It’s been over 15 years since Bruce Willis walked around in The Sixth Sense not realising he was already dead. (Apologies to anyone under 25 who may not have seen one of the most famous twists in movie history).
In that time, an eerie sixth sense has developed.
‘I see dead deals…’
Deals that have all the persuasion of a local government councillor discussing bin night, deals that involve an audience as big as Carols by Candlelight but not the real decision maker and deals that are really exciting for the seller but are on par with cleaning the oven for the client.
But, one of the key reasons for new business dropping off like the Aussie Dollar is related to another sense.
It’s not taste, sight, hearing, smell or touch.
It’s the sense ….of entitlement.
Despite 400 Petabytes of data being written about how true persuasion puts the client at the centre of the call, there are still a lot of people who feel entitled to drive, pitch and talk a lot in client meetings.
It’s not about you. Get over it. Sell your ego on eBay while it’s still got currency.
Here’s a true story that crossed my desk (everyone says that – nothing actually crosses my desk except coffee stains).
It happened a few weeks ago on Remembrance Day – November 11.
A client in the middle of a 10.30 meeting with a potential supplier mentioned that he had family ties back to World War One and would like to observe a minute’s silence at 11.00 am to remember the fallen who had fought for our country.
At precisely 11.00 am they stopped talking, bowed their heads slightly and remained silent.
As the client’s head came up a minute later, our intrepid sales guy said ‘So, given you’ve had time to reflect for a bit just now, did you think about the proposal we were discussing?’
I believe that guy is now working for NASA circumnavigating Pluto without a space suit… or shuttle.
The initial reaction to such insensitive crappery is to laugh it off with incredulity and a side order of ‘What a moron’.
But hang on a second….
How did it even occur to him that his proposal was the central theme of the meeting?
Perhaps, because he felt he was entitled. After all the client agreed to meet him.
Granted, this idiot is off the scale but how many of us are keen to steer the conversation back to our company, our proposal, our story, regardless of what the client says.
We are all taught and told to listen to the point where the word itself sounds trite and there are eye-rolling sighs of ‘Yeah, yeah…listen to the client’s needs and then find something of value back- Wow, you’re a guru, Elliot, what an original concept’.
But time after time we don’t, because:
- We’re keen to get our own three messages across
- We think we’ve only got one meeting to tell them everything
- We don’t like what the client is saying
- We were taught to look for buying signals and jump in at the first opportunity to present our ideas
- We want to qualify them and ask them our prescriptive questions.
- We’ve got budget to get and I need to talk to tell the client what I want him/her to buy
We are not entitled to NOT listen.
Deeply, conversationally, with empathy, with pauses, with care and without an agenda
.I see people on 240% of budget because they genuinely listen to everything the client says, every single time.
I see dead deals because the client doesn’t feel heard.
Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Sales Expert and Corporate Trainer who gets results rapidly through innovative sales training.
He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presentation skills, selling, negotiation skills and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and Lend Lease.
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 listens to his wife and two children