You hear about disruptions in industry, in technology, in art. Something or someone comes along and makes the world change suddenly, seemingly overnight.
Well, there are turmoil in sales calls as well. Questions, actions, and behaviors that have the power to change the conversation and how the customer sees you.
LDK Head of Consulting and Sales Psychology evangelist Anita Nielsen focuses on helping salespeople create more of those moments—even early on the first call. This can be done in a few simple terms.
“It causes a pattern disturbance,” Nielsen said. “People are accustomed to a certain way of thinking when speaking with a salesperson. These statements force them to change their perception of you.”
Nielsen warns – these statements, in emptiness, are not enough. You have to be a good listener. And even then, you must have the right intentions.
“You really have to help your clients,” she said. “If you honestly don’t want to help your customer succeed, please just get out of the sales.”
If you really want to help your customers and are a good listener, these three phrases can disrupt that first sales call. They will shift the potential customer’s thinking from “This is just another salesperson” to “This person cares and is someone I should listen to.”
1. “Help me understand…”
Nielsen recommends starting with this phrase. Examples of how to use them Help me understand your IT priorities, help me understand your biggest marketing challenge right now, help me understand what your current tech suite looks like, etc.
Why do you ask this question?
“It shows them you’re here to hear them, rather than showing up and vomiting,” Nielsen said.
Meaning, you’re not just giving your customer the same sales pitch you’ve given a million times before. Instead, you are looking to understand why they are talking to you and how your solution can help them.
What reaction does this phrase usually get?
“When you ask such a question and show that you are willing to listen, a potential customer is not going to try to tell you what you want to hear,” Nielsen said. “They will not just talk to you. Instead, they will explain something to you, and they will tell you what really matters the business.”
Once you understand what’s important, it makes it much easier to structure a solution that fits their needs. And then, you happen to be that strategic partner, not just another salesperson.
2. “Sorry, I did not understand that.”
People assume that salespeople will never admit they didn’t know, didn’t pay attention, or missed something. People also assume that sales professionals don’t listen. This is part of the stereotype of salespeople that has been ingrained in the minds of many potential customers.
Which is exactly why this phrase is so powerful, said Nielsen. By admitting that you didn’t get something, or you missed something, you break that stereotype and change the dynamic.
“There is always a pause when you say this,” Nielsen said. “Because that’s not what (the prospect) expects. You show yourself as someone who wants to be understood and served.”
A huge and massive caveat with this phrase – if you read this article, and then said it simply because you thought it would create this moment, it wouldn’t work. “People will know you’re sneaky, not selling,” Nielsen said.
You should actively listen to what the potential customer is saying. If you missed something or didn’t understand something, that’s okay to say – people will respect you more for admitting it and will take the time to reconsider their point of view for you.
Conversely, if you pretend to know something you don’t know, or fake that you were listening to it when you didn’t, prospects can see through. These behaviors will make you classed as just another shady salesperson promoting their product.
3. “What matters to you is what matters most to me.”
As early as the first sales call, you should focus on understanding the customer’s problem. Oftentimes, they will walk away from their business challenges, after which they will expect to give a presentation.
Before you get to that ballpark, stop, said Nielsen, and say this.
She said, “You’re telling them, ‘I don’t care about using my promotion to sell you. I’m interested in helping you win.'”
Additionally, if it is not yet clear why something is important to them, using this question gives you permission to ask them why it is important to them personally.
Perhaps they are under pressure from their boss to get it done, or perhaps their reward hinges on their decision, or perhaps they are motivated to do something new and innovative. a lot of things can It matters, but you can only differentiate the things that actually do.
When you ask what they care about, personally, you’ll get a more accurate answer than the usual business talk that most buyers rely on. The conversation sparked by this simple question will lead to a much stronger connection between you and the potential client.
The takeaway – simply by being curious and honest, you will stand out.
These phrases, if used correctly, Nielsen said, can make all the difference on that first sales call. But it must come from the heart, and you must be legitimately interested in the answers they elicit.
“Loyalty is critical,” Nielsen said. “If it looks like a text, you’re not getting anywhere.”
Here’s the main point – on your first sales call, a potential customer expects things to go a certain way. They expect you, as a salesperson, to ask a few questions, pretend to listen, and then walk off the field.
You can disable this simply by genuinely caring and listening carefully. Be curious, ask solid questions, admit when you don’t know something, and do your best to understand why this person is really interested in the purchase they want to make.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, very few salespeople do these simple things. This is exactly why sales professionals who embrace these ideas will differentiate themselves in a way that can create lifelong customers.
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