Written by Hamish Knox; President of Sandler in Calgary, Canada
Creating accountable, sales focused organizations in Calgary
Your third biggest competitor in sales is the last salesperson your prospect spoke with, whether they’re a competitor or not (the first two are “yourself” and “the status quo”).
Think of it from your prospect’s prospective. You’re just another cheesy, slimy salesperson who’s going to use a bunch of tricks to make them part with their wallet for products or services they don’t want or need. At least that’s what they’ve been taught by all of the I-centred salespeople they interact with.
Understanding that your prospect has their psychological walls up gives you an edge in your sales process. Instead of attempting to bash through their walls with “bonding” moves or presentations that serve mainly to get your emotional needs met, you’ll invest time attempting to lower your prospect’s walls and either succeed, which will reduce friction in your sales cycle, or learn that your prospect’s walls aren’t coming down so you can move on to a prospect who’s willing to interact with you as an equal.
Lowering your prospect’s walls is a matter using David Sandler’s concept of “disarming honesty.” Being disarmingly honest with your prospect causes them to treat you different because you don’t sound like the other salespeople they meet.
To be successful at being disarmingly honest master the following attitude, behavior and technique.
- Attitude, be willing to say things that aren’t seemingly in your best interest – prospect’s expect salespeople to defend if they are asked a question with an answer that, from a traditional sales perspective, wouldn’t benefit them. Essentially any question with an answer of “no.” Prospects get very nervous around salespeople who “blue sky” (aka “no problems ever”) their products or services. Being willing to admit you and your products aren’t perfect will take your prospect’s walls down a little because you’re relatable as a human being.
- Behavior, be prepared to uncover the real reason behind your prospect’s questions – David Sandler said, “the problem the prospect brings you is never the real problem.” By extension, the question your prospect asks you, say “do you offer custom manufacturing in addition to standard parts?” isn’t the real question, but most salespeople will either say “no” and defend or say “yes” and start mentally adding a line to the order. You probably know already what questions your prospect will ask (if not, start tracking and build a playbook of these to support you and your teammates) so when you prepare for your meeting write down those questions and next to each write down a response question (e.g. “thanks for asking, what prompted you to ask about custom manufacturing?”) or story (e.g. “glad you asked. We have a client who inquired about custom manufacturing before they started working with us and they discovered that our standard parts fit most of their ‘custom’ jobs. Curious what kind of ‘custom’ manufacturing you plan to do?”) to use when your prospect asks. By being prepared you’re more likely to respond to your prospect in a relaxed tone and manner, which creates rapport with your prospect, because they believe they’re talking to a “surgeon” instead of an “intern,” and lowers their walls.
- Technique, treat your prospect like a human being – not that the other salespeople your prospect meets don’t, but getting beyond the arm’s length transaction of traditional sales down to a personal level by empathizing with your prospect makes their walls crumble. A gentle “that sucks” or “sounds frustrating” after your prospect shares a problem with you reinforces to your prospect that you seek to support them in finding a solution to their problem instead of seeing at them as another potential commission cheque.
Sandler CEO, Dave Mattson is fond of saying, “a sales call that starts well, ends well.” A key to having your sales call start and end well is bringing down your prospect’s walls.
Until next time… go sell something.