The exceptional achiever deliberately chooses to ignore talk about the recession, wars and the miserable state of affairs in the world at large; nor do they allow personal distractions to affect them. These individuals choose, instead to focus their attention and expend their precious energy and time on ways to live a productive and successful life.
It makes sense, to me to have a Plan B in every situation. In other words, to plan on your plan going wrong. Sports coaches have a “game plan” and, if things don’t go according to that plan, they have Plan C and Plan D to fall back on.
Any intelligent strategist, military tactician, coach or negotiation specialist, will tell you that ‘fore-warned is fore-armed. And you will be in a far more powerful position, if you are flexible enough to acknowledge that unforeseen problems might occur and take steps to prepare what your next move will be, if they do. Far better this, than simply being reactive when you are faced with a challenge. Reactionary people are not usually highly productive people.
It is pro-active to ‘be prepared’. You can still consider yourself to be a positive person, while accepting the possibility that Murphy’s Law might take effect at any time. Positive thinking isn’t likely to help you overcome rejections, but having a prepared response to those objections definitely will. I mean even the top sales people have a ‘strike rate’. So they too, must learn to cope with rejection. These professional individuals know that it’s just a matter of ‘how many times you swing the bat at the right ball and how well prepared you are with a positive response to an objection, that will determine your success rate.
I don’t subscribe to stepping up to the world’s greatest pitcher time and time again, only to have your self confidence eventually annihilated. What I do advocate is having a plan. Having a strategy to overcome the problem.
YOU CAN DECIDE TO BE THE SALES STRATEGIST AND TACTICIAN. IT’S CALLED THE POSITIVE POWER OF NEGATIVE PREPARATION (RESPONSE).
There is no perfect person, perfect place, perfect product. Just as ‘beauty is on the eye of the beholder’, everything is judged and apportioned value in accordance with the perception of the individual. There will always be a trade-off, at some level. That quite simply means that no matter how fantastic you might think your product is, some-one else may have a string of objections to raise about it. The smartest thing you can do about that, is to get to know your product inside out, with all of it’s attributes and all it’s flaws.
If you are able to see your product objectively and know it intimately, then you will be in the best position to anticipate questions, doubts and fears about it. You will also be informed enough to emphasise it’s compensating features when you are presenting it to your prospective buyer.
Once you have examined your product in every light, from every angle, mentally practise your presentation. As I said before, people attribute value to something according to their own values; their own perception.. Beware of your own ego here. Your ‘logic’ and reasons [for not buying] will not necessarily be the same as the next person’s. It is not possible to anticipate every one of the reasons people will have for not wanting to buy your product.
Instead of being righteous about it, if you practise your presentation skills, you will learn to use objections as building blocks rather than stumbling blocks. I strongly suggest that you even raise likely objections yourself and list them on a white board. You then address each one and use humour where appropriate, to diminish importance. Boldly cross off those objections, which have been resolved and after the last one has been dealt with, erase the lot.
I will go so far as to say that I think you should celebrate people’s reasons for not buying. Why? Because therein lies the opportunity to arm yourself with the positive power of negative response. Your power lies in being prepared with a response. If you are under prepared, you will simply react.
I also feel that the whole notion of “positive thinking” has become something of an enigma. Having the foresight and ability to anticipate problems or an objection is a distinct advantage … not, as some would insist, the result of a negative attitude!
Four Ways We Mentally and Emotionally ‘Respond’ to Objections
By far the worst option of the four, is to react with anger and frustration or resentment, when objections are raised to the product we are selling. Anger is usually counter productive and in the selling situation, all three of these emotions are destructive. The mind becomes clouded and the ability to assess and analyse tends to fly out the window. How well can you apply reason and logic while you are ‘doing your lolly’. . . and how much valuable time will be lost? You could have been finding common ground, instead you’ve become immobilised and dis-empowered by your own emotional state.
You could also react with stubborn, ‘bloody minded’ persistence, which will not usually work in your favour either. You are attempting to make a sale here, aren’t you? There are times when persisting is an admirable and appropriate course of action to take. And there are other times when it is not. Can you be honest enough with yourself to know when to persist and when to back off?
The third way you could choose to react is to take on the role of the victim. It’s not your fault anyway; it’s the client’s fault or circumstances are beyond your control. Blame somebody else!
Or finally, you can look upon your current situation as an opportunity. You can choose to be motivated and enterprising enough to meet these challenges with the quiet power of the tactician. Correct your course and take positive action.
If you really have the courage to examine some of your own self sabotaging ‘reactive’ habits, you will only become empowered by your action. And get creative. Creativity is the mother of discovery and invention. Sit down and write yourself a list of every answer you can think of, to counter each objection that has been raised against your product. Brainstorm and don’t edit your list until you have written down at least 20 responses to each objection.
And don’t just write answers. Write down questions that you can put to your prospective client which also play a dual role. The more you get to know your client, the better equipped you are to satisfy his / her needs and they [the client] will probably answer some of their own questions while they’re answering yours.
Throw yourself a challenge, to be ‘bigger’ than you are. If you feel resentment towards your client because you somehow feel that your destiny is controlled by them, consider this. Everybody is at some level, under some measure of control by somebody else. The leader of a country cannot achieve his or her agenda, without the cooperation of members of their political party. Does that make them weak or lessen their worth?
Think about it. It’s possible your client feels resentment because it seems to them they will not have all their needs met.
Watch a persistent golfer with a bad swing. Tension shows in every part of his body. Even his face is contorted with determined brute force. He steps up to the ball and with an almighty swing, sends it careering into the bushes. What does he do next? Well he swings even harder! And the battered ball flies even further into the bushes. He gives it all he’s got and completely misses the golf ball and practically wraps the golf stick around himself while letting fly a string of expletives to make a wharfie blush!
Trust me when I say, doubling the strength of your swing is not the answer. And responding to your clients fears and doubts by ‘swinging harder’ is not the answer either. If you get caught up in the ‘blame game’…. the client is a twit, the economy is at rock bottom, your parents should have known to guide you in a different direction … you also give away your personal power and your self esteem shrinks.
Accept responsibility and take back your power. You are involved in this interaction with the client because you are the educator. Develop and present a powerful case.
How to Deal With Price Objections
It is true that some products and services have become a commodity. (Bought on price alone). But this is due to the false belief that the product “Will not sell unless it is the cheapest.” If this were true, Domino’s Pizza would have cut all the other Pizza Bars out of business years ago. The big pizza chains rely heavily on the ‘two for one’ deals and discounted pizzas, to generate sales. Unfortunately for them, they have so educated the public, that now people won’t buy unless there is an ‘offer’ made. I think, if asked, these pizza chains would readily admit to being sorry they even started the ‘two for one’ thing.
So how is it that some of the other pizza bars still flourish? Simply, these businesses (wood fired, gourmet, quality ingredient operations) have differentiated themselves from the others.
I was involved in the development of the “Gourmet Pizza Company” in Perth. We were able to charge $21.95 for a family sized Sizzling King Prawn pizza, $18.95 for a Tandoori Chicken pizza and $19.95 for the Works. And we sold heaps! In fact, contrary to what I thought, King Prawn Pizza was the No 1 seller.
I simply do not believe there is a group of people, an industry or a profession, where the decision to buy is based on price alone. I have given this a great deal of thought and observed my own behaviour and that of friends and business clients alike, in relation to buying habits. We all love a bargain, but we also understand value. The only time that the ‘cheapest price’ appears to be the deciding factor, in the purchasing transaction, is when the product involved is a simple commodity and there is no apparent value between one and another.
And here lies the task of the sales professional – to persuasively present their product as having greater value! Emphasise it’s superiority.
Embrace Objections and Make the Sale
From this moment on, I want you to view objections as tantamount to your most powerful strategy and tactic.
I know this is likely to be a major paradigm shift for you, but stay with me here. Most sales people see objections as resistance, something to be feared. And when objections do occur, the sales people are filled with resentment. Instead, look at selling as serving, as a part of the whole process of fulfilling a client’s needs.
I vividly remember Easter mornings , when my children were young. Brightly coloured paper covered eggs, foil wrapped chocolates and those hard candy eggs would be hidden in and under foliage all around the garden and excited children thrilled at the ‘treasure hunt’ to uncover them. “Cold… colder…freezing … warmer, you’re getting warmer. Hot … Very hot!…” Bingo! A veritable Easter bonanza.
What we were really doing was giving navigational ‘clues’ to find the eggs. Was I wrong to give these clues? Of course not! The kids needed my help or they might have been searching all day.
Now, when you are confronted with an objection, think of it not as resistance, but as directions they are giving you. They’re yelling out clues … “Cold – warm – hot!” Trying to let you know how close you’re getting to fulfilling their need. ( to achieving a sale.)
This paradigm shift in the way you see the process of selling, the way you deal with objections, will result in a bright, creative selling process all the way through. I personally, would raise the objections myself (not back away from them in fear). After all, there are usually only four or five, which might come up every time. So prepare a list of the most frequently expressed objections and then deliberately present the solution. Vacuum cleaner salesmen use this tactic every time, as do those selling cookware, with outstanding results. If the prospective client has no objections, he is highly likely to buy.
This selling technique is so amazingly effective, (yet little used) that I would really encourage you to use the whiteboard list technique I spoke of before. I think it’s a great technique so I will reiterate. Write a list of the five most commonly expressed objections you are presented with, on a whiteboard and as you address each one and give your solutions, using humour to diminish importance, boldly cross that objection off the board. When you have ‘killed’ the final one, erase everything from the board. This is a dramatic and impressive demonstration to the client and is highly likely to lead to a sale.
I don’t think you should ever fear a client’s reasons for not buying. Don’t be tempted, though to play Ostrich and hide your head in the sand, hoping that if you can’t see it, it will go away. And again, don’t allow your ego to dictate the terms. People are perfectly entitled to their reasons for not buying.
How to Sell in Tough Times
Now, do I have any specific thoughts about selling when times are tough? Well, if you are to achieve high levels of success in selling, you must be able to get positive results even while circumstances are negative. In just about every area of selling the field will over populate in boom times and thin out in tough times.
The Real Estate industry is a classic example of this. Yet some people stay in the industry year after year, regardless of ‘booms’.
The consistently high performer will get results no matter what the circumstances. I find it’s down to attitude. Some people look for circumstances in a victimised kind of way, to justify their poor results. They celebrate their good days, but in the down times, they have their ‘safety net’ of excuses ready. What they are doing, is giving negative thinking a lot of power simply by spending precious energy and time dreaming up and focusing on their ‘reasons why it won’t or didn’t work’ etc.
Any time you offer your subconscious a choice between two goals, one negative and one positive, you risk it taking on the negative one. Which one do you give the most focus to?
The exceptional achiever deliberately ignores talk about recessions, wars, the miserable state of affairs in the world or in their own lives, doom and gloom and any other subjects that he or she feels detract from their ultimate success. These individuals steer clear of the melodramas of life and concentrate their efforts instead, on matters far more worthy of their precious time and energy. Their ‘batting average’ matters more and it’s here where their focus lies.
I believe the biggest obstacle to successful selling occurs in your own mind. This brings us back to our perception of a refusal to buy being a personal ‘rejection’. Quite simply, in selling, if you constantly feel rejected you cannot achieve exceptional results.
It is also my belief that the number one reason for mediocrity in selling, is that three letter word – EGO! A falsely inflated ego is a vulnerable, fragile thing. If you are the type of person who takes “No” as a personal affront to your very worth, selling will be an exquisitely painful process to you and most people, sensitive or not, will avoid pain at all costs. You will become a master avoider and procrastinator.
If you cannot confront and take steps to resolve the emotional issues that keep you prisoner and sabotage your success, then no amount of sales training will change your results for the better. Many people have wonderful people skills and are natural persuaders, but as long as they continue to equate their self worth with whether or not everybody wants to buy their products, they will set themselves up for a fall.
When someone does not accept an offer I make them, I know it has nothing to do with me as a person. I therefore don’t become emotional about it.
There is another consideration, which you may have overlooked. Many people don’t buy in a hurry because they don’t want to look like an ‘easy sell’ or a ‘push-over’, unsophisticated or impulsive. They are actually concerned about what you think!
And people have different buying styles. Often a person who lives a pressured life style really enjoys having a quiet, uninterrupted browse first, before they buy. These are the same people who automatically say “No thanks, I’m just looking”, when approached by the sales staff in a retail store.
Do these methods work when selling business to business?
It has often been said to me that this form of selling works on consumers (retail store, car sales, vacuum cleaner sales etc.) but what about business to business selling in the case of CEO’s, Lawyers, Purchasing Officers, to top executives? Are these methods appropriate here?
Yes, they are. Talented actor, Wesley Snipes was asked … “Do you consider yourself an actor or a black actor?” His response was “Well when I get out of bed naked in the morning, I am black first, then I go to work and I am an actor.”
So, when your prospect first gets out of bed in the morning, stark naked, he/she is a person – a human being first. Then when he or she goes to work, they are also a CEO, a lawyer, a departmental manager etc. When push comes to shove, there are only two factors (E factors) that will influence the decision maker to purchase … inspire him or her to take action – and these two factors are personal gain, or fear of personal loss.
Note the word ‘personal’. Certainly, there are more bases to be covered than these two factors alone, (saving to the company, faster service, superior quality etc.) but ultimately, the individual is putting some measure of their own personal expertise / reputation on the line.
In the selling process then, some personal risk is that of the purchaser. These personal issues must be addressed.
At the same time, the sales person, must see the advantage in increasing their own value to the company, getting favourable recognition from superiors. Their job will be easier and less likely to be the source of anxiety and aggravation.
And fear of loss is a motivational force to the purchaser. What personal loss might they suffer if they do not take action? Do they fear that a competitor might sell squillions? Will that competitor promote the same product and out-perform your company? Will they lose out on discounts on an introductory offer? Will they be first in their category to use the product? Will the buyer who procrastinates lose a time advantage?
When you understand all this, you will see that … the sale of even the most sophisticated and complex of business products and service backed by innumerable statistical analyses and a profusion of logical facts and figures, will still require the trigger of individual personal emotion, to make it fire!
The Most Powerful Selling Weapon You Will Ever Have Is – Proof Of What You Say Is True!
We are a nation of cynics and justifiably so.
Today, as I write, Mark Waugh and Shane Warne have admitted to accepting a bribe from an illegal book-maker, to supply him with confidential information, while touring India back in 1994.
The ordinary people of Australia, (the same ones you want to sell your product or service to) feel deceived – cheated. It’s a nasty revelation to people across every level of society that such deception can take place behind our backs. I suspect we have not heard the full extent of this story.
Even those whom we ourselves have bestowed with the honour of leading our nations have blatantly abused that great privilege, by lying, cheating and even stealing to the extent that sadly, we have come to expect it. Certainly another story of the misdemeanours and indiscretions of another official or elected leader no longer serves to shock us as deeply as once it would.
Bill Clinton, current President of The United States, and evidently a man who has not seen a lie he wouldn’t tell, faces impeachment for so blatantly lying to the very people who entrusted him with leading them.
Then consider the deeply shameful recent history of the Catholic Church, which has protected some of it’s members exposed as child molesters.
Everywhere we look, we seem to suffer more disillusionment. Big corporations are no exception. Alan Bond, once one of Australia’s favourite sons, respected and admired for his feats in bringing the America’s Cup to our shores, is wasting away in a maximum security prison for defrauding his share-holders. Such giants as IBM, once considered to offer the epitome of life-time job security, is laying off thousands of employees and eliminating jobs world-wide.
I myself, taught my children not to speak to strangers for fear of their safety.
Now why should anyone believe or trust you???
It’s just not good enough to insist that you are a trustworthy, honest person, possessed of too much integrity to even contemplate ripping anybody off! Don’t invest your ego or your self-esteem in the perception of the prospective buyer. Instead, assume that every statement, every claim or promise, every assertion and even every fact, will at best be questioned, at worst disbelieved.
What I am about to reveal to you is the most powerful selling weapon that exists!
Oh, I know that’s a big statement … and I wholeheartedly believe it! In fact, if my life depended upon one single strategy, this would be it …
PROOF! PROOF THAT WHAT I SAY IS TRUE!!!
If you can substantiate your sales presentation as thoroughly as a top prosecutor or defence lawyer will endeavour to substantiate their case, you will be on your way to providing enough proof.
In selling, we prove our case with testimonials, facts, physical demonstrations, guarantees, pictures, references and referrals. The most powerful among these is the testimonial! (See page 7). I personally send or fax at least 30 testimonials to all my prospective clients and I use them prolifically in ads and sales letters. There is a limit to what you can say about yourself and your product without sounding ‘big headed’ and egotistical . . . but when someone else says it, or if you prove your ‘case’ by demonstration, the sale is virtually yours for the taking and, I might add, on your terms.
Consider Jenny Craig, the weight loss company, who hire over weight celebrities to promote their product / service. They use ‘Before’ & ‘After’ photos to prove that you too, “can be slim and healthy if you follow our diet plan”. (See opposite).
Can you see the power of these two tactics I have shared with you in this newsletter? I guarantee the correct application of these strategies will double your income in ’99, if you make sale in some shape or form and who doesn’t? Sit down now and make that list of objections and devise a way to prove that what you say is true!
It may be the beginning and catalyst of your best year yet! If you’re still having problems with sales, then call me, but don’t call me if you’re not committed to changing the selling process to a process where you or your sales people are welcomed as guests – not uninvited pests.