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We hate to be the Bad News Bears, but people straight up do not like to be sold to. Fortunately for you and everyone else in the business of selling things, people do love it when you solve their problems. So that’s what we suggest you do instead.
For real, for real, we want you to spend less time on your “sales calls” selling and pitching and more time helping. You’ll build more genuine connections with potential clients, you’ll have more success, and heck, you’ll even have more fun!
Alright, we can’t really guarantee that last one, but we’re pretty into problem-solving over here, so we can’t help but get excited about it.
Usually, if a potential client is reaching out to you, they already know what they need from you. Or, at least, they think they know what they need from you. You’ll listen to that, take it into consideration, and supplement it with a conversational series of questions.
What do we mean by “conversational”? Just keep it cool and caj. Try to find that sweet spot between “interrogation” and “five-year-old who just wants to know why why why?” and work your magic from there.
Let’s take a closer look at this role-played customer call:
Q: I’m a little curious, why are you calling about web comps?
A: I’ve seen the work you’ve done in the past and thought you could help with our brand
Takeaway: The customer is familiar with your work and prepared to trust you
Q: Right, but why do you, specifically, believe you need web comps?
A: We want to increase engagement. We’ve had some success in the past… but have seen our sales going down, and we’re not sure why. We want repeat customers, but it’s very competitive in our industry.
Takeaway: Whoa! This client gave so much information in answering this one question. We now have a pain point, a proposed reason for it, the desired result of fixing it, and a roadblock that they feel is getting in the way.
Make sure you jot down those pain points, the proposed problems, and the peripheral info, too! “We’ve had trouble… We don’t know why… We’re not sure… It’s a pretty competitive industry.”
Q: Anything else?
Throw in a couple of these bad boys every now and then to encourage the potential client to share more information with you without setting limiting parameters around that information. Just keep ‘em talkin’!
Q: Who was providing this for you before?/What were you using before?/Why can’t you use them again?
A: We had someone in the past, but the partnership kind of deteriorated. (Why?) They moved, and they weren't responsive. They pivoted to other clients, and the communication kind of died off.
At this point in the conversation, take a little step back, reference your notes, and summarize the information you just gathered in a sympathetic/validating tone.
Start with, “I’m hearing…” and confirm, “is that right?”
Bonus points if you validate their bad experience with their previous vendor without trashing the vendor. Look at you, you emotionally intelligent, empathetic, so-and-so!
Q: If we were to fix one of these problems, which of these would have the biggest impact on your business? What do you think?
Pro-Tip: It’s not always straightforward and might take a few tries for them to figure out. Listen to everything they say, not just the “official” answer. Sometimes people answer your questions better in the side-bars than when they directly answer you.
Let’s do the next few rapid-fire, just like they would be in a call.
Listen for specific dollar amounts in these next three, and write. Them. Down!
You’ll thank us later.
Bam bam bam! Here we go!
Q: What numbers are you seeing right now?
Q: What end result are you looking for?
Q: What would that mean to your business?
Q: Is this actually the problem?
In whatever words work, find a way to sneak these questions in there.
Sometimes they really do have the problem that they thought they did at the start, but often at this point in the conversation, the client will need to be redirected based on the information they gave you and what you inferred from that.
Don’t just harshly shift the focus, though. You gotta be slick, you gotta be smooth.
Tell them what you think the problem is and ask them directly what their opinion of your assessment is.
Time for some quick math!
Take a look at the numbers they gave you, the revenue increase they expect, and extrapolate that over a larger time frame, like 12 months.
And just to prove that it pays to be curious, we’re back for one more round of questions!
Q: Is this an accurate estimate?
Q: What do you think a fair price would be against this number?
The next bit is all up to how they’ve responded. For a more in-depth review of what to do when someone lowballs you, check this out! For now, though, let’s focus on a negotiation based on the estimated revenue increase that you agreed on earlier.
Clients don’t always think about the return on their investment in terms of percentages. Sometimes they just guess the price based on what number “feels comfortable” for them. And that’s okay. But that’s not where the conversation ends.
Demonstrate what percentage they’re offering to pay you. If the revenue increase is estimated to be $480k and the client is only willing to spend $10k, they are offering just 2.5%. Spelling it out like that might just be enough to get you back in the game.
Want to know more about closing the deal? Check this out!
This not-very-sales-y sales tactic helps your potential client feel like they are an active part of this problem-solving because they are! And it makes them feel like you care and understand because you do!
This also sets you up for a negotiation in which your customer already knows why what you’re providing is valuable to them. You can close the deal without ever being even a teensy tiny bit “pitchy.”
Remember to put your own personal pizzazz on these questions, though; you want the conversation to feel natural and breezy, not like a recitation of a script. We have no doubt that you’ll get there- it just takes some practice.
Dang, we have covered a lot in such a short time. Still hungry for more?
Feeling ~curious~ about our sales style? We gotchu. Check out all these rad resources and videos and learn to your hearts’ content.
Or are you already onboard and ready to practice these new wicked sales skills?
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