Written By Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
In the selling profession we “pave roads” for our prospective clients. Just like the roadways we drive on, there are different routes we can take, each route leads in a different direction. I have used the terms “paving of roads” in the past in reference to guiding the prospect to a “yes” answer. However, I often see salespeople making it easy for their client to say “no”. It is important that we recognize the actions we are taking that make this path the one too commonly traveled.
Working with, managing & coaching salespeople for as long as I have, one of the most common things preventing success is misplaced focus. When we enter any sales interaction, whether it is the first meeting or follow-up, we have a simple choice to make: Who is the meeting about? Unfortunately, the common focus by the salesperson is on themselves. The entire interaction is about what they want/need from the client, their product or service, the value they bring, and their personal experiences. It does not take long for the prospective client to recognize what you are all about…YOU! People love receiving. Asking them to give is an easy way guide the prospect to a “no”.
Successful sales pros focus on the client. You must take the YOU out of the equation and make everything about THEM. Become hyper-focused on what YOU can give to THEM. Focus on what they need and want, their concerns, their experiences. Be more concerned with providing your client with the information needed to make the best decision for themselves, regardless of whether they buy from you or someone else. When you make this shift from YOU to THEM, the path towards a “yes” becomes a more likely destination. When your prospective client feels that you genuinely care about their needs and not your own gain, you have given them something worth saying yes to.
Never ask electronically!!
What is easier for you to say not to? Electronic communications such as an email, text or DM? When you are on the phone? Or when you are physically in front of someone? I do not know anyone that would suggest it is easier to say no to someone when looking them straight in the eye. Telling someone no over the phone is easier than face to face, but nothing compares to the ease at which a no can be delivered when the ask is sent via email or other electronic messaging.
Salespeople can often be lazy. It is less time consuming to shoot someone an email or direct message than to pick up the phone and call or go out to meet the client in person. As a result of this feeling of being efficient, we put the prospective client firmly on the path to a no. Emails and messages can be ignored, removing the need to ever offer the no. Even if they are not ignored, there are little to no emotions attached to a keyboard. Typing “no” is too easy. Additionally, unless the client is open to a back and forth dialogue by email or text, how can you address and resolve any possible concerns? The way you make it easy for your client to say no is by not being there when you ask.
Make it tough for the client to say no. Force them to look you in the eye, with all the human emotions attached to it, and shoot you down. Put yourself in a position to have a conversation about what is driving the negative response and potentially move them to a positive one by understanding and solving their concerns or problems. If a personal meeting is not an option, at worst case, don’t be lazy and pick up the phone! Bottom line… never ask electronically or risk putting your prospective client on the path to an easy “no”.
Confidence is king
Confidence will determine what path your prospective client is on. A lack of confidence in your word choices, phrasing of questions, and asking for the order guides the customer towards a no. Who would you choose to do business with, a person who clearly believes in what they are saying and offering or the opposite? Another rhetorical question, but it never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople litter their conversations with non-confident language. You will not motivate someone to be confident in what you offer unless you instill the confidence in them. When you suggest that you “may” meet someone’s needs, it opens the door that you also “may not” and perhaps they should search for alternative solutions. By asking a prospect “do you think this will be the right solution for you?”, you leave it up to them (the non-expert) to decide.
Once you understand the needs of your prospective client and determine that your product/service will in fact meet their needs, let them know that with confidence. Tell them that you “will” solve their problems. When you ask your client for confirmation of your offer, ask them “You can clearly see how my solution will meet your needs, correct?”. Conveying confidence through your words & phrasing will put your client on the path to a “yes”.
Control the Process
The person in control determines the direction a sales interaction will take. Often, salespeople feel that they do not want to be pushy or confrontational. As a result, they choose to throw the ball in the client’s court. Questions such as “what is our next step?” or “how would you like to proceed?” clearly illustrate that you are not an authoritative source and that you are not someone that will help guide them to the right decision as a trusted advisor or consultant. You are relinquishing control to the prospect and requiring them to determine what comes next. Fear of upsetting the client is a slippery slope and one that puts you on the path to a no.
Successful sales pros are always in control of the process. Providing that you have taken the steps to focus on the client’s needs, build value, and answer questions and concerns, there is no reason to fear being viewed as pushy by asking for the sale. Simple closing questions such as “do you have any additional questions before we move things forward?” put you in the driver seat. If they have questions, awesome. You are maintaining control and continuing them on the path towards a yes. If they do not have any further questions, you have dictated the next steps… moving forward to do business. By allowing them to decide what comes next, you are accepting a no to the real work you need to do with your prospective client to genuinely serve them. When maintain control, you guide your client to determine a process that allows you to solve problems, answer concerns, and offer value.
Everything you do, guides your prospective client onto a path. What path they are on in entirely in your control. If you want better results, stop making it easy for your clients to say no and make it easier for them to say YES!!