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Two Things You Can Takeaway from Your Prospects: Hamish Knox – Sandler Training


Sandler Training
Written by Hamish Knox; President of Sandler in Calgary, Canada
Creating accountable, sales focused organizations in Calgary

One of David Sandler’s rules is, “if you want to be treated differently by your prospects you must act and sound different than the other salespeople they meet.” You can do that from your first interaction with your prospect by taking away their anxiety and the friction created in a typical sales interaction from your prospect’s objections.

No matter if your sales cycle is 12 minutes or 12 months one of your prospect’s biggest anxieties is what will happen at the end of your interaction. In fact, if you don’t take this anxiety away up front your prospect will spend your meeting with a little voice in their head that says, on repeat, “they’re going to close you! they’re going to close you!”

David Sandler created the “Up Front Contract” step in his system to address the anxieties prospects have about interacting with salespeople. One part of the Up-Front Contract addresses potential outcomes of your interaction, including that you may not be a good fit, providing clarity to your prospect about what you will do next if both of you want to move forward.

In the real world that may sound like:

  • For a one call close – on the other hand: Prospect if we both feel we are a good fit that would mean I’d pull an order form out of my bag, it won’t come out unless we both want to move forward, we’d fill it out, collect your credit card details and schedule your first delivery. Are you comfortable with that if we want to move forward at the end of our meeting?
  • For a multi-call close – on the other hand: Prospect if we both want to keep moving forward with exploring if we’re the right fit to support you on this prospect our next step would be booking another meeting before we wrap up today. Usually there are more people from your side and more people from my side that we’d want to invite to that meeting. Sound fair to you?

Notice at the end of both there’s a question back to the prospect to confirm if they are comfortable with that outcome. This is a “skin in the game” moment for your prospect and an opportunity for you to create rapport by opening up their mind to that next step with a gentle question. Not getting agreement from your prospect on that next step is a rapport killer.

The more friction in your sales process the harder you’ll work to close even the simplest of deals. Your prospects create friction by throwing up roadblocks in the form of stalls or objections.

Roadblocks indicate a lack of rapport (trust). Because your initial conversation and/or first minutes of an initial meeting are a low trust environment (all your prospect knows is they are speaking with a salesperson who they have been trained to believe is just after their wallet) your prospects tend to throw up many roadblocks.

When your prospect throws up a roadblock you’ll lose if you attempt to defend your way around it. Instead use an “expertise” statement followed by a clarifying question to determine if that roadblock is made of two-by-fours or concrete.

  • Prospect – price will be a major factor in our decision.
  • Salesperson – it always is. What besides price will factor in to who you select?
  • Prospect – service is of the utmost importance to us.
  • Salesperson – I hear that a lot. Help me understand what “service” means to you. It’s different for everyone I speak with.

“It always is” and “I hear that a lot” are expertise statements that imply to your prospect, at a psychological level, that you are an expert without you diving into a features-and-benefits presentation on your years of experience and/or industry awards.

The key to successfully delivering an expertise statement is your tonality and body language. If your tone and body language is dismissive, haughty or condescending you’ll kill rapport with your prospect and probably your sale. It doesn’t matter what you say it matters what your prospect thinks you said. Practice expertise statements so you deliver them gently and nurturingly and your prospect will be open to answering your clarifying question.

As you develop your skills in taking away anxiety and friction from your prospects your sales cycles will be smoother and you’ll burn less mental and emotional energy.

Until next time… go sell something.

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