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Perhaps you’ve heard about how valuable it is to do market research and get into the minds of your customers. Make no mistake, I’m a big fan of asking customers what they want. It’s a great way to develop insights about your target market that you simply can’t get any other way.
But there’s one important caveat to that age-old wisdom.
It’s great to ask customers what they want when you’re designing your product or service. But if you ask them what they want in a sales conversation, it can sometimes backfire on you — and you may not even know it.
Here’s the thing: If you ask a prospect about his or her goals, they might tell you and you might learn something. But if you were truly the go-to expert who knows them inside and out, shouldn’t you already know what they want? That small mindset shift opens up a valuable psychological difference between those who ask for sales and those who close sales.
In fact, I’m not even nice when I’m in sales mode. Instead, I’ve developed a habit of confidently telling my prospects exactly what they need in order to reach their goals. Then, I tell them exactly why they need my solution. And finally, I tell them that I’m the best person on this earth to give that thing to them.
Some might think this approach opposes the modern “consultative sale” method. In a way, it does — but the reality is, many people can’t fully describe what they want and can get confused when presented with too many questions and options. Often, it’s easier for all involved to tell them what they should do because you’re the expert.
Sometimes, when people go to buy a product or service, they can get locked into their fight-or-flight system. They naturally have doubts; for instance, they doubt whether your solution is right for them, whether it’s the right price and whether you’re trustworthy at all.
That’s why I don’t give prospects wishy-washy questions or answers. I tell them, “Look, here’s where you’re at, here’s where you want to go, and here’s what I’m going to do to help you get there. Let’s start.” And it’s not just the confident message that matters — it’s the tone you use as well. Consider the following anecdote:
Have you ever been set upon by a super-nice salesperson? Their tone just screams “I’m trying to sell you something.” But your doctor isn’t. When your doctor comes in, with that stern and knowledgeable tone, we listen to every word. If they tried to butter us up, that would probably be a bad sign.
Here’s another anecdote. If you have a dog, you might know Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer. His whole thing is “calm, assertive.” When you’re calm and assertive, the animal just falls into line naturally. They’re trained to follow confidence and can immediately tell the difference.
The same principle can be applied to your interactions with customers. The next time you’re selling, be calm and assertive. Don’t smile too much, or try to be nice or cute. Your customer wants to solve their problem. Give them a confident look and tone that makes them feel comfortable that you have the right solution for them. To that end, here are a few keys to keep in mind in your next conversation:
1. Poke fun at the sales process. You know you’re selling and your prospect knows you’re selling. There’s no clandestine psychology going on, so why not bring what you’re doing out into the open? I make it a habit of saying something like, “look, I’ll admit that I’m trying to sell you on this … because I know with 100% certainty you’ll get the results you’re asking for.”
2. Watch your word choice. Saying things like “I think,” or “it might,” or “I could,” make you sound like you live in a world of possibilities, not in the world of absolute delivery your client wants. Do you think you can help or do you know? Your prospect is looking for confidence — give it to them.
3. Know when to stop talking. One of the worst offenses I see from salespeople is they keep selling when they should be listening or asking questions. The prospect barely wants to hear about you and your service the first time, never mind the seventh time. They want to talk about themselves — so shut up and let them tell you how to close the sale.
4. Command the close with affirmative questions. Throughout the process, ask affirmative questions they must answer by saying “yes.” For instance, “could you see this working for you right away?” Or, “how would you see this rolling out if we started today?” Putting them in the future state of having already bought your service is a great way for them to envision working with you and getting the results they want. If they can’t picture it, they can’t make it a reality.
At the end of the day, your prospects already have doubt about you and your offering. If your confidence can overcome their doubt, you’ll win. Otherwise, your sale might just go to the dogs.
July 2, 2019 at 07:04AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs