Sales is simple, but it certainly is not easy. What makes it even more challenging is that buyers, for the most part, tend to resist salespeople.
Why? Because less-than-stellar sales reps give buyers plenty of reasons to resist: lack of research and relevance; long, boring voicemail messages; poorly conducted, awkward, time-wasting sales calls; self-absorbed, self-focused presentations; annoying “touch base” follow-up calls… You get the point, and I bet the names of guilty salespeople — the ones who’ve made it harder for the rest of us — came to mind as you read that list.
So, what can we do about it? How can we prevent a buyer’s reflex resistance to salespeople? Is it possible to alter our approach in such a way to stop buyers from raising their defense shield? The answer is a definitive “yes.” There is much we can do differently.
3 Things to Change Right Now to Avoid Botching Your Own Sale
1. Your Voice
Why do some perfectly normal sounding people change the way they speak in selling situations? Do you know anyone who does this?
When engaging in everyday dialogue with other humans they sound completely conversational, even enjoyable. But the moment they pick up the phone to call a prospect or sit down (or worse, stand up) in a conference room, they turn into complete sales dorks. Their entire persona changes.
Out of nowhere they begin using this sales voice as if they were stepping into a role – an unnatural role. It’s as if they are actually trying to sound like a salesperson, or at least what they imagine a salesperson should sound like. And the bizarre reality is that this sales voice they’re hoping will help them, in effect, does the opposite.
Lose the sales voice. Speak like you’re talking with a peer or colleague. Sure, be respectful. Be professional. But use your normal voice tone and cadence. Nothing puts a buyer in sales resistance-mode like the sales voice does. If you think you may be guilty of this, ask a trusted sales peer to listen to your phone calls or come along on a sales call to see if you could use some practice sounding more natural.
2. The Words You’re Using
I know this may be hard to believe, but not only do most salespeople talk too much, worse, they talk too much about themselves, their company, and their offerings. “We do this, that, and the other thing. We’ve been in business 49 years. Our proprietary processes, our brilliant engineers, our best-in-class solutions.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Newsflash: No one cares how smart you are, how much you know, or how great you think your company or solution is.
This may hurt, but it’s true: It’s not about you. It’s not even about what you or your company do. But when you listen to most salespeople, that’s what they’re talking about. Lots and lots of self-focused words.
Stop talking about what you do and start talking about what you do for customers. When approaching a prospect, lead with the issues your company addresses. What problems do you solve? Which opportunities do you help customers capture? What kind of results will you help them achieve? If you want to engage a potential buyer’s heart and mind, then talk about what matters to that buyer.
It’s that simple. Want to turn off a buyer and see the defense shields go up? Talk about yourself and your offerings. Or you can keep those defenses down by leading with the issues you address for clients. Try it — you’ll be amazed at the difference.
3. The Physical Dynamics of the Sales Call
I’ve been on over 2,000 sales calls in my career – about half of those as the salesperson and the other 1,000 as a third person (manager or coach). I’ve seen some beautiful artistry and wonderfully conducted calls and also observed some really uncomfortable situations.
One of my most intriguing findings is the high percentage of meetings where there are awkward or adversarial physical dynamics. It’s not a topic you hear or read much about, but I am convinced this physical issue contributes to a buyer’s resistance.
Do you ever notice how the sellers tend to sit on one side of the conference table across from the buyers on the other? Why is that the norm? Doesn’t that physical dynamic communicate literally and figuratively that we’re on opposite sides of the table? And if you were to watch the body language of typical sellers, wouldn’t you conclude that they were presenting to, rather than dialoguing with the prospect?
Try something crazy: Sit next to the buyer on sales calls. If there is more than one seller in the room (which is often the case for second meetings, larger meetings, or presentations), spread out and have someone from your company sit on the buyer’s side of the table. I promise you it changes the entire feel of the meeting and immediately reduces the tension in the room. It communicates loudly that you are interested in working with — instead of pitching at — the prospect.
Lower Your Buyer’s Sales Resistance
Yes, buyers resist salespeople. And unfortunately, many of our predecessors have given buyers good reasons to reflexively put up their defenses. As sales professionals, it’s the hand we’ve been dealt. However, we have the opportunity to minimize that resistance with the voice we use, the words we choose, and our physical approach to selling.
Buyers may have a million reasons to say “No.” Make sure the way you come across isn’t one of them.
Have you found your team falling into one of these sales errors? What other ways do you combat sales resistance?