When two people meet there are always two agendas in play. Whoever is more persuasive will control the agenda.
When you’re calling or meeting a new prospect, their agenda is to stay on guard and not let you get them to make a decision that they might regret later.
This is something that people do subconsciously because of prior experience with sales people. Most people have been in situations in which they were pushed to make a buying decision that they later regretted.
Your prospect’s agenda will change according to your agenda.
When you pick up your phone and you hear, “Good afternoon. I am calling from ….. Is …….. Available?”
Think for a moment, what goes through your mind in this second? Do your antennae go up? Are you ready to fight? Most people react that way because they associate that question with telemarketing. And they know they have to be very careful not to get into trouble and sign up for something that they don’t need and can’t afford.
After you answer, “Yes, speaking,” your agenda will change according to what the person on the other side of the line says. If he tries to sell you something, your agenda will be to get rid of him, as soon as possible.
On the other hand if that person tells you that he is the principal of your child’s school and the reason for the call is to discuss your child’s education, your agenda will change immediately. You may start to think, “I hope my child is not in trouble…” And so the agenda keeps on changing as the conversation goes on.
These concepts don’t apply solely to sales people. Regardless of your business or your role in your company, your ability to build successful professional relationships and to persuade others to see things your way — whether you’re talking to established clients, prospects, or colleagues — lies at the heart of any professional success you will achieve.
Your agenda will create your prospect’s agenda.
When your agenda is to sell, your prospect’s agenda is not to be sold. When your agenda is to build a relationship, your prospect’s agenda is to strengthen the relationship. When I explain this concept to sales people they usually say, “But my goal is to sell them. I don’t care about the relationship.”
But ask yourself:
- When you call a prospect, do you know absolutely and without question that they need your product or service?
- If it turned out that they don’t need your product or service at this time, would you still push them to buy?
- If they do buy your product or service, would you like to keep a relationship with them so they will refer business to you and buy from you in the future?
If you are honest, you will see for yourself that your goal is always to create a relationship. And buying or selling is a result of the relationship. The fact is, “all the things being equal people still like to do business with people they trust and like”.
This is one of the areas where many sales people fail. They do not realize that the art of selling is building strong relationships. You need to keep adding new relationships every day while at the same time strengthening your existing relationships. To do that you constantly need to create value for the people in your network.
The secret of successful selling is to spend your time only with qualified prospects and build your relationships with them. Then, when they are ready to buy, they will buy from you. You want to give them your best recommendations to serve their best interests. And the only way to do that is by understanding their circumstances, needs, wants and desires. To gain this understanding you must ask them open-ended questions.
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK.
Pick ten people you want to work with more effectively, whether they are prospects, existing clients or colleagues. Decide that you don’t want to persuade them about anything. You just want to find out as much as you can about them. Call them and tell them that you would appreciate the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their needs. Make it clear that you will not try to sell them anything or change their opinion about anything at your meeting. Then meet them. Sit back and just listen, with no agenda other than to understand them.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK.
“Don”t knock the weather. Nine-tenths of the people couldn”t start a conversation if it didn”t change once in a while.” Ken Hubbard.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
Is it possible that you would make more money by striving to understand your clients (internal or external) rather than by trying to sell to them?
© 2008 – 2012, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.