By Keith Rosen, MCC
The Executive Sales Coach™
Whether it’s in regard to our sales efforts, during a discussion with our boss, or when trying to uncover ways to best manage our team, certain assumptions can dramatically affect the results we seek to achieve. This is especially true for conversations.
When clients ask for help in closing more sales, I ask them to list the objections they hear that prevent the sale. It’s when they start stumbling over their response that I ask, “Are these the objections you are hearing directly from your prospects or what you’re assuming as the reason why they don’t buy?”
Rather than uncovering the real barrier to the sale, assuming where the objection lies becomes a detrimental process that spreads like a virus throughout every sales call. These assumptions are not based on fact but rather the salesperson’s assumption of the truth.
Salespeople often fall into this trap when creating solutions for their prospects. During a conversation with a prospect, they uncover a similar situation or problem that they have handled with a previous client. So they assume that the same solution will fit this prospect as well.
The problem arises when the salesperson fails to invest the time to go beyond the obvious and to explore the prospect’s specific objectives or concerns.
Thinking they “know” this prospect, the salesperson provides them with the benefits of his service that he perceives to be important, without considering the prospect’s particular needs.
The next time you’re speaking with your boss, your family, your employees, or a prospect, rather than making assumptions about an objection, a motivation, an experience, or a desire, follow these suggestions to create more selling opportunities:
1. Identify the Knowledge Gap
The knowledge gap is the distance between what people know and what they don’t know. Instead of assuming what they know, determine what they need and want to learn in order to fill in this gap and ensure clear communication. What may seem old or common to you may be new to them. Use questions up front to uncover what’s needed to fill in the gap. Example: “Just so I don’t sound repetitive, how familiar are you with ___?”
2. Be Curious
Question everything! Since you’re in the business of providing solutions, invest the time to uncover the person’s specific need or problem, as opposed to providing common solutions that you assume fit for everyone. For example, the words frustrated, successful, affordable, reliable and quality can be interpreted in a variety of ways and often carry a different meaning for each of us.
When you hear a prospect make a comment like “I want a quality product that will give me the results I want at an affordable price,” use this as an opportunity to explore deeper into what they want or need most. Ask “What type of results are you looking for?” and “What is affordable to you?” Questions such as these allow you to clarify what you heard and to dig more deeply into a topic in order to clarify meaning.
Make each prospect feel that they are truly being listened to and understood. Use a clarifier when responding to what you’ve heard during the conversation. Rephrase in your own words what they have said to ensure that you not only heard but also understood them. Then, confirm the next course of action. Examples: “What I’m hearing you say is…” “Tell me more about that.” “What do you see as the next step?”
4. Just the Facts, Please
“I told a prospect that I’d follow up within a week. Two weeks later, I figured that I missed my chance and that they went with someone else.” Sound familiar? Effective salespeople don’t guess themselves into a sale. To ensure that you’re operating with the facts, ask yourself this, “Do I have evidence to support my assumption or how I’m feeling?” Enjoy the peace of mind that comes from gaining clarity rather than drowning in the stories that you believe are true.
5. Recall Your Learning Curve
Think back to your first day on the job and the time it took for you to learn a new skill set. Chances are, you’ve probably experienced some frustration during the learning process. After all, at one point all of the knowledge was new to you. The same holds true for the people with whom you come in contact. Support others by being empathetic throughout their learning curve.
Recognize that learning and wisdom are results of experience. You’re more knowledgeable than you think, so don’t assume that your sense is common. You’ll notice that many communication breakdowns will immediately be eradicated.
Eliminating these costly assumptions will enable you to make better decisions and prevent the communication failures that act as barriers to desired results, such as more sales. Once this knowledge gap has been closed, you’ll experience fewer problems and recognize greater opportunities that clearly make sense.
About Keith Rosen, MCC — The Executive Sales Coach
Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top corporations, executives, and sales professionals call first. As an engaging speaker, Master Coach, and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on coaching people to achieve positive change in their attitude, behavior, and results. For his work as a pioneer and leader in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country.
If you’re ready for better results quickly, contact Keith about personal or team coaching and training at 1-888-262-2450 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Keith Rosen online at Profit Builders and be sure to sign up for his free newsletter The Winners Path.