Episode 8: Depth Selling: The Importance of Questions and Eliciting Values
Episode 8: Depth Selling: The Importance of Questions and Eliciting Values
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JASON MCCLAIN: Welcome to “Evolutionary Sales”. I’m your host, Jason McClain, and your guide in the 21st-century marketplace.
“Have some compassion for yourself, and understand that you’re at the level of unconscious incompetence before you listen to this, and then at the level of conscious incompetence, which is where you go, “Oh, I really don’t know what I’m doing. I said it would be 20 minutes and it’s been 19 already. I want to respect your time. Do you still have time, or should we schedule another call?” These are little things that you can do to demonstrate respect, honor, and that you are in service of them, which is the fundamental grounding of evolutionary sales. I’ve had some people say, “Wow, no one’s ever asked me that, and I’ve never considered it.” And already, with just one question, you’ve put yourself far and above the competition. People are listening to a radio station all the time, and that is WIIFM, “What’s In It For Me?” That’s the radio station they’re listening to.”
Last week on “Evolutionary Sales” we did a thorough review, for the purpose of assisting you in further integrating your learnings, so they could make an even bigger difference in your life, and in your business. In service of that I also shared with you levels of learning, and levels of experience. 'Levels of learning' was to assist you in understanding that you will go through stages, sometimes uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful. But you will go through stages of learning, and one of the things that I really stress, through my work, that idea, that is the Institute for the Development of Evolutionary Awareness, is that development happens in stages. There are different developmental lines. And I love the metaphor of building a muscle, because if you think about going to the gym, I’m sure some of you have done some form of exercise, but let’s use going to the gym and actually lifting weights. At first the movements seem awkward, or maybe you do movements that you’ve never done before, and they seem really awkward. But then suddenly you begin to get some stability around them. That is, you begin to actually master the movements. You still have to think about them, but you master the movements. And then finally, you’re doing them so well that you don’t even have to think about them. And so you have to hire a trainer to assist you in adding additional movements, new ways of thinking and acting to build the muscle even further. Now another way to think about that is that sometimes, when you begin to work out, you get sore. At first, you try to do too much. That is, you have an unrealistic expectation for yourself. And you start to really pound on the weights, and the weights pound back, and you get pretty sore. And you go away and you start to second-guess yourself, “Oh well, maybe I should just go back to the old way of doing things.”
And so it is with this training. These are a series of podcasts, but it’s literally a training, retraining the way you work with your clients and your prospects. And whether you’re a veteran, and you’ve already understood the idea that even one new good idea can mean the difference between thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in your business, or whether you’re just starting out in sales, and you are introduced to this process right away. Either way, there’s going to be some discomfort at first. So have some compassion for yourself. And understand that you’re at the level of unconscious incompetence before you listen to this, and then at the level of conscious incompetence, which is where you go, “Oh, I really don’t know what I’m doing.” Or maybe you say, “Well, I know what I’m doing, but I never thought about it this way, and that’s a really interesting way of thinking about it. And that new way of thinking about it can make a difference in your results, in your fulfillment, in your happiness, and at the bottom line, in your income. So again, thank you for allowing me to assist you with this, and once you jump right into the next stage, and the next stage in this process is about your offering, and about depth.
So you are already setting your mind with the mindsets that are necessary to be successful, and you’ve made several decisions about being a sales person, and being a sales professional. You’ve looked at your own beliefs, your own limiting beliefs, and you’ve dissolved those. You’re learning how to manage your mind, and you’ve already made rapid success, rapid transformation, rapid development or rapid evolution, or incredible progress; however you like to think about it is fine, with your ability to manage your mind, and therefore your emotions. You are practicing, and have practiced, and are learning the skills of rapport, non-verbal communication. You’ve learned how to get on the phone, and how to get through what they used to call a gatekeeper, and what I’ll simply call ‘somebody who’s a speed bump on the path of your route to the ultimate decision maker.’ So once you get them on the phone, we’ve talked a little bit about our time. You want to go straight to telling them what the purpose of your call is. And the way I used to do that is I would simply say, “This is a sales call. Do you have time for a sales call?” Now I have to tell you, and maybe I said this in the last episode or the episode before that, rarely have I ever had anybody, “No, I don’t.” Usually they go, “A humph! Sure.” They’re so shocked that I’m up-front about that, and what’s communicated is that I’m respecting their time.
Now what a lot of salespeople do right after that, and this is a mistake, is they go right into some monologue, some script, some statement about what they do or what their company does. This is a mistake. They hear that so many times it’s ridiculous. Some people hear that ten times a day, fifteen times a day. They get these phone calls from people who are clever getting around what they call a ‘gatekeeper’, and you decide to bore them to tears. Now you don’t mean to bore them to tears; you think you need to establish credibility right up front. I say the way to establish credibility right up front is to get into their world, and the way to get into their world is to ask them questions. And so you say, “Well, this is a sales call. Do you have ten minutes?” And you want to slightly overestimate how much time you think it will take. And you want to watch the clock, because the last thing you want to do is say you need ten minutes, and then it takes twenty. Say it takes twenty, and then take fifteen. Always respect their time. And, let’s say you said twenty, and you’re looking at your clock, and it’s nineteen. You want to say, “You know, I’m noticing, I said it would be twenty minutes, and it’s been nineteen already. I want to respect your time. Do you still have time, or should we schedule another call?” These are little things you can do to demonstrate respect, honor, and that you are in service of them, which is the fundamental grounding of evolutionary sales. It is the difference that will make a difference in the 21st-century marketplace for you. So based on permission selling, you just simply want to ask, “Do you have time for this?” And then you want to say, “Can I ask you a few questions? May I ask you a few questions?” Of course they’ll say yes, if they’ve already given you permission for the time, but you still want to ask anyway. And then you’ll say, “May I ask you a few questions about previous service providers?” “Well, yes.” “Well, what did you like about them?” And they’ll tell you. And then, “What didn’t you like about them?” Then, they’ll tell you. And suddenly you have a list of criteria of what I call ‘conditions for fulfillment’ for them with you, and then your job is to simply fulfill those qualities. Maybe they like to be contacted by email, and not by phone. Maybe they like to be contacted by phone, and not by email. Maybe they want you to keep them informed even if nothing’s happening in the process. They want to know that you’re on top of it, but that nothing’s happened yet. Maybe they only want you to check in with them once something has happened, so that, “Just share with me when there’s some movement; don’t call me before then.” Maybe they need you to be able to get a deal worked for them within 48 or 72 hours, or something of that nature. The truth is you don’t know, so you need to ask.
Begin to notice how often you make assumptions about the services, or about the qualities or characteristics that you think people want. Begin to notice how often you project your own desires, your own values, onto them, and distance yourself from that. Dis-identify from that; detach from that, and begin to stay in inquiry. And then you want to actually get into values. When I say ‘values’, what I mean is, in some contexts there’s some set of conditions or criteria or characteristics that are important to everyone. In relationships, what’s important to you in relating? What’s important to you in a partner? In business, what’s important to you in this type of service provider? If you’re really clear about your offering you can also start off with a really bold claim, in the form of a question. For example, you may be a real estate agent, and you say, “What if I could find you the house of your dreams, within two weeks? Would that be interesting to you?” Or if you’re an IT consultant you could say, “What if I could assist you in migrating your Oracle database more rapidly and more effectively than you thought possible? Would that be interesting to you?” Or you may be a mortgage broker, and you say, “Well, if I could get you prime plus one, based on competition between the lenders, would that be interesting to you?” Or... It depends on what your business is, but the point is, first of all, you want to get on the phone and you want to immediately garner interest, and you want to go as deep with them as possible, as deep as rapport will allow, as quickly as possible. I have to tell you, especially with some of these values questions, what’s important to you in a service provider? What’s important to you in a x, y, or z, or what’s important to you in what we’re looking for, for you? I’ve had some people say, “Wow. No one’s ever asked me that. And I’ve never considered it.” And already, with just one question, you’ve put yourself far and above the competition, because they’re the ones who’ve got a script in mind, “Well, hello So-and-so, I’m with Such-and-such company, and we provide blah blah blah…” And you know, really, in this day and age… Now I used to say, I used to say that you had three minutes to grab someone’s attention… you’ve really got 20 seconds. And I want you to think about having 20 to 30 seconds of grabbing someone’s attention and distinguishing yourself from other people in the marketplace. One of the critical things to remember is that a lot of sales people make the mistake, and small business people as well, who are essentially sales people if they want to be successful. You’re a salesperson first; you just happen to be selling your personal service or your personal product. But one of the mistakes that people make is they call somebody up, and they think that they should launch into what they think is wonderful about their product or service, what they find of value in it. But people who are listening on the other end of the phone don’t really care what you care about, in terms of your personal interest or your personal values, in terms of what is exposed in terms of your values, through your product or service. They care about what they care about. Do not make the mistake, as many people do, of projecting your values onto someone else. You have to ask them what’s important to them. You have to ask them what would be interesting to them, and then hopefully you can find a way with integrity to demonstrate that that is represented through your product or service. Make no assumptions about what’s important to somebody. Just because you like a feature or a benefit does not mean that they are going to like the same feature or benefit. It may not be what they’re interested in; it may not be what they need. And it may not be where their focus is right them, and so again if you launch into some script about how wonderful your company is or how wonderful you are… nobody really cares about that. If you start to ask questions, though, then not only do you have permission every step of the way, you know, “Is now a good time to talk? Can I ask you about x, y, or z? Is now a good time for a sales call?” These things that are truthful, truly upfront, get to the heart of the matter, and instantly build a rapport because any time you’re interested in somebody you’re interesting. People make the mistake of trying to be interesting; that is they call someone up, or they talk to somebody, and they want to rattle off all these things about how interesting they think they are, or their product or service is. And it doesn’t matter if the context is romantic or if it’s in business. People don’t care about that. People are listening to a radio station all the time, and that is WIIFM, “What’s In It For Me?” That’s the radio station they’re listening to, and I owe that metaphor to Naomi Kolb, and thank you, Naomi. But “WIIFM”. And so to begin to tailor all of your… You need to find out what is interesting to them, so that you can tell them what’s in it for them. You should always begin with questions, never, ever, ever, ever begin with a script or statements, or a monologue about your business or service, no matter how wonderful you think that is.
Various listeners have emailed me and asked, “Can this work for my business?” Or you know, “I’m in x, y, and z business, and I’m not sure this will work for me.” Or, “I’m not sure how to tailor this for my business.” Or you know, “Gosh, this sounds like a really traditional sales program, and I don’t think I’m in a traditional sales business.” You know it’s funny; first of all I have designed this program so that it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, what product you’re selling, or what side of the business you may be in. If you’re trying to connect with people, and open a relationship with them, this system will work. More importantly, what I would like you to do, is I would like to shift your thinking away from binary thinking, or on/off thinking, or yes/no thinking, or either/or thinking, and shift to a both-and, or ‘to what degree’. Shift from digital, on/off, to analogue, ‘to what degree’. Rather than questioning, “Can this work for me or not?” ask yourself, “How can it?” Rather than asking, “Can this apply to my business?” ask yourself, ‘how’ could it apply to your business? In that way, the power of that question, you will re-orient yourself, and you will find value that would have been overlooked before. It is a more subtle distinction within the idea of beliefs and possibility. If you’re looking for evidence whether it is or not, you will find that. If you’re looking for evidence of how it can be effective, you will find that.
And a final note, on the phone or contact in person, or… you’re going to want to begin to notice subtle cues, subtle non-verbal cues. People are communicating with you all the time. You want to be careful not to project your disempowering fantasies into what they’re communicating non-verbally, but at the same time, if you sense they’re out of pace with you, literally out of pace, that is that you have lost rapport, or that you experience some “resistance”, then you want to back up and you want to re-establish rapport non-verbally, through your voice, through your body, by asking a question, by just acknowledging some discomfort that you sense, if you have a deep enough relationship with them already. And some of these tools I use no matter how long-standing the relationship is with the client. Don’t think that once a client has signed an agreement, that suddenly you’ve got everlasting rapport with them. You never know what’s going on for them that day. You never know what you might have said or done that was out of pace with what they needed at the time. Remember you’re there to provide service, to provide contribution, and to open a relationship.
So you’ve done your personal work; you’ve identified your prospects; you’ve practiced your rapport skills and you’re practicing them all the time, every time you interact with a human being. You’re managing your own mind. You’re getting past the person who is empowered but not qualified to make a decision about whether or not you should be speaking to the decision maker. You’re building a rapport with that person as well. You’re also building a rapport, non-verbally, when you get on the phone with the actual decision maker, and then you’re getting to their deepest values. You’re using permission-based selling, that is asking their permission every step of the way, everything from, “Now is a good time to talk?” to “May I ask you a few questions?” and “Can I ask you some questions about this?” and “Can I ask you some questions about that?” And you’re constantly in inquiry, and you’re discovering what’s important to them, what their values are in the context in which you are relating. And that is permission-based selling tied into what I call ‘depth selling’. Because you want to sell to their deepest values. You’re also going to learn how to language and couch all of the services that you’re providing, because they’re going to tell you what’s important to them, and you will find a way, with integrity, to tailor your offering to their desires.
Join us next week when we get into some really powerful linguistic skills, a whole set of skills I call ‘Gap Analysis’, where you will not only find out what the client needs, but what it’s worth to them and how to distinguish yourself from the marketplace, but also what’s stopping it, which is how you design whatever solution you will provide to them.
I’m Jason McClain, your host, and your guide to the 21st-century marketplace.
For transcripts of this show, and other shows on the Personal Life Media Network, go to www.PersonalLifeMedia.com, or you can email me with any questions you have at Jason@PersonalLifeMedia.com. There will come a time very soon when you can ask questions about how to customize this to your business. You can share success stories; you can share challenges; you can ask me questions about the material in any scope, so feel free to use that. You can also of course comment on the blog, the “Evolutionary Awareness” blog on the Personal Life Media Network, if you just go to www.PersonalLifeMedia.com and you click on “blogs” in the top navigation bar, you should see my photo and a link to the blog associated with this show fairly easily. Just recently I posted an article on the importance of self-esteem and heavily quoted Dr. Nathaniel Branden, who would be the grandfather of the self-esteem movement, the true self-esteem movement. So enjoy that and join me next week for Gap Analysis. Again I’m Jason McClain, your host and your guide in the 21st-century marketplace. Thank you for allowing me to contribute to you. And thank you for listening to your Personal Life.
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