Written by Hamish Knox; President of Sandler in Calgary, Canada
Creating accountable, sales focused organizations in Calgary
Salespeople unintentionally put too much pressure on themselves and their prospects in meetings by wasting too much time on personal banter.
Yes, it’s important to create rapport with a prospect, but at some point while the salesperson and their prospect are talking about their families/pets/holidays/favourite teams/last movie they saw the salesperson will think “oh shit! We’re 20 minutes into the 45 minutes we had scheduled for this meeting and we haven’t touched our agenda! I’d better get selling!”
If we were watching this meeting we would see when the “oh shit” moment happened because there would be a change in the salesperson’s physiology and tonality. The former would tighten up and the latter would shift from congenial “nice guy” to “pushy salesperson.”
Humans are emotional sponges. Walk through an airport and see stressed out anxious parents with stressed out anxious children. The children don’t start out stressed and anxious. They absorb those emotions from their parents.
When the “oh shit” moment happens the prospect senses a change in the salesperson’s emotional state (the salesperson feels pressured to fit a 45 minute meeting into 25 minutes) so the prospect gets nervous because rapport (trust) isn’t built and all of the common headtrash prospects have about salespeople (pushy, going to make me buy something I don’t want/need, going to overcharge, etc.) fills the space in their brain that was being used to create rapport with the salesperson.
End result is this meeting probably goes to the 45 minutes set, but ends unsatisfactorily for both the prospect, who feels like they wasted their time with another “high pressure” salesperson, and for the salesperson, who feels confused that a meeting that “started great” ended with “yeah, let me think about it. You can call me in two weeks.”
Avoiding the “oh shit” moment and the unsatisfactory ending to this meeting takes one small shift – save the personal banter for the end of your meeting.
So that might not be a “small” step for some salespeople. To start down this path internalize these two attitudes (mindsets) – 1) (especially in a B2B context) no one invites a salesperson in unless they have a reason and 2) business people bond by getting down to business.
The next step along this path is to have a clear agenda set prior to the start of your meeting, what Sandler clients know as an “Up Front Contract.” By setting the agenda in advance, which includes the reason why your prospect invited you in, you can circle back to it if/when your prospect wants to spend most of your meeting time on personal banter.
That might sound like, “Prospect, thanks for telling me about your recent holiday. When we set up this meeting you shared that you wanted to talk about this, this and this to make the meeting a good use of your time. My fear is we might not have time to address all of those. Would you be okay with covering our agenda first and chatting about our holidays towards the end of our meeting?”
What doesn’t come through in text is the gentle, nurturing tonality that you must deliver that phrase with or you’ll break rapport with your prospects.
Some of my clients shared with me that when they say something like what is suggested above they see their prospect visibly relax! When true rapport is achieved both prospect and salesperson are relaxed because they “buyer/seller wall” is down.
If you know a salesperson who tends to spend most of their meetings on personal banter suggest to them that they trap themselves into focusing on the business portion of their meeting first by asking their prospect to hold them accountable to their agenda. Might sound like, “Prospect, look forward to seeing you next Tuesday. Would you help me out with something at our meeting? Great, sometimes I find that I spend too much time catching up personally and unintentionally neglect our agenda. Are you comfortable with addressing our agenda first and catching up personally towards the end of our 45 minutes? Thank you”
It probably feels uncomfortable thinking about saying something like that to a prospect. Good that means it’s a growth opportunity for you. Being vulnerable with your prospect enhances rapport.
Differentiate yourself based on how you sell not what you sell. Flip the personal banter to the end of your meetings and you’ll be more satisfied with the outcomes of your meetings.
Until next time… go sell something.
Upcoming Sandler Free Webast
Communication with Skill for Positive Outcomes
When: Tuesday August 14, 2018
Time: 12.00PM MT
Sandler Training is pleased to present its Communicating with Skill for Positive Outcomes webcast on August 14th at 12 PM MT. The host, Mike Montague, and featured Sandler trainer David Hiatt will reveal the powerful communication tactics business leaders around the world need to deploy.
From the Board Room to the Living Room, relating to people is an important skill.
Designed for Salespeople & Leaders
In this educational webinar you’ll learn:
- How to improve relationships, deepen conversations, move past drama and games and achieve more positive outcomes in the workplace – and at home.
- How to master the art of mutual agreement as you ask better questions and become a better listener
Mastering effective communication is a lifelong process but, at any point in time, there is room for improvement for even the most accomplished communicators.
Free online event. Limited Seating.
BONUS: Registrants will be sent a complimentary digital sample chapter of From the Board Room to the Living Room via email.