Gee, there are a lot of articles around on selling at the moment. I wonder if people who bake, design buildings or make porn are as inundated as sales people with 1001 ideas that will guarantee them success.
According to the sage advice we should challenge but be empathic, smile a lot, use the CRM, target whales, strategise, post stuff online, tweet, fill the account plan and present like a TED Talker all before lunch time on Wednesday and then if that doesn’t work, cut the arse out of the price at quarter’s end, go home and do a combined yoga/pilates/mindfulness course whilst listening to Sia.
How about we just have a conversation with clients without an agenda? …they will love you for it.
Many people talk about being consultative but it’s simply not true. The truth is they want the agenda to be consultative about their special yellow handled widgets.
Others talk of solution selling or challenging the status quo to ‘shake the tree’ and fifteen other vomitous, meaningless cliches that the Sales Jargonator created.
Psychologists don’t have an agenda. The good ones that is, as opposed to the ones in the paper caught on camera horizontal folk dancing with patients.
Psychologists simply want to understand what’s going on at a deep level and they are not looking to steer you into signing up to a three year contract.
They have five times the questioning skills of most sales people. That’s why we coach people with these naturally emotive ways of connecting rather than prescribed agenda based questioning.
Agendas are like the Titanic at the top of the page. They are inflexible, often run by control freaks and are not very good at sidestepping icebergs.
People who go in with an agenda are already leading the client and the client is wary because they’ve seen it all before and they’ll only reveal what they want to reveal and absolutely nothing more.
You can have general topics the client is interested in such as supply chain certainty, cost reduction or revenue growth but that’s it.
Leave the agenda, pitch, slide pack, leading questions and other old school sales habits in the car….in the sun….and let them rot.
A conversation implies that the discussion could go anywhere and you should revel in being the water skier behind the boat going with them,
‘Tell me more, Why , Pausing’ are just three legitimate conversation behaviors among the 15 we coach to establish whether there is a professional gain for both parties.
Notice they are 1-3 words, not convoluted, rambling sales questions.
It won’t be long before the client is asking you lots of questions and you’re on your way.
The nervous bed-wetters out there will no doubt be quite uncomfortable with meetings without agendas because of the control issue (see Low Self Esteem).
They worry that sales people will have a lot of coffee chats with no professional purpose. It must be remembered that most clients today are time poor and they didn’t agree to the meeting because they want to waste time. They want the conversation, just without the self indulgent bits.
You don’t need a 3 hour brainstorm and agenda to ask for a meeting. Just ask or tell them you’ve done some cool stuff in their industry.
When you get there, forget you even mentioned it – they probably have. Then start the psychologist session getting to the stories of your successes only if and when it comes up.
Finally, Face Time is not an App.
Face to Face time with clients is sadly reducing. Partly because of the demands of internal CRM, forecasting and account management but often because it’s easier to email, text, Google and get stuck in front of a screen getting distracted by Kim Kardashian”s oiled butt than focus on meeting live people.
A psychologist doesn’t diagnose or counsel over email.
The top sales performers today are out there, differentiating themselves face to face every day, without self serving agendas communicating, conversing and connecting with clients when others are still trying to come up with a detailed agenda to drive a meeting.
Just like Kim’s baby oil company. They’ve got this covered.
CEO of Salient Communication, Elliot is a sought after keynote speaker and corporate trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and CUB.
He is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.
Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two expensive children.