Posted by Ari Greenbuam, Co-founder of conXpros
Likely, you are familiar with the age old saying in sales, “the prospect buys you not your product”. I believe in this statement 100%. If you are not already a believer, I suggest you continue reading and quickly adopt this FACT. It is important to understand the psychology behind this statement as opposed to just accepting it as fact. The basic principle is that people do business with people they can relate to. It is no different from how we choose our friends, significant other, or anyone we spend time with, the laws of attraction apply. With this understanding, we can now better understand the importance being yourself has in the world of sales. Prospects do not need extra reasons to say no or walk away from a deal, so it is imperative that we are real and genuine. When one sounds “salesy” or fake, it leads the customer to judge you as such and they are less likely to do business with you. When you successfully engage your customers in a real and genuine way, you will give the feeling that you are here to connect, understand, and help the prospect make a good decision rather than just sell to them and earn a commission. You are a business person, so you must be a professional version of yourself, but remain true to who you are. Just like in life, not everyone you encounter will be drawn to the YOU, but you will find more that are when you are genuine. When we encounter someone that is clearly not “real”, are we encouraged to spend time with them, pursue a relationship, accept their advice without questioning the motive? Being real and genuine are essential to building the relationships that lead prospects to becoming customers, and new customers to becoming long term customers.
There is not a successful person in the history of the selling profession that was not enthusiastic and able to express that emotion to others effectively. Enthusiasm is a powerful tool, but can also work against you if overdone, thus risking sounding like the classic late-night infomercial or over the top TV commercial pitchmen of the 80’s and 90’s. Buyers are waiting for a reason to say “no” to you as the seller, so we must do everything in our power to avoid providing them the ammunition and justification to do so. I am not suggesting that you change who you are, rather deliver the customer an enthusiastic YOU. You should be excited to share your product or service with your customers as it is something that you believe in and know will meet their needs. Unfortunately, many sales people leave it up to the product or needs of the prospect to create an enthusiastic buyer, when in fact they will only become enthusiastic if you infect them with it. Passion and enthusiasm sell! Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” The transference of this passionate energy is your power. The only way for the prospect to become enthusiastic about your product or service, is for you to lead the way. Of course, you must believe in what you are selling to be genuinely passionate about it, as prospective buyers are like human radars for BS. Therefore, a prerequisite to this powerful tool of transference of enthusiasm and passion is belief. You must believe in what you sell. I have used an exercise to help many people better understand what is missing from their selling process and once recognized and changes applied, their results were outstanding as they will be for yourself. Close your eyes and think of what you love and have a burning passion for. Then imagine that you could not do this without the help of your best friend, who is not as enthusiastic about the same thing as yourself. Then have the conversation to convince your friend to help you out. This is the same natural enthusiasm and passion that you must incorporate into your selling process and you will receive immediate returns. You must talk to your customer as if they are your “best friend” and talk about your product or service like you would with the one thing you identified as “what you love the most”.
Below, I will outline for you the approach you should take to each of the three stages of the selling process as it relates to your level of enthusiasm and delivery of it below.
- Discovery stage: The enthusiasm meter should be closer to the middle than to the full blast level. You want to show your prospect that you are genuinely interested in them and understanding their needs by being naturally enthusiastic. This should be similar to the way you would inquire to a friend about an exciting event in their life. By doing this you will avoid giving the prospect the feeling that you are going through the obligatory motions as part of a selling process and they will be more likely to share their needs, issues, and pain points with you.
- Presentation stage: This is where you turn it up a notch or two depending on your personality (making sure it stays genuine) and pour your passion about your product or service out to the prospect. Use your enthusiasm to paint the picture of your 100% belief that your product or service meets their exact needs. This is where you will apply the feeling described above of talking to your best friend about the thing you are most passionate about in the world.
- Answering objections or concerns stage: : At this stage, you want to dial down the enthusiasm and focus your tone and delivery to be more passive and empathetic. Avoid being overly enthusiastic as it will send a message that you are focused on selling to them rather than truly helping them by understanding and addressing their concerns. This shift in tone & delivery helps build the necessary trust for the prospect to move from a “no” to a “yes”.
As I am sure you can imagine, there are other important factors to your delivery that we must address for you to truly deliver the best YOU possible. Zig Ziglar coined the term “word merchant” and it stuck with me throughout my career in sales. I feel it is important to tie the concept he is referring to, tone & word emphasis, to the concept of being real and genuine to avoid the common mistake of sounding fake or salesy when applying the effective techniques Zig was such a master of. Through voice inflection, you have the power to control what emotions are elicited in response to your words. The very same words can take on entirely different meanings and feelings based on how and where you place the inflection. You literally want to infect the prospect with your energy, providing it is a positive one. Infection can be positive and the best word to describe what you are doing. For example, there is no better or more descriptive word to describe what one is doing with their smile than infecting others. “She infected them with her smile.” Search for a better word to describe this effect, I guarantee you will have difficulty finding a more appropriate one than “infected”. Emotions are literally contagious. Whether in the business or sports world, a leader’s emotional tone, whether positive or negative, can spread like a virus to the rest of the team. You are the leader of the sales process. The emotions you choose to infect your prospect with will determine their decision. A monotone and flat voice says to the customer, “I’m bored and have absolutely no interest in what you’re talking about.” Slow speed and low pitch communicate the message, “I’m depressed and want to be left alone.” A high-pitched and emphatic voice says, “I’m enthusiastic about this subject.” An abrupt speed and loud tone say, “I’m angry and not open to input!” High pitch combined with drawn-out speed conveys, “I don’t believe what I’m saying.” It doesn’t take long after a potential customer hears the tone of your voice for them to pick up on your attitude. In fact, your prospect will know within a few seconds of initiating the meeting or call whether they’re talking to a genuinely enthusiastic person or one that is doing their job. Someone interested in helping or making a sale and commission.
To be effective at infecting with inflection, you must practice and become tuned into what possible messages and emotions are being created through your voice, tone, and delivery. I was first turned onto this concept when listening to a Zig Ziglar recorded live presentation. To better emphasize how voice inflection impacts the delivery of a single statement, he progressed through a similar sentence as below with emphasis placed on a different word each time. It quickly became clear that this was a great skill to master and the reason I am including this exercise for your practice and understanding. The following can be done with any statement, but the one below will help to understand how placing emphasis on one single word creates an entirely different meaning than when it is placed on another. The implications of where emphasis was placed (underlined word) is in the parenthesis following each line. As an exercise, repeat this statement out loud placing the emphasis on the underlined word in each repetition to truly grasp the differences.
I didn’t say James stole my brown jacket (Someone else said it)
I didn’t say James stole my brown jacket (Strong denial of having said it)
I didn’t say James stole my brown jacket (I may have implied or suspected)
I didn’t say James stole my brown jacket (Someone else did)
I didn’t say James stole my brown jacket (He did something else with it)
I didn’t say James stole my brown jacket (He stole someone else’s jacket)
I didn’t say James stole my brown jacket (He stole one of another color)
I didn’t say James stole my brown jacket (He stole something else brown)
The more effort you make to understand the different emotional buttons and pictures you paint through your words and the way in which we deliver them, the better you will become at influencing the decisions people make. Your tone, delivery and voice inflection will infect the customer, the only question is will it be like a disease/virus, or like a smile? Just like the word “infect” takes on different meanings based on your choice of where, when and how to use it, the choice is yours to infect your customers with enthusiasm and a genuine YOU.