Breaking Through in 2023, What Will It Take?

I’m sure most of us have felt the direct or indirect impact of layoffs, deal velocity grinding to a halt or reduced pace, more red tape to release budgets and perhaps no shows to meetings. Some of these are outside of our control, but when we are showing up in service with a clear purpose to help deliver business outcomes we can influence some of these negative symptoms. To do so, we must be intentional, not leaving any of this up to chance.

See my 3 Recommendations to get our prospects leaning in again below:

1) TEACH. Are we starting calls leading with us? Our product, headquarters, testimonials, logo slides? Our prospects immediately turn off as this is predictable seller-focused behaviour. If we have done our homework, we should be able to share an insight, stat, story, or trend in their industry that illuminates something about the way they are getting the job done today. Let’s also not kid ourselves, they are in fact getting the job done.
Can we ask a few questions that get them questioning, and rethinking their approach? Remember, we work with companies in their industry way more than they do. What stories can we share about what others are seeing, and experiencing, that will invite our prospect to reconsider their approach? Could there be a better way that is perhaps more effective? Their lens is focused inward, most of them in the weeds. This information is helpful and allows them to anticipate, and prepare for something that could have a serious impact on their business. We are helping them avoid catastrophe. Put a proactive plan together to minimize risk and damage to varying degrees.

2) Help Them Predict. As Todd Caponi suggests in his book, The Transparency Sale, how can we lead with Transparency? They have already googled our product and looked at G2 reviews to see what it is like to work with us Now Chat GPT. If there are some less than favourable, can we lead with them?
Taking this approach disarms them, demonstrating from the get-go we are different. Based on the law of reciprocity, this invites them to disarm and open as well. Now they can predict with certainty what the exchange will be like. We are not hiding behind anything, pretending we are everything to everyone. Todd’s research shows we base our buying decisions on reviews and what ones do we start with? You got it, the negative ones. We know 5 stars don’t exist, and if we see one we question it, doubt it, get suspicious, and wonder what else they are hiding. Our prospects are no different. Our brain likes to predict, it also likes to be right. Let’s help it do that. Leading with transparency is the basis for an open, honest, and productive conversation. The foundation for building a long lasting relationship is based on trust.

2) Meaningful Check-Ins. What Are These?
Too often I review calls and I hear and see the AE in a 9-minute monologue. Show every feature under the sun and their prospect is somewhere else, other than the demo. They wait until the very end to say, “what do you think?” Does this make sense” 2 lazy questions that tell us absolutely nothing? At this point, they will tell you what you want to hear to quickly get off the call, only to never respond to your follow-up emails. Why? Because we didn’t check in along the way. Starting with what we are about to show them/ discuss, “Is this in line with your expectations?” Gain permission first. “Anything else you would like to talk about? Add to the agenda?” Invite them to be a participant, not a spectator.

If this is a demo or presentation, highlight the top 3 challenges they shared with you from previous calls and let them know these will be the focus of the presentation. This shows you respect their time and are focusing on their 3 highest priorities, stick to only 3. The Rule of 3 suggests we remember things in 3’s.
“How does this sound? Are you ok with this approach?” They are sitting up taller, being included on a call is new to them. As you continue to show how your solution addresses their challenges, Pause, and hold space for them. This may be the first time they have seen your solution in action, let them take it all in. “What are your initial thoughts of X? point them to the area you want feedback on. “How does this compare to what you are using today?” We need some measurable feedback to go on, this is our mental scorecard indicating if they are leaning in or out. Cool, Great, Awesome, We can’t measure those terms, break them apart.

Alternatively, if you detect hesitation or uncertainty, call it out.” I’m just looking at your facial expression and perhaps I’m reading it wrong, but it seems like you may have a question, need a little more information, is that right?” Again, they are part of the dialogue. If there are any objections or questions, answer them or get in front of them immediately. If we allow them to build up, it is too much work for our prospect and their brain to revisit them after the fact. Back to point 2, our brain will take the predictive path of least resistance and determine this is not a fit. We made it too hard. Revisiting built-up questions, and objections in our buyer's head uses too much energy that our brain is trying desperately to conserve, so it shuts off. The juice is not worth the squeeze.

Having meaningful check-ins every few minutes prevents this from happening. Our prospect is engaged and plays an active role in the exchange.
Based on Matt Dixon’s research in The Jolt Effect, 60% of deals end in no deal due to indecisiveness. Regular check-in empowers our prospects to confidently make a decision at the end as they have seen first-hand how your solution solves their challenges, received answers to their questions and can communicate the value they feel It will have. This takes risk off the table and makes it easy for our buyers to confidently move forward. Knowing that AI is all around us, and is useful for certain things, Gartner’s studies show 72% of buyers want a sales-free experience, based on the 3 points above we can see why.What can we do to invite our prospects to want to speak with us? Teach them something that will help them deliver better outcomes, something they have not otherwise considered. Help them predict a path forward and leverage our human side of regularly checking in to see if what we are showing them is helpful or not.

What will you do differently today that will invite your prospects to see you in a different light, and deviate from their perception of a typical salesperson looking out for themselves?Sales Leaders how can you support your team? Roleplay, and review their calls together. Look for patterns, behaviours, meaningful check in’s to start denting the 72%

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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