Another Year, Another Reminder To Put Our Audience’s Needs First

This past weekend I celebrated a birthday and this year unlike the last two birthdays, we went away for the night. We ate at an actual restaurant and danced to live music, funny the things we took for granted are the things we now crave.

It was a great celebration!

Now I’m not sure if this is me getting older or the salesperson in me, but when salespeople tell me why “they” love something and why “they” think I should buy something because perhaps “they” love it, my back immediately goes up.

Maybe this has happened to you before… We were in the restaurant. I asked the waiter what the Cabernet Sauvignon was like as I had never heard of it, he said it wasn’t very nice and that his favourite was the blend, and we should try it.

As politely as I could, I asked him where this suggestion came from? He said it was his favourite.I was trying to understand why he would recommend the blend, we hadn’t ordered yet, so it wasn’t based on food pairing.I asked if it was because I was interested in the Cabernet and the blend had a Cabernet? He continued to say it was his favourite.At this point, I couldn't believe he continued to say this, I was giving him a few outs to make it about us and he didn’t take any of them.The point here and it goes back to the fundamentals is to know your audience. He didn't ask us any questions, get a sense of our palette, he made it about him.He had no idea if we would like a blend.  

Perhaps we have all been in similar situations in our own environments, are you guilty of saying “this is my favourite slide”, “I love this feature”, "I love this plan, you will too”, "we are the best at this.The harsh truth is, nobody cares what you think. That is your opinion, you work for the company, you work on commission.

So, how can we reframe our opinion? We can, but first, we must ask some questions, get some background on their current situation and a little bit of where they would like to go, then we can see if we are in a position to help or offer recommendations.

Can we reframe it in the form of a story?

Share an experience from another client in a similar situation to them that you were able to help?

Stories Sell, Facts Tell.

People look for themselves in stories, they emotionally connect, and the resonance is higher. Can you paint a picture in their mind's eye where they see themselves in that before state, once they see themselves and feel the emotion, they are much more willing to move to the future state?

Our dinner conversation might have started with some background about what brought us to the restaurant that evening. Once he found out it was my birthday, I could have easily been talked into a glass of champagne first. Rapport building.

Asked us about what type of wine we were thinking about, potential food choice and then possible pairings, what type of cabernet? medium, full body etc. Discover

Once he had a good understanding of our background, he could offer a tester or share how others found the cab a little bitter, but they did enjoy the blend as it still had a hint of the cab. Present the information, invite us to consider the blend based on the stories he shared and ultimately leave the decision up to us. Be consultative.

When we offer our unsolicited opinion to our clients it tightens their grip on the status quo and builds a wall. Buyers can’t let go of the thought, “what are you basing this off?”, “you don’t even know me” or “how do you know what solution I need? you don’t know what I’m currently using, what issues we are having with it or what goals we are trying to achieve”.

Seek first to understand. Ask permission to ask questions - let them know you need to get some background information to see if in fact can help them, would that be ok? Check-in. People want to know where you are taking them, provide situational awareness and you will get an active participant.

Next time you are having a conversation with a prospect, team member or colleague, how can you reframe your opinion? the strengths and benefits of you, your product or service and share it through the lens of someone like them.

With this approach, you are not “grandstanding” you are showing them how they are not alone, and you were able to help others like them. Social proofing, de-risking the situation and inviting them to see themselves in the story.

Maybe next time I will order a martini instead…

About Karen Kelly

For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.

Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools  that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.

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