks but this book makes a difference and helps the transition without a doubt.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 4Selling to anyone over the phone – Renee P. Walkup

 

 

This book is money. Many people in the world sell face to face.I get it, those professionals learned a skill and can read a customer’s body language to determine what the best course of action is. Imagine if you are selling cars though, and you were suddenly blind. Imagine if you were suddenly limited to only the pictures you could see in your mind. Would you still be able to sell to anyone?

I’ve heard stories of people going blind or deaf and being able to enhance their other senses to compensate. The same thing goes for sales skills. Selling over the phone is considered a disadvantage to most, but this book will help you turn it into an advantage. “Selling to Anyone over the Phone” is worth the price over and over again. If you work in a world where you close deals over the phone you need this book yesterday. I’m not a natural sales person, I’m not an extrovert and I can’t stand touching people and I certainly don’t want to look at you for half an hour. I can talk on the phone though.

I can create an image and I can paint a picture with words now. I can determine if the words you say are genuine and I can tell what motivates you to buy. I can hear pitch, tone, pace and still have time to listen to the actual words you are saying, which say so much more between the lines. I do a large part of what I do because of this book. I used to sell face to face which was a total disaster, but the original version of this book helped me close 1000’s of deals over the phone and this 2nd Edition is even better.

It takes time to implement the ideas in the book and it takes lots of practice. You’ll need to record your calls and take the time to really focus on your speech patterns but it can be done. You’ll be able to mirror your clients in a way that will allow you to get your true meaning across. I hear conversations every day where Party A says something with a particular meaning, but Party B interprets the meaning of the exact same words in a completely different way. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever said, ” No, I didn’t mean it that way.” The words you said were heard in the exact way that you said them, but the meaning taken from those words was completely different from what you intended. Does the intention of the word matter or does the interpretation? Even when there is clarification, the emotional residue from the 1st false interpretation is still there. If you put the practices of this book to good use you will limit the number of false interpretations, your meaning will be clear.

I’m a fan of this book. I’ve never read anything else by Renee Walkup or Sandra McKee, I’ve never even read their bios. I imagine in my minds eye that one is in sales and the other is in psychology because that is what the book feels like. It feels like smarter sales skills. If feels like an elegant dance when most sales people just trudge through the dance hall. After you read this book you’ll have a smirk on your face because you will know things that will make you seem like a super sales hero. Try it. I recommend it.

4.5 Steps to know- When to ask for the Business.

Last week I was asked by an up and coming salesperson, “So, when would I know what Closing technique to use?”.  I dug a little deeper on this question and he wasn’t really wondering which close to use and how, he was really asking a much more fundamental question- “When do I Close?”.103764377_400x400_pad

 “The Buying Sign Close”

It seems that many of us are info/benefit dumping until we hear this line from the customer- “OK, so what do we do next?” and then we get the credit card or signed purchase agreement. Now lets be honest, the products or services we are presenting aren’t exactly new right? You probably have some competitor though it pains you to admit it and that competitor at least has a product or service in your same category. The customer isn’t giving you that massive buying sign because you didn’t ask them to. In answer to the salesperson’s question above I said, “I close when the conversation gets to the natural end. I prep customers and let them know that if I find a (product or service) that fits their needs I’ll ask for their business. In addition I also close whenever I hear the 3rd buying sign”. I realized we hadn’t covered the Buying Sign close or talked about when identifying when you’ve EARNED the right to close, so read below and Close more deals!

 

STEP #1 Listen and Identify Buying Signs. Buying Signs to me are any type of questions from a customer, even objections are buying signs to me. If someone is asking me questions about my product/service it usually means that they intend to BUY, even if it’s not from me. IF the customer didn’t want to do anything they wouldn’t prolong the conversation with questions. They’d try to get off the phone, elevator or whatever meeting I pinned them down to as quickly as possible, sometimes they don’t want to be rude but they still just want to get out of the room. Typical Buying Signs- So do you guys service your own product? Do you use local providers? How long have you been doing this? Can I fax you documents or do I need to mail them? How can I do business with a company or person I’ve never done business with before?

 

STEP #2 – Track the Buying Signs. I usually keep an internal count of the buying signs I’ve heard and depending on how strong they are I typically jump straight to this close after the 3rd buying sign. If the customer asks 3 serious questions about the service or product it’s time to ask for the business.

 

STEP #3 – Close. “I think it’s obvious we are going to do something here for you here today. While we are figuring out what fits your needs let’s agree to something. I’ve got to jump through a few hoops to get you the best (product or service), we’ve got to ask some Formality Questions, Put a Credit Card (or billing dept contact) on file and then confirm some more of your information while we tailor this order for you. What’s the card number or billing address? (Bridge Close works well here the key is the first 20 words which transitions to a close of choice).

 

STEP #4 Finalize App Details.  After I get the deposit I verify a few items like contact info and fill out any other details I may have missed earlier. THEN we go back to the structure of the product or service and I typically make a STRONG recommendation.  “So Mr Customer, no matter what we do today we are going to get something better than your current situation. In my professional opinion I recommend the XYZ for you, it has the better features, more for your time, money, ROI or offers peace of mind. I think that’s what you were looking for right?” Or “I’ve done enough files of this nature to be considered an expert here so I’m confident that we should move forward. I would like to wait to determine the exact amount of service you need until we have the appraised the situation. We typically start with  ABC  but let’s be conservative and say we’ll start with X amount of service. Can we start with this amount of service and then adjust it up or down after the test period?”

When I work a Buying Sign Close I frame the initial trial as a joint production with lots of feedback from the customer. The least amount of  service and the possible need for much for allows us to adjust things, typically for the better. Since we are happy with the worst case scenario that means we’ll be giving good news through the process and you’ve started the buying relationship.

 

STEP #4.5 ** BONUS TIP. The Strong Recommendation. I first learned this technique many years ago while working at a restaurant in Hawaii. Tourists would come in and they’d often ask about what Wine to order with a particular food. I was 21 and really had no palate or experience with wine but I asked a lot of questions of the bartender and people more familiar than I was. I made friends with a Sommelier and asked him how he handles this question. He said he makes a recommendation, backs it up with a few good reasons and sticks with it like it was the obvious choice. Pretty soon I was expertly recommending the Pacific Rim Riesling because the Sweet Flavor offset the Spicy Asian Fusion, the body was light and didn’t weigh down the experience and the acid cleansed the palate for the next bite of flavor. I soon found that no matter what I recommended, as long as I had a few good reasons for making the recommendation my customers went with my recommendation 90% of the time. The point here is that when we make a strong recommendation and back it up with a few good reasons our customers will listen to us, 90% of the time. Sometimes this is called the Law of Authority in Psychology circles, it’s scientifically proven to work!

 

Happy Selling and if you have any questions about this feel free to reach out to me!

SALES MO

Sales Momentum, what I call the SALES MO, is just like physical momentum.  It’s easier to keep it going than it is to start frKicktrasom scratch.  When I was 17 years old I went away to college, my family wasn’t particularly well off but I had a scholarship and a part time job.  My father bought me an old 1984 Chevy Luv pickup truck and that little truck got me back and forth to more than a few places.  I was not particularly mechanically inclined though and had no idea how to fix it when things went wrong.  For the better part of a year the battery was dead and I just dealt with it.  The truck was a manual stick shift, so I would just “POP” the clutch to get the motor running.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of “Popping” the clutch, it basically entails you getting the vehicle moving fast enough to slam the vehicle into 2nd gear and the engine would magically start running.  The truck made a few noises when it ran, (we named the truck Gabby because she talked a lot), but it basically got my friends and I where we needed to go.  I learned to park the truck on a hill backed into a spot.  This way when it was time to go I’d just put it in neutral, release the parking break and wait until I had some speed before putting it into gear to start her up.  More than a few times though I’d let a friend borrow Gabby and this friend would find a much “better” spot right in front of our building and would manage to parallel park Gabby.

Now I ask you, have you ever tried to move a truck that won’t start-up out of a parallel parking spot?  Can you imagine having to push a truck 6 inches forward, stop it completely then crank the wheel and push it 6 inches backwards?  Not only is it hard to push a truck when the wheels are cranked, but it’s almost as hard to stop it once it’s going!  In those days bumpers were still for bumping,  at least that’s what I told myself and the body builder guy who drove that little white Geo Storm.

My point is this- Don’t parallel park your prospects.  If you block them in with nowhere to go it’s awfully hard to get your Sales Mo moving again and there is bound to be a few bumps and scratches along the way.  Harness the Sales Mo and you won’t have to worry about stalling out or getting run over.  Always say YES before you say NO.  Keep the conversation positive. No matter what a customer says, objects to or implies just start the next sentence with something spectacular like “GREAT!”, “PERFECT!”, “I LIKE IT!”, “EXCELLENT!” and keep the conversation moving forward.  If you try to correct the customer’s preconceived notions or convince them that their request is wrong you’ll be setting your self up for disaster.  Sales isn’t about getting into a verbal boxing match and seeing who the winner is, it’s not a debate or a competition. You don’t get paid to win the argument or to be “right”. You get paid to close deals, whatever you are selling needs to get sold. You do that by keeping the forward momentum, if a customer wants a blue suit give him a blue suit. Keep the SALES MO going!

Defusing vs Overcoming Objections

Defusing vs Overcoming Objections

Defuse the Objection

Defuse the Objection

“Closing” sometimes has a negative connotation, primarily because no one likes to be “Sold” except for sales people. The rest of us don’t want to be “Sold” something, we just want to “Buy” a product or service worth having. Sales professionals who consistently find themselves having to use Hard Sell techniques and aggressive closing tactics often have to do so because they have missed the subtle art of building a relationship and actually finding out what would be the best option for this customer. Customers only say “No” when we haven’t given them enough reasons to say “Yes.”  Luckily, it’s actually fairly easy to avoid objections when it comes time to ask for the business. I’ve heard this general practice called Objection Mining, Objection Avoidance, I like Objection Defusing, but mostly it’s just called Good Service and actually getting to know someone. It’s called Being Helpful and here is how you do it-

 

#1 Accept Responsibility

  • Why do good sales people always appear to have the lay down deals? – Hint, It’s probably because they are good and make it look easy!!
  • Great sales people defuse the situation, everyone else loses control and places blame. – In 20 years of sales I’ve heard all the excuses. The product is bad, the price is off, the leads are horrible, the time shift or region is terrible, my assistant ate my homework, by dog booked the appointments after lunch, you name it. What I’ve never heard is a Salesperson who said, “You know what, that customer wants to wait and it’s 100% my fault.”  I get it, it’s a defense mechanism, as people we want to deflect failure and pretend that it’s outside of our control. It’s easier that way. No one said Sales was an easy profession though, it’s like living off the land, we only eat what we kill. Accept that you and your family need and rely on you to make a good living and that you alone are in control of your success.
  • I read a book about 5 years ago that really nailed this reality and opened my eyes – Larry Winget’s “Success is Your Own Damn Fault” , check it out.

#2 Setup for Success

  • Ask Questions to uncover the objections before they happen. – Ask about the decision making process, ask about how they have made decisions in the past, ask what criteria is important, ask why, ask, ask ask and uncover the “Why”. There is an Art to asking questions, the first answer to a “Sales” type question is always the social nicety or what they think they should say, something like “I’m fine, just looking. I don’t need any help.” The second question is typically answered with what they think they should be shopping for, something about a budget, rate, cost, or some feature. The problem is that now we’ve asked a couple of questions and have absolutely no idea what this customer wants or needs, the third question typically needs to find out why these features would help. The best way to understand the “Why” is to check out the Golden Circle Ted Talk by Simon Sinek. Just search for it, it’s a great way to spend 20 minutes.
  • Listen More – Ask your questions and then shut up. The problem with sales people is that we love the sound of our voice. Who wouldn’t? We have great things to say and we are very persuasive right? The problem is that we aren’t comfortable with silence and we tend to dominate the conversations instead of letting our customers get comfortable in the conversation. Listen twice as much as talking and you customers will  like you twice as much as long as you are asking the right questions.
  • Non-Business Relationships – NBR – CLICK with your Customers, use personality types to bond, read about How to Win Friends and Influence People, study social graces. I don’t know a successful sales person that isn’t likable, but I do know a couple of arrogant sales people who are diligent $30,000aires. You know the type, the sales guy or gal that has no business driving that car or wearing that watch. I’m all for looking the part and those things represent success for many in our business, but if you aren’t humble and likable, it will always be a show. Those guys lease the car, you want to own it free and clear.
  • Uncover Need – Throughout your conversation keep notes of what the “Need” is. This person doesn’t need to save money, this person needs you to change their life in some way. How can you help?
  • Gather up Benefits – As you are gathering up the information you’ll have an idea of what the objections will be to making a purchase now. Make note and stack up reasons why they should move forward anyway. Those reasons are called Benefits.

#3 Defuse the objection

  • Don’t be caught off guard. – If you get surprised with an objection you failed in the first part of the call.
  • Anticipate the Objection and Frame your Benefit statements to address it. – If you anticipate a Cost Objection heavily outline the recoup cost and the cost of doing nothing if that’s applicable. Talk about the savings. Talk about the long term savings, talk about the value of time.
  • Use “The Agreement” – Confirm that your solution addressed the concern in question. “That solves the problem of paying for the program right?”
  • Do this properly and you wont have to overcome objections, the customer will overcome the objections themselves and choose to move forward.

 

2 BONUS TIPS –

 

                BONUS TIP #1  – Defusing and Uncovering Objections is NOT the same thing as CREATING Objections. If you suspect that you are going to get a Spousal Objection, don’t say “Hey, so earlier in our conversation you mentioned your spouse wasn’t here to help with the decision, maybe you should go home and talk to them and come back next week. I wouldn’t want to make a decision  like this without my spouse”. Defusing the Objection is about addressing this concern so that the customer CAN move forward today. Remind the customer that there is a guarantee or that they would be accomplishing exactly what their spouse asked them to.

BONUS TIP #2 – We still overcome objections.  Don’t kid yourself, even if we do a good job of addressing the issues and framing the benefits, sometimes we still need to ask for the business multiple times. Don’t use this technique as a way to opt out of asking for the business a couple of times if that’s the right thing to do. Sometimes we have to make it so uncomfortable for a customer to say NO, that they say YES. Often those customers are the ones that call me back and thank me for forcing them to make a decision, they were just too scared for their own good.

 

What is SalesFu? – Capturing the Energy

vintage morse telegraph key with white background

Practice the MORSE Code of Success

What is SalesFu?

Sales Fu = The Art of Identifying & Capturing Customer Energy and using it to Persuade & Influence a purchase decision.

We’ve found that there are different personality types and we have an idea of how those personality types impact our communication. Now what? Now we talk about Capturing Customer Energy via Sales Momentum, Control and the MORSE Code to success.

 

SALES MOMENTUM

All too often I hear salespeople getting ready to do “Battle”, getting set to “Take another one down” or getting into a “Verbal Jousting Match”. All of these terms create the image of an adversarial approach to sales. We are one side of the war, and the customer is on the other. Is this how we really see our jobs and is this a healthy approach? I believe that at it’s highest level, Great Salesmanship is the same as Great Customer Service. We ask our customers to move forward because we strongly believe that it’s the right thing to do, we will meet and exceed their goals and have the right product at the right time for the right price. Instead of thinking of this transaction as a boxing match in which we beat our opponent into submission, let’s think of this as a chance to work together and move in the same direction. Some quick tips to make this a habit and make your sales calls continually move closer to the point of sale.

#1  DISARM – Never tell the customer that they are wrong or become confrontational. Instead, when a customer has a false assumption or becomes confrontational themselves, disarm them with moving phrases – “Great, I believe I can clarify this point so that we can move forward”, “Ah, I see the misunderstanding. I think that moving forward you will be happy to learn that…”, “Yes, we should be able to overcome this obstacle by,,,”. These phrases start with a positive sounding word, (Great, Yes, Ah) and then create a vision of motion actually moving forward.

#2  IDENTIFY THE DIRECTION – Based on the personality type already observed use language that will connect with the customer. If the customer has just given us an objection take the objection and turn it into a buying sign. If the customer objects to the Cost of your product/service then confirm their intent to buy once this issue is cleared. “Great, I’m glad you are giving this some thought before jumping ahead (or diving in) because that means you are serious about this transaction. So if I’m understanding this correctly, I think we just need to make sure we have enough value here before moving forward right?

#3  RE-CLOSE – We’ve successfully transitioned an objection back into a buying sign and the customer is still focused on moving forward somehow instead of how to get you out of the office or off the phone. We’ve kept the momentum of the call moving forward and can now ask for the business. Perhaps through this process we’ve realized that the goals we had outlined for the customer were wrong, or that product will need to be modified somehow. Instead of stalling the process we’ve shifted gears on the fly with feedback from the customer and kept the flow of the call moving towards a sale. Once we have redetermined the goals it’s time to Re-Close. Mention the customers buying sign and guide them to the point where they are comfortable saying Yes. “So I know that Cost is a major determining factor for you, so you’ll be pleased with this because…(insert benefits), which makes this all worthwhile. It’s safe to say we can get the process started now right?

 

CONTROL FROM THE TOP

Sales Momentum is key, but a measure of control must already be in place to work a conversation in this manner. Control is easier to maintain than you think. Visualize control in a conversation as a Baton that gets passed back and forth through the dialog. Every time a customer asks an unprompted question, gets sidetracked on a long story or tells you they have to go, you have lost control. Start with asking basic SLOT CLOSE questions, THIS or THAT type questions to narrow in on the product or service type needed. Then move on the POSITIVE AFFIRMATION questions, repeat goals back to the customer and ask for approval. “This is what you want, RIGHT?” , “It’s safe to say you need this ISN’T IT?”. “ISN’T IT safe to say we’ve met or exceeded all your goals?” , “Help me understand this, we need to offer you X,Y and Z, CORRECT?”. These phrases all maintain control of the conversation. Last but not least ask open ended questions, this will give the customer the sense of being in control, the more they talk the more they like you and at the same time you’ve still maintained control of the Baton. You gave them direction for this part of the conversation. I’ve even heard the phrase “Now this is the part of the conversation where we talk about…. ” this clarity gives a customer comfort. When a customer knows what their role is in the conversation and what comes next they will be at ease. It’s easier for them to let their guard down when you provide clear direction during the conversation. Give time limits, “This will only take another 10- 15 minutes. I have another appointment after this one.” This sets the customer at ease because they know they won’t have to beg you to get off the phone, you have defined the conversational limit. You have the control.

 

MORSE Code to Success

We have captured the energy, controlled it and funneled it into a positive experience for both parties. Energy like this becomes more powerful the more focused it is, so if we can direct that focus onto 1 or at most 3 objectives that we know we can satisfy we can earn the business and help that customer. Sometimes we need to help identify that focus though, we need to help define the problem so that we can create the solution. I call this the MORSE Code of success.

M.anufacture

O.pportunity.

R.ealize it.

S.hare it.

E.xecute

 

Very often our potential customer comes into contact with us without a firm goal in mind, or at least not with one they are sure about. We can use the tools of control to uncover a need, to Manufacture an Opportunity that the customer didn’t even know was there. Once we have identified the opportunity we need to help the customer Realize the need. You will know that your customer recognizes the need when they Share that need back to you, often prompted by us. Then, it’s just time to take action and Execute.

Imagine this scenario- The customer calls in and thinks you can help save them money somehow, they already pay for this service or product but perhaps you can provide it for less money. It turns out that you can’t really save them that much money on a monthly basis, but you can save them a lot of money in the long run, your product pays for itself faster or has a shorter payment plan. The customer wanted to save money, but was probably thinking it would come in the form of monthly savings. Instead, you Manufacture the Opportunity to save money in the long run. You plant the seed with a  control question- “So what I’m hearing is that you can afford your currently monthly payments without any problems, but you think you can save a significant amount of money over the life of this product with an upgrade right?” Then a little later in the conversation ask for the customer to Share this opportunity back with you, “So can you imagine what you’ll do with your extra money once you’ve paid this off? What will you do with the extra money then?” The customer starts to Share their plan for the additional funds that will come in the long run, this creates ownership of the decision in their mind. This goal is now theirs and luckily you can provide the solution. All that’s left to do now is to Execute a little more control and get to the point where you can ask for the business.

 

Next post we will talk about SalesFu Persuasion!