This is the most important part of any sales conversation—and one of the most neglected.
What is the sweet spot where your offer touches people’s deepest wants and needs? If they were to accept, what would they want to get out of the experience?
AN INSIDE JOB
Make no mistake. What people want is an experience, an internal feeling of being safer, better, healthier, more fulfilled, or more connected to and of service to others. The more conscious you can help them be of the specific experience they want as a result of accepting your offer, the more willing they will be to overcome their objections, buy, truly appreciate your product or service, and recommend it to others.
If you offer bookkeeping services, for example, people’s sweet spots might range from:
- I told my partner I’d hire someone and I want to stop the nagging.
- I’m sick of not knowing exactly where the money is and how much we have.
- Every business needs a bookkeeper and I’m trying to do the right thing by my business.
- I will feel so at peace if I know this part of the business is being handled by somebody who knows what they’re doing. Then I could let go of it and focus on the big picture.
The deeper the personal experience (the farther down in the above list) you can get, the stronger your sweet spot will be. The sweet spot might include all of the above, one or two items—or there might not even be a sweet spot if your service and your customer’s needs don’t share some common ground.
Your job is to help him or her identify where that sweet spot is, if anywhere—and to get him or her as far down on the list as possible, as close as possible to a heartfelt, or even primal, need or want.
Both you and your customer need to know exactly where their sweet spit is for five main reasons:
- You need to know whether or not there is a match between what they want and what you have. If not, you can both be on your way—or just go for coffee.
- They need to hear themselves say it. More often than you can imagine, people have an instinct toward an offer—but because they can’t specifically define (to themselves or others) exactly what they want it to do for them, they either give in to whatever objections arise or say to themselves, “This is frivolous. I don’t have a good reason to buy this.” Oddly, very few people actually ask themselves, “What would I want to get out of this if I bought it?” But when you ask the question, their answer is almost always remarkably quick and clear. Without this information, any little thing can throw them off the sale. When they hear themselves say what they want, everything gets more clearly defined and they move closer to the sale. If they are ready to buy, it gives them the green light to go ahead. If they are undecided, it gives more weight to “buy” than to “don’t buy.” Even after they have bought, they are usually happier if they know precisely what need has been satisfied.
- If they start wavering, you need to know where to return. When people voice their objections, you will hear them. But at some point, you will turn the conversation back to the value that your offer holds for them. You need to know where that sweet spot is.
- They need some value to weight against what it costs them. They need a vivid picture of what they want, so that they can put it on the other side of the imaginary scale from their objections.
HOW TO ASK: The Power of the Hypothetical
Sometimes I think people lapse into a light trance when they are considering buying. They seem to enter a netherworld where it may not even occur to them to think about what they want from your product or service. You can snap them out of that trance, and keep both of you on track, by asking questions like these:
- If you were to do this workshop, what might you want to get out of it?
- What would you like a computer to do for you?
- What are the advantages to you of the sedan over the coupe?
- Your eyes light up when you talk about the ﬁve-day program. What do you see as the value there?
These are crucial questions, but you need to ask them gently. Soften your energy and use qualiﬁers like “might,” “would,” and “if.” That makes the question hypothetical, and hypothetical questions are safer. You are looking together at a range of possibilities, all of which are at some distance, rather than pressing them into what they might perceive as a semi-commitment.
Here is how it works. Consider these two questions:
- If you were to do this, what might you want from it?
- What need of yours will this satisfy?
You are asking for the same information in these two questions, but you are much more likely to get it from the ﬁrst one. The ﬁrst question is safer, and therefore easier for them to answer.
That’s the key with this touchstone: Be gentle and non-confrontational, but make sure they are crystal clear about what they want your offer to do for them. Be sure you’ve done this before you go on to Touchstone #5, popping the question!