I teach that Selling is the Process of
– Connecting with a person (one at a time, not a “numbers’ game”),
– Asking for Permission and
– Offering an Experience of your Solution to a Problem they admit having, and
– Making a Proposal for an Exchange of Value.
‘Connecting’ – Selling is based on Relationships. Without Relationships, the process becomes impersonal, imposing and much more cumbersome. However, aRelationship would not grow without Connection. Moreover, people generally avoid Connecting with people who want to take advantage of them. And, when the Salesperson has the attitude of wanting something FROM the client (instead of wanting something FOR the client), what kind of energy do you think they project?
‘Asking for Permission’ is something that most salespersons find difficult to adopt, because they have such a high sense of entitlement to bump into someone’s life. You know that obsolete literature about “putting the foot on the door”, or “if they push you out the door, you get back through the window”? When the Salesperson asks for Permission to Offer something, they accomplish so many things at once: they get the prospect’s Attention, they are already Different than any other salesperson that prospect ever met, the prospect feels Respected, so the door is open for Connecting.
‘Solution to a Problem they admit having’ – the only reason somebody would take time (out of their busy day) to talk to a Salesperson would be to Solve a Problem to which they want a Solution Now. If the person does not have (or admit having) a Problem, the Salesperson has no business trying to Sell anything to that person. Thus, the Salesperson’s focus can shift, from “convincing this person to meet with me” (which raises all sorts or resistance and frustration) to “finding if they have this Problem” (to which the Salesperson has a Solution). I discovered that, when Salespersons made this shift, Prospecting ceased to be perceived as an obstacle. Also, since their attitude shifted into “wanting something FOR the client” (instead of “wanting something FROM them”), they already started to connect with their prospects and, as a result, they got more appointments. Paradoxically, when you “let go of the need” to achieve something, that’s exactly when the “something” actually happens…
‘Offering an Experience’ – Suppose you have never seen the ocean and imagine that I am doing my best to “convince” you that it will make you feel good to spend your vacation there. I am bringing my best arguments, I even try to “manipulate” your emotions, perhaps even “deceive” you about it (saying that it’s something that it’s not, just because I realized you like that particular aspect).
Compare that with some other person, who takes you to the shore of the ocean, so you have a personal experience of what that ocean is about.
In which of the situations would you be more apt to make a proper decision about it?
I am not proposing that the Salespersons should take all of their prospects to the ocean (although the “puppy close” technique is probably one of the best in the world for creating customer satisfaction). However, if they were to shift their focus during the Presentation, from “convincing” to “giving the client an Experience of the Value of their Solution”, that would change the entire dynamics of that interaction. The client would have no reason to feel “cornered” and “resistant”, so the chances will increase that they would accept the new ideas.
‘Proposal for an Exchange of Value’ – the old term “closing” is inadequate for what’s really happening at that moment, because once the prospect becomes a client, an entire array of possibilities open up. “Closing” suggests “cornering” the prospect to say Yes, and that’s a dis-empowering attitude to hold. Instead, IF the prospect recognized Value in the Salesperson’s Solution, now it’s time to quantify that Value. The Salesperson simply asks for some Value in return for the Value they provide. We – as human beings – psychologically perceive Value using some mental mechanisms, and there are ways to facilitate for the prospect to recognize the Value in that Solution – IF that Value truly exists. Here’s where the Art of Influencing is mostly effective.
Please note that I didn’t use terms as “convincing”, “persuading”, “manipulating”, and so on. A ‘decision’ is a process which doesn’t end at the moment of signing the agreement. Quite the contrary, a ‘decision’ is something that we make over and over, and we continue to make over time. That means that if the salesperson “tricks” now the prospect into buying, later on – when that salesperson and his pressure are gone – the client will be free to make their own decision; that’s why most of those “tricked” clients cancel the order next day.