Archives for October 2013

MAKE THE CONNECTION: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #3

connectionTouchstones #1 and #2 are internal. We see people’s value and continue to relate with them on that basis—regardless of their objections, and whether or not they buy.  Touchstone #3 takes us out of our own attitudes and thoughts. We reach out and make the connection with people. This connection happens on an energetic level. When it clicks in, we relax and smile, at least internally—and so does the other person. We can both feel it.

Our connection with the other person may happen with a handshake, a smile, a nod, a brief greeting, or a general comment about the day, the store, or the person who introduced us. It can be all of these things, or none of them. We can have the handshake , the nod, even the same grandmother—and still not have the connection. These gestures may reflect the connection, but they don’t necessarily cause it.

The connection comes from within us, and it usually occurs naturally as we see value in the other person. When people treat you in a respectful and honoring way, don’t you usually react well and feel connected with them? When we reach out energetically to the other person, seeing the best in them and extending ourselves in some physical way, the connection almost always happens.   We know when we have it, and when we don’t.

When we truly connect with someone, we usually feel a “ping.” That “ping” feels different for each of us. Sometimes the connection just “registers” for us and for the other person. We know it’s there. We can often see the other person’s face or demeanor shift slightly when the connection clicks in. It’s almost as if we are figuratively standing beside them with our arm around their shoulder, looking together at what we are offering. We’re on the same team, with a common goal to determine whether or not our offer is right for them.

I don’t want to make this more complicated than it is, but one of the most common mistakes people make is launching into a sales presentation before the connection has been made. They get so excited about their offer, or so anxious to make the sale, that they jump ahead of themselves. They’re off down the toboggan slope, but they don’t have the other person in the sled with them.

For more on making this connection, check out The Soul of Selling on Kindle or at my Soul of Selling site.

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HOLD PEOPLE’S VALUE: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #2

#2The 10-Touchstone Honoring Sales Conversation is the basis of the Soul of Selling Method. It’s a simple, easy way to make sure that we respect and appreciate people as we talk with them about our offer, find out what they would want from it if they bought, hear their objections, and close the sale.

This week we highlight Touchstone #2, Make the value you see in people the foundation of your conversation, whether or not they buy. This means that we continue to see in them the values we identified in Touchstone #1—courage, openness, good intentions, etc.—throughout the whole conversation, regardless of how they behave and even if they don’t buy.

The answer is compassion. Buying can be as uncomfortable as selling is. People aren’t always at their best when they show up to consider buying. They can get defensive, sullen, or even belligerent. Remember, they probably have at least as much baggage about buying and selling as we did. However, the chances of their having done Soul of Selling Step #1—Put down your baggage—are slim to none. And Slim just left town. Most likely, negative chatter about selling (and those who do it!) is still roaming free in their minds.

Our first impulse may be to strike back, but we know that this usually produces a bad result—and almost inevitably, that result is not a sale.

Paradoxically, our best antidote to their negative chatter is to honor and appreciate them. We don’t even have to say anything. In fact, engaging them in a discussion about how unaffected we are by their mental chatter would probably be counterproductive. Instead, we simply “be” the honor and appreciation. We just watch the mental chatter scamper around and around on the hamster wheel in their minds, and continue to see the best in them.

The worst thing that can happen is that they walk away shaking their heads about what an unusual encounter they had with us.

People are sometimes afraid that this touchstone will make them all gushy, squishy, or placating, and cause them to lose their edge. Exactly the opposite is true.

First of all, it doesn’t honor people to get all gushy, squishy, or placating. Touchstone #2 is not about flattery; it’s about standing clearly and confidently, even quietly, in the knowledge that people are valuable human beings—and that they remain so, regardless of whether or not they buy.

Far from making the presentation too soft, Touchstone #2 gives it depth.

Most conversations will be very pleasant, but Touchstone #2 does wonders when we run into people who may argue about the value of our product or service, or who tell us we’re not doing a very good job of presenting it. People usually calm down when we simply hear what they say without reacting and continue to see the best in them. If they don’t, we can always end the conversation respectfully and leave.

In any case, making the value we see in them the foundation of the conversation ensures that we’ve done our best and acted with honor. And the most likely outcome is that we experience a wonderful connection.

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SEE PEOPLE’S VALUE: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #1

see peoples valueThe 10-Touchstone Honoring Sales Conversation is the foundation of The Soul of Selling Method. It makes sure that you bring everything you have to the table, and that you treat people with respect and appreciation. It gives you a map from Point A and Point B—from “hello” to a clear decision whether or not to buy, made in a supportive, honoring environment that you create.

Today we look at Touchstone #1, See people’s value.

The Soul of Selling is based on the belief that every human being deserves to be respected, honored  and appreciated. It assumes that positive qualities such as love, courage, wisdom and good intentions  exist in all of us—however obscured they may be at any given moment by fear or stress, and by whatever questionable behavior these discomforts may trigger.

You may or may not know the specific people with whom you’ll be talking, but you do know that they will be human beings in whom these qualities exist, regardless of how they feel or how they behave when you speak with them. This touchstone asks you to see those good qualities, and to focus on them no matter what people say or do, and whether or not they buy. It asks you to look beyond the fear or stress and intentionally call forth your appreciation.

Paradoxically, the more you hold this high ground for them, the better their behavior is likely to be.

We’re all human.  When people don’t do what we want them to do, sometimes we want to pitch a fit. As sellers, we want people to buy. No matter how much we see the good in them, we would still rather they bought what we are offering. If they don’t buy, or even if they hesitate, the mental chatter can get loud. Fortunately, our good instincts are just as strong, and just as loud.

Sometimes I feel as if I have a little devil on one shoulder mouthing all the mental chatter, and a little angel on the other shoulder holding tight to Touchstone #1. As loud as the devil gets, the angel wants just as much to appreciate and connect with other people. These two little cartoon characters are probably sitting on my shoulder all the time, but both of their voices get louder when I sell. Somebody has to step in and referee the situation.  That somebody is me. And you, the mature person who—just for the duration of the Honoring Sales Conversation—is willing to be the adult, to take a stand for the good and to serve whoever is before you.

The little devil might say, “Jeez, I’ve see this kind of woman a million times and they never buy. She’s gonna take all my time and energy, and then walk away. It happens every time!”

The little angel perks up and says, “Hey, give her a break. What do you know from just looking at her? How about assuming she’s just a little shy or scared? How about appreciating her enough to make this situation less intimidating for her? Give her a fighting chance to buy.”

“Yeah, but that’s not true and you know it,” the little devil pipes up defensively.

“Oh, c’mon. What can you appreciate about her? You’re just helping yourself. You’ll have a better chance for the sale, you’ll feel better about yourself, and so will she if you come at this positively.”

If you don’t let the little angel win, you are in for a frustrating life in sales. I’m not saying the angel has to win all the time, in every aspect of your life. My little angel almost never wins where apple fritters are concerned. But you must let that angel win when you are conducting the Honoring Sales Conversation. That’s your covenant with the Soul of Selling.

When you have this touchstone in place and are seeing people’s value, everything that follows is easier and more pleasant. You know you are behaving well, and that feels good. A person who is being honored, respected, and appreciated is also more likely to behave well—so you are much more likely to enjoy the conversation.

Touchstone #1, See people’s value, sets the tone for your entire Honoring Sales Conversation.

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The 10 ESSENTIAL STEPS in an Honoring Sales Conversation

10How do you start, sustain, and close a sales conversation so that everyone feels good about it—and you know whether or not people will buy?

Many of the popular roadmaps for this conversation are based on trapping or manipulating potential buyers into saying “Yes,” which is why so many service-oriented sellers reject them.

When I developed the Soul of Selling method, I wanted a set of touchstones to include in each sales conversation that kept me on track to:

  • Honor, respect, and appreciate each person with whom I spoke
  • Talk in an inspiring way about what I was offering
  • Hear what people needed to say before they bought
  • Close the sale in a way that made us both feel like winners

After a couple years and hundreds of conversations, I honed it down to these ten touchstones:

1. See people’s value. Don’t wait for people to prove their value to you. Instead, define the specific valuable qualities that you are willing to see in them, regardless of what they say or do. These might include intelligence, vision, openness, diligence, or wanting to help people. As you talk with them, call up these values intentionally and let them live in you.

2. Make this value the foundation of your conversation, whether or not they buy. Even as they voice their concerns, and even if they say “No,” continue to appreciate them. If you catch yourself not relating to them with respect and honor, just go back and do so.

3. Connect with the person. Before you start talking, create a connection with the other person.  There are many ways to do this: genuine warmth, humor, some small thing you say, or even an appreciative silence. You know when you’re connected with people, and when you’re just talking to them.

4. Share your vision. This is where you use your Speaking Bank (Soul of Selling Step #3), weaving together your talking points and delivering them in a way that the other person can hear. This is not so much a speech as it is a conversation about the features and benefits of what you are offering, conducted in the context of your relationship with them. It is delivered out of your passion, whether that is quiet or effusive, and all your attention is on the other person.

5.  Find out the value to them. People need to know exactly what they want from what you are offering, and so do you—because this is where you will return after you’ve heard their objections. If they can’t decide whether or not to buy, they can simply put this value on one side of the scale, and what it will cost them on the other.

6.  Invite them to participate. At some point, you have to pop the question.  You have to take the risk and say some form of, “Would you like to buy this?” Some sellers find this the most uncomfortable moment in the conversation, but most buyers do not. People expect to be asked whether or not they want to buy. In many cases, they’re waiting for it, figuratively tapping their feet so that the conversation can move forward. One reason sellers sometimes dread this moment is that they might hear “No.” That’s just part of selling. If the answer is “No,” then you know where you are and can move on. The trick is not to take it personally. You may also hear “Yes.”

7.  Hear their objections without getting hooked. Popping the question usually brings up any objections that people may have. You’ll hear all the reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t buy—even if they have every intention of buying! “Well, I’d love to buy this but I don’t have the money.” “I’d love to do that, but I just don’t have the time.” People often feel compelled to say they don’t have the time or the money, even when both of you know they’re going to buy. Sometimes it is their way of saying to you (or to themselves) that they aren’t spendthrifts or time-wasters. Your job is to hear them out, and to honor their need to say it—but not to get hooked and collude with them about their limitations. Have compassion, and help them make a good choice.

8.  Take them back to the value. After they’ve had a chance to air their objections, lead them gently back to what they would want from your product or service if they were to buy it. The Soul of Selling offers some very gracious ways to do this, and shows you how to handle circumstances under which it’s better to talk later.

9.  Close the sale. In this part of the conversation, you come to “Yes” or “No.” After the close, you both know whether or not they are going to buy. Again, The Soul of Selling offers many ways to close graciously.

10.  Validate their choice, even if it’s not to participate with you. Let them know that you honor their choice, whatever it is. Stay in relationship with them, and let them walk away feeling better about themselves than they did before the conversation—regardless of what they choose. If they buy, let them know what the next step is or what your next contact will be.

At the end of this conversation, you both feel great. You know whether or not they’re going to buy, and so do they. You’ve honored them, yourself, your product or service and the process of selling. Very quickly, this conversation will become second nature, and one of the joys of your life.

This conversation is the foundation of the Soul of Selling. We will go over each of the ten touchstones in upcoming posts.


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