People buy people before they ever buy products, services or even solutions!
“Oh come on” you cry “we know this stuff!”… but do we? Do we really think about this to the degree it deserves? It seems popular for some buyers to make a big play of conducting their own research and making their purchases online so that hey don’t have to engage with people. But what happens when it all goes wrong? They want to engage with a real person! In fact they demand to engage with a person, a manager, someone in authority… Yes, even the techies are humans who need to engage with other humans!
We want someone to trust, someone to blame, someone to convince us… An interesting way to change the age old saying “people buy (from) people” is to say “people judge people” and research tells us that they judge very quickly, sometimes in seconds rather than minutes. They make a judgement about credibility, integrity, honesty, decency, shared values, self interest versus altruism and more - and all in a few seconds or minutes.
So… surely it stands to reason that we should focus on this a bit more. If someone is potentially going to “buy me” or not, as the first purchase they make on the way to the main event, I had better make sure I do everything in my power to make sure they “buy me” so I have one less thing to convince them of. How am I going to do that?
1. I’m going to create an excellent first impression to make sure I tick those early judgement boxes.
2. I’m going to give them space to “check me out” before I go any further into my sales process by engaging in ritual, cliché and flowing conversation, focus 80% on their stories and only 20% on mine.
3. I’m going to focus on my conversation skills = asking questions, listening to the answers, being sincerely curious, so that I maximise the opportunity to build rapport and find empathy.
4. I’m going to apply my knowledge and skill in the area of personality assessment e.g. social styles, language preferences (VAKOG), meta-programmes (NLP), convincer patterns (NLP), conflict modes. I will do this by engaging in great conversation and proactively listening - not just to the answers, but to they way the answers are expressed and how body language and hand / eye movement supports the answers given.
5. I’m going to think carefully about how I respond to questions asked of me, so that I can maximise the opportunity for intelligence gathering as I seek to understand and clarify.
6. I’m going to borrow from Stephen Covey and “seek to understand” rather than trying to be understood.
7. I’m going to uncover needs, wants, desires, worries, issues, concerns, barriers, enablers, triggers and much more so that when the time comes to present solutions or opportunities, I can play back words, phrases, descriptions so that my prospect knows I have been listening.
8. I’m going to handle questions, queries and objections with integrity, openness, transparency and respect so that at no time do I spoil all the hard work I’ve done by “selling” when “selling” would be the worse thing I could do.
9. I’m going to summarise regularly all the way through the journey so that I make sure I keep the prospect with me at all times, and if I sense a gap appearing, I close it before I dare to move on.
10. I’m not going to close the deal - I’m going to do everything in steps 1 - 9 so that the deal closes itself with my summary of everything we’ve discussed, everything we’ve agreed and the relevance of the solution or opportunity we have explored. If I need to close at this stage, I know I’ve done something very wrong along the way and I need to go back and close the gaps wherever they appeared in the journey.
In sales, the most likely behaviour is that which we default to under pressure, or when life is zooming at 100mph, or worse of all, when we are relaxed and coasting - default behaviour! The question is, how can we make the above a solid part of our default behaviour? The answer... just do it... today, tomorrow, as many times as possible this week, this month! Then self coach to tweak and perfect as necessary. It’s amazing how quickly we can change default behaviours into those which win business!
By Chris Gale, Commercial Director/Solutions and Delivery Specialist, Xceeda Group. The Xceeda mission is quite simply to improve the performance of individuals, teams and organisations. They do this at strategic and operational levels by developing the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours required to achieve goals, targets and growth.