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.

THE 10-TOUCHSTONE SALES CONVERSATION
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.

WHAT YOU GET
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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THE 4 BEST WAYS TO CLEAR OBJECTIONS

yeah but“Yeah, buts,” otherwise known as objections, are all the reasons that people give for not being willing or able to buy now. As you know if you’ve been selling more than a few hours, the list is endless:

* “Yeah, but I don’t have the money.”
* “Yeah, coaching sounds great, but I’m too busy right now.”
* “Yeah, but we’re reorganizing. I’ll get back to you.”
* “Yeah, but I’m getting my nails done that day.”

“Yeah, buts” can be garden variety or exotic, true or false, about time, money, or somebody else having to make the decision—but most of them call on us to start breathing again and find a way to let them roll off our backs.

Our first task is to develop some compassion for the people voicing the objections. None of the solutions work when we have steam coming out of our ears.

THE KEYS TO COMPASSION

  • Remember that surfacing people’s objections is a good thing! Otherwise, all those “Yeah, buts” go underground and fester. They keep people stuck and prevent them from buying.
  • Don’t subject objections to the truth test. They rarely pass it, and conducting the test only makes everyone unhappy. People may or may not have “no money” right now, but it won’t help to start shouting, “Liar, liar! Pants on fire!”
  • Take a breath. Frustration and irritation are natural responses, especially when we know the objections aren’t true.
  • Don’t take the “Yeah, buts” personally. It’s almost never about us.
  • Keep in mind the many very human reasons that people say, “Yeah, but,” some of which are: They have genuine concerns and really may not have the time or money. They need to say it’s too expensive or time-consuming so that they don’t seem (to others or to themselves) like a frivolous person or a spend-thrift. They really don’t want what we’re offering and are just trying to be polite.

THE 4 KEYS TO CLEARING OBJECTIONS
Clearing an objections means that people get beyond it and buy. They go from having no money at all to, “Well, I suppose I could ask Uncle Albert for the money,” or “I do have that ‘rainy day’ account,” or “I guess I could switch some things around.”

Here are 4 good ways to support people in going beyond their objections:

1. Don’t try to argue them out of their “Yeah, but.” This only gives them something to resist and makes the objection “stick.” Imagine if somebody said to you, “Oh, come on. I know you really have the money.” I’d want to dig in my heels, and that’s what most people do.

2. Make them feel heard. The way to do this is by really hearing them. Sometimes all people need is for someone to hear that they have a concern about buying. The minute that happens, they are over it and no longer cling to the objection. If they keep repeating themselves, it is a clue that they don’t feel heard.

3. Don’t get hooked. Understand that their objection is of concern to them, but don’t jump to the conclusion that it is true, or that it will prevent them from buying. Just be a listening post, without making any decisions. Respect their concerns—but don’t go down the garden path with them without making further inquiries.

4. Give them a choice. You might say something like, “I understand that money is at a premium right now, and you have to choose carefully where you invest it. So let’s look again at whether or not this is worth it to you. You told me that you want from what I’m offering is (whatever they told you they wanted). On the other hand, it costs (whatever financial or time-based cost they mentioned). Let’s put these two things on an imaginary scale and see what you really want to do.” The person feels heard. You respect that there is a decision to be made here, and you’ve clarified what the choice is.

By taking these 4 steps, and by putting the value and the cost on the imaginary scale, we can hear and validate the “Yeah, but” without swallowing it whole. We make it a little more objective for both of us. They have the objection, and they’ll either move beyond it or not. It’s up to them, not to us, and we don’t have to take it personally if they don’t buy. We’ve given them the best chance we can to say “Yes,” and that’s all we can do.

Letting the “Yeah, buts” roll off our backs helps us continue to appreciate people—and helps them see the objection as an objection, not necessarily as a reason not to buy.

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“THE SCALE” TAKES THE STING OUT OF OBJECTIONS

Scales of Justice“I’d love to work with you, but I have NO money!”
“What you do sounds great, but I just have NO time.”

YIKES!
When I hear these words, I sometimes just want to turn on my heel and walk away—but then I remember my own advice:
1.    Everyone with whom I speak deserves my respect, honor, and appreciation.
2.    Let people know that I have truly heard their objections, but don’t necessarily swallow those objections whole.
3.    Use THE SCALE. It takes the sting out of objections.

Using The Scale turns the raging tiger of my impatience into sweet little orange tabby kittens, like my guys Frankie and Flynnie.

Frankie and Flynnie

Frankie and Flynnie

But first, I have to wake up, be present, and reach down inside myself for some generosity of spirit. Doing that may not be what was on my agenda for this morning, but that’s what’s on my plate.

WHAT TO DO WITH OBJECTIONS
First, I need to hear them. Not just with my ears, but with my heart. Maybe these people simply: [Read more…]

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Selling Alchemy: 3 Ways to Dissolve the “Yeah, buts…”

Your sales conversation is going well–and then you hear those two little words: “Yeah, but…” Usually followed by: “I don’t have the money” or “I don’t have the time.”

What do you do? Yell, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!?” Give up, hang up, or turn away? Offer them a dollar from your wallet?

Of course not. This is not the end of the sales conversation. It’s the beginning of a new conversation that can be even more productive, and probably more profitable, than one without “objections.”

LET THE DISSOLVING BEGIN!
Try these 3 steps to dissolve the “Yeah, buts” and keep a warm, open connection with your potential customers: [Read more…]

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