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Do you have one of those businesses where you avoid human contact, do almost nothing all day and collect payments in your digital accounts? I had one of those. But, unfortunately, it was in a dream.
But once the hypothalamus released a dose of acetylcholine into my brain, I was awake and back to work. Chop chop.
The life of the entrepreneur is exciting but, for many, success depends on high-pressure sales conversations conducted one-on-one, over the phone, live and in-person or face-to-face in cyberspace.
All the research, phone tag and countless emails come to a crescendo in one all-important, gladiatorial exchange of words. It’s enough to give a person anxiety, night sweats and possibly hives. For personality types Psychology Today calls “Pressure Avoiders,” the threat of failure is even more serious.
Mix the mind-bending demand of sales and the fear of failure, and you have yourself the entrepreneur’s pressure cooker lifestyle.
There’s great frustration in leaving a sales call and not knowing what went wrong. You had the answers, but you’re unsure why you couldn’t deliver them convincingly. You felt out of control, as if you were desperately selling an idea instead of calmly helping a friend solve a problem.
Related: How to Pleasantly Surprise Prospects on a Sales Call
Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were guidelines to help make this experience simple and almost always successful? Here you’ll find a process, developed over a couple of decades, to help you do just that.
Eliminate the cheesy sales talk
“So, you’re a fan of the Dodgers, huh?”
If that’s a genuine conversation starter and it makes sense in context, then, by all means, ask. But if it’s a ploy to soften your target, then leave it out. People are wise to cheesy sales strategies. Just talk to them like regular people and find out the problem.
Your own experience will reveal why the “just be real” approach is more effective. For example, when a salesperson is over eager to convert you as a friend, it tends to send you quickly in the other direction.
Don’t blurt out a price too soon
Suppose you were in the market for a 1963 Chevy Impala and your spending cap was $25,000. But suppose you found one that was appraised at $65,000? Would you be willing to spend $10,000 more on the higher-priced option?
You don’t usually know what you’ll pay until you understand the real value to you.
It’s common for inquirers to insist on prices upfront, but your task as an entrepreneur is to first establish, in their mind, the true value to them. Do they yet know how your service will ease their pain and change their lives?
Simply request permission to ask a few questions first.
Ask and listen
And listen even more. The entrepreneur who dominates the conversation is more likely to hear, “Ok, great. I’ll get back to you.” Instead, see yourself as the doctor and your client as the patient.
In his Harvard Business Review article, “Calculate Your Talk-Listen Ratio,” Jack Springman offers a helpful reminder that the amount of time spent listening reflects how much importance you place on the customer’s needs.
That’s certain to come across as a positive influence and it offers a more significant opportunity for the one talking to open up further about their pain point.
Offer a diagnosis
After inquiring, listening and understanding, you’ll be ready to respond with solutions based on what your customer just told you and not based on what you have the sell. The difference is tremendous. Through empathy and patience, you are equipped to offer help in a way that reflects the actual situation. This approach can only cast you in a more favorable light.
Related: How to Increase Your Conversion Rates With an Irresistible Offer
Make an offer
Once the probable solutions have been discussed, your service will be perceived at a greater value than your proposed price. That might be worth a reread. Imagine, for a minute, how your position in the sales process here is elevated over prematurely quoting a price with little information.
Yes, this would be an excellent time to ask for the sale.
Did you close? Great. If not, simply take control of the next step. Never leave the prospect with the ball. Instead, state clearly your plan of action and follow up appropriately.
As you part ways, you’ve developed mutual respect and added to your ever-growing pipeline. This kind of exchange leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and expectation. No more second-guessing and wondering what went wrong. No more hoping you get another chance.
Outline the questions you will ask and your statements to follow this process from beginning to end. Commit it to paper to use each time you conduct a call. Then, refine it with each experience.
Soon you’ll have a process that’s strategic yet flowing as a casual conversation. This will be your blueprint, a sort of shortcut to the perfect sales call.
It’s about confidence. It’s about the dignity of owning the power to communicate your value effectively. It’s about providing a product or service and generating a substantial income as a result.
I can’t say it’s as easy as doing nothing all day and receiving deposits, but I can say it feels extremely rewarding.