Is your selling made easy enough for them to want to buy from you? Or are you so busy selling that you get in the way of your client being able to buy?
There are more selling skills courses and techniques than you can point a stick at and I certainly don’t wish to try and compete in that space. However, in the context of the grooming that I frequently provide for my clients to enhance what I call their “soft skills”, I would like to share an approach to selling that those clients have found elegantly different. It is one I recently presented to a Regional meeting of my Institute for Independent Business network of professionals (www.iib.ws)
It revolves around utilizing the concepts of superior rapport building and also empathy.
Selling made easy through Rapport
I have seen rapport defined as the presence of trust and responsiveness; what I call a warming and connecting vibe that is felt at an unconscious level. In the presence of rapport anything is possible. I have learned that experiencing resistance means there is a lack of rapport, suggesting we need to turn up the focus to strengthen it. That is something that I teach.
Daniel Goleman (of “Emotional Intelligence” fame) recently described empathy as “that natural curiosity about other people’s reality; the ability to see the world through others’ eyes”. He suggests this cognitive empathy “is mind-to-mind, giving us a mental sense of how another person’s thinking works, and that this way of tuning in to another person does more than give us an understanding of their view – it tells us how best to communicate with that person: what matters most to them, their models of the world, and what even what words to use – or avoid – in talking with them”.
So in my approach, this form of “soft skill” communication becomes an uncommon form of connected feeling with someone. It requires an approach that has us take our eyes off ourselves and put them on the person we are talking to or wanting to influence to buy from us.
So how much better do you think you could sell (or motivate others to buy) if you knew you could win most people over to your agenda?
Would it help to have a 7 step approach that makes them buy ?
Most of us think our value proposition comes from our experience and our knowledge. Which is true, because generally that’s what people or companies want to hire us for, right? However, nobody is interested in hearing a flood of everything that you know. Most people are only interested to hear your pitch or solution in respect of what it is that they are looking for. People don’t want to buy a drill bit (your talk or product), they want a hole in the wall (your solution, an outcome, but to their very specific problem). So let’s look at these steps, shall we?
With the right level of Being Curious as well as being Interested or Interesting, we ask the right questions so that we get the other person talking preferably and mainly about themselves, what they are about and hopefully about what they are looking for. You can read more about this in Questions and Statements.
This way we are able to narrow down our vast knowledge and experience only to the very specific areas your client has chosen to express in response to your questions. So in the light of the above, we don’t use a shotgun or blunderbuss that sprays hundreds of pellets in the hope that a few might hit the right “raw nerves” of what the other is looking for. Instead one or two specific rifle shots are all you need to hit the mark very accurately. Everyone wins.
We can also show that we are taking in all the right messages and signals by appropriately using The Power of Summarizing from time to time.
Most of us have lost the ability to listen. We interrupt. We cut people off. We are thinking about how best to respond or even upstage them and often finish their sentences and respond before they have even finished. How? By assuming what we think they are going to say before they even do. That’s terribly rude and even arrogant, but please just observe typical business conversations and meetings around you. It has become very prevalent in today’s fast paced business world, hasn’t it?
If our conversation has been driven by us asking good questions, then our attentive listening should form 80% of our presence in that discussion. Asking questions and summarizing and then providing your solutions specifically to what they have shared with you that they want should make up no more than 20%. In Are you listening? I call that listening with all your senses: to what’s being said, how it’s being said and also to what’s not being said.
It is this degree of listening that earns you the right to speak and make your pitch.
So if you are really interested and really watching and listening and have placed the other person at ease and comfortably talking to you, you are now able to observe a whole bunch of things about how they are speaking with you. You can’t do that if you aren’t listening.
We know that people are more often compelled to buy around emotions or feelings of guilt, fear or pain, particularly if we are able to connect those to the hope of being able to alleviate those emotions. Observing their communication at the level of attention and empathy I’m talking about will enable us to observe where or when these emotions might prevail.
Now you can notice their idiosyncrasies and patterns or traits, underlying behaviours or attitudes. You can notice their styles of communication as well as nuances and certain beliefs. This is where the empathy we started describing above comes into play. At this level we can be really “tuned in” to them; to become really connected with them and by noticing their preferred means of communicating and perhaps the above mentioned emotions, we can understand how best to respond to them and to speak with them also at the more “unconscious level”.
5. Adapt / Emulate
Why would you want to notice these? Because then you can match and mirror their styles and mannerisms. Why? Because at such an unconscious level of rapport, this has their mind recognizing: “hey, this person is speaking my language – I’m warming to them” or even “I like them”.
Please remember that our spoken word makes up only 7% of our language. Gesture, that is our degree of animation (how we speak) makes up 38% and posture, that is our “body language” makes up 55% so it is in the unspoken language that we make our biggest impressions and that transmits our strongest messages, and then more into the unconscious realm. Matching and mirroring the other persons style of communication is one of the strongest forms of building and influencing rapport that you can find. This is why I spend a lot of time in my coaching and mentoring programs grooming my clients in those “soft skills”. It becomes the “language of influence”.
However, I need to strongly advocate the use of subtlety here. We generally communicate with intellectually clever people in our business selling space, and they will punish blatancy with the contempt it deserves.
In my blogSmile – it suits you!I infer that the smile is the universal leveler and connector. People don’t want to be communicating with a sourpuss. They have enough problems of their own so they don’t want another person around them that reminds them of all that.
If instead there is a warm, friendly, welcoming and beaming smile which, coupled with a curiosity suggesting here is someone that has some ENTHUSIASM! for who they are and what they do and that they are happy to be talking to, what a difference that makes, right?
7. Shoot – with your solution
So having asked the right questions to get them talking (about themselves) about what they want or need, and listened carefully to what they say, while summarizing for them from time to time to confirm you have understood them you should by now have a pretty good insight into what they are wrestling with, what they need or want and how you can satisfy that.
Now your response can be short, sharp and to the(ir) point which should earn you a much greater response than if they have to sift through mountains of (self) talk and extract relevant insights from your outpouring of everything that you know.
Now you can focus on demonstrating how your solution (the drill bit) can, with confidence, make their problem go away (leaving the desired hole in the wall).
Are you selling or are they buying?
So can you see how this approach is quite different to what you yourself will probably experience when most sales people try to sell to you? I certainly struggle with the prevalence of “hard sell” and far prefer to have someone interested in me and what I want. I react quite differently to those, and find people employing the above approach to be far more effective.
The way I look at it, this way we don’t have to “sell”, we allow the other person to “buy” and sometimes in doing things this way I notice how they “talk themselves into” buying my solution to their problem.
So what next?
So if this has struck a chord with you or perhaps reminded you of an approach that has “slipped away from you”, why not put an awareness on this in your next relevant conversations? Why not prepare yourself by noting down these 7 steps and “having a go”? Feedback is the breakfast of champions. By having a go, you can always fine-tune them to your preferred style and what you then know works best for you.
What if you could?
Steve Carey says
Outstanding post Heiner. I lost count of the sales people I received in my business who came in and started telling me what they had to offer, with no attempt to build rapport and/or find out what was important to me. I’m afraid to say they left, in most cases, none the wiser – I just didn’t know how to go about giving them feedback that their whole approach was just never going to work, at least with me!
Filiz Tigli says
You are a man of great wisdom Heiner! I love reading your blogs! Sometimes, as you said, they may be things we are aware of but loose sight of time to time… it’s great advice and a great reminder!
Thank you for diligently sharing with us!