As the salesman entered the boardroom, he knew this meeting had huge implications for him. This prospect would be the largest client in his company’s history and the revenue from this one client would exceed what they were currently earning from his entire portfolio. Winning this account would place him in a new income bracket.
He opened his presentation like this, “I don’t know much about accounting, that’s John’s field of expertise, I am not well versed in engineering, that’s Steve’s area.......” and he went on to cite each decision maker’s proficiency.
He said, “I am here to learn.” In an instant you could feel the energy in the room shift as all resistance dissolved. He was no longer the typical salesman there to push his own agenda. He was simply a student of their business and each man wanted to impress him with their knowledge and expertise.
He was confident he had the solution to their problems, but he knew better than to begin this meeting by pushing his expertise and telling them why they needed his company. The stage was set.
In scenarios like this, salespeople often put themselves in the position to be challenged and they spend their time trying to convince their prospects of why they need to do business with them. This is not the way you want to enter the sales process.
It is typically a futile exercise to try to force your agenda on someone else. However, influence was his tool of choice. Influence is powerful and unobtrusive. He proceeded to direct the outcome of that meeting by asking questions instead of trying to sell them anything.
During my extensive background in sales, we were taught to use questions as opposed to statements to influence people. Truthfully it is impossible to really convince others to your point of view. Whenever someone feels you are trying to persuade them, they become more resolute in their own conviction. That is why there is often a lot of tension in sales situations.
After they educated him on their business and what was important to them, he resisted the desire to tout the virtues of his company’s features and benefits. He simply highlighted each feature and allowed the prospects to tell him how they would benefit. He didn’t have to sell them on anything. They felt strongly about the benefits because they came up with the answers themselves, once they heard the benefits come out of their own mouths, their decision was solidified.
Lessons learned: Number one, you can become more powerful by relinquishing power. By humbling himself, he became the most powerful person in the room. He did not try to force them to respect him by proving his brilliance. They gave him their respect because he was confident enough to admit he did not know everything.
Number two; he elevated each gentleman by highlighting and their area of expertise. He eradicated their need to challenge him, as prospects often do in sales situations.
Number three; questions are much more powerful than statements. Through the use of questions, he stepped aside and allowed them to sell themselves. He understood; if I tell you something, it is simply my opinion. If you say something it is gospel. We are married to our own ideas.
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Kim Welcome CEO of
Influential Voice works with progressive companies and individuals who
are concerned that unrefined communication skills may be hindering their
growth and advancement. She helps them to increase their power to
influence for greater productivity and impact. For more info visit www.influentialvoice.com. For a Free Speech & Voice Evaluation email firstname.lastname@example.org.