In sales one of the most common and frustrating things we experience is when a prospect dismisses our product or service without even hearing the first thing about it. Gaining even momentary consideration is typically the first hurdle we encounter. The solution to this is NOT an overwhelming value-added talk track. The solution is collaboration.
Collaboration occurs when a high-level of emotional intelligence meets a collaborative maturity level. This a win-win or walk-away paradigm. When we first approach a prospect, whether over the phone or in person, chances are they will be in a defensive win/lose paradigm and we may be in an autonomous win-only paradigm. These two states of existence are like oil and water.
The standard move in traditional sales tactics is to either:
- Pretend we are not there to sell anything.
- Build personal bonding and rapport until selling becomes comfortable for both parties.
The problem is that neither of these work and both lack integrity.
Selling in the New Normal
In order to sell in the new normal, integrity must be present from the very first interaction. If we approach a prospect with only our goal in mind then we instantly hinder trust from being built. What must be done in the first few seconds of a sales interaction is we must discover if our prospect’s beliefs match our own. This comes even before a comprehensive needs analysis, as the prospect likely is in a defensive state and true needs cannot be discussed or uncovered until trust is built.
In spite of the old adage, people do business with those they trust more than with those they like. Likability is great, but trust is better. The first goal in sales is to establish trust, not rapport. Trust allows for rapport to occur naturally and at a higher level. This is synergy.
In the first few seconds of a sales call the best thing you can ask a prospect is what they believe and then share your own beliefs. If commonality is discovered then needs, pain and desires can be explored safely. Here is an example of a first time call with a prospect:
Mr. Smith: “Hello”
Me: “Hello Mr. Smith, this is John from RedRock Leadership, did I catch you at a bad time?”
Mr. Smith: “I’m pretty busy, what’s up?”
Me: “I appreciate you sharing with me that you’re busy, I thought you might be, so this call will take less than two minutes at the end of which you can decide if we should schedule more time to talk at a later date. Is that fair?”
Mr. Smith: “Two minutes it is.”
Me: “Mr. Smith, do you believe that training and growing your team is critical to your success, both now and in the future?”
Mr. Smith: “Of course.”
Me: “Mr. Smith, since you believe that, which I also believe, I assume you are already engaged in a training program with your team, is that correct?”
“Mr. Smith: Yes, sort of”
Me: “Could you be more specific?”
Mr. Smith: “We do some in-house training now but we aren’t really in the market for new training.”
Me: “Thanks for sharing that with me. Our two minutes is about up. Is your calendar nearby? I’d like to continue our conversation to discover if we may be a resource for each other. How about this Thursday afternoon, say 2 PM?”
Mr. Smith: “Hold on, let me pull up my calendar.”
Just like you, I have made too many cold calls to count. In the past when making cold calls I’ve asked the prospect if they have pain or tried to overwhelm them with charm and hit them between the eyes with my best value-added statement. Not surprisingly I often did not appeal to them. I was not considerate and then tried to elicit an emotion or confession without first establishing trust, which violated our relationship from the start.
Trust is built when common beliefs are held. Then, through empathy and active listening, collaboration occurs. When I begin here I find a surprisingly different response. The key is to remain synergistic even when objections occur, which is where most salespeople lose their focus. The reason is that they attempt to employ synergy as a tactic, instead of letting it change their paradigm altogether.
If you want to sell more and help more people, then tactics alone are not the solution. You must first learn what synergy is, see and hear what it sounds like, desire to live within it, and then practice how to create it.
This is how selling in the new normal thrives.
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Founder of RedRock Leadership