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How many of us enjoy being pitched? Safe to say, very few unless we are actively seeking a solution.
For the most part, buyers are unaware they have a problem. It is our job to heighten their awareness and invite them to consider a different way of getting the job done or realize what they are doing may not be sustainable. How do we do that in a way that is not pushy, salesy and genuinely has their customers' best interest? While at the hairdressers this weekend with my kids, we were chatting about how busy life was running a family, business, and now summer camps/sports etc. There was alignment on our current state.
As my children were getting their haircut, I saw the attention to detail she was taking, she was doing a great job. I am particular when it comes to a hairdresser, but after seeing her work firsthand, I asked if she had a few minutes after the kids to ‘clean up my layers', and she said sure. Credibility was established, I saw her work firsthand and I was impressed.
As we were talking, she shared a story about her stepson. He is 16 and asked if she could cut his hair. She said “Sure, but I have to leave for work by 9 am so you have to be up at 8:30”. She figured being a 16-year-old boy on the weekend he would choose sleeping in over a haircut. She was wrong, he was up and ready for his haircut bright and early, and she was pleasantly surprised. This is where she was strategic. After hearing that story, what do you think the next logical question was………oh you are set up to cut hair from your home? “Oh yes,'' she replied,” I have everything there that I have here”. Ding, ding, ding lights go off in my head. Why didn’t you tell me this earlier, I’m thinking? I could have more flexible booking times, less expensive cuts and have access to more products at a better price. She replied, I can’t offer it up front, but I can talk about it if asked. “Well played”, I said. What did she do???? She reverse-engineered the outcome. After qualifying myself as a good fit, busy mom, business owner and appreciation of value for money.
The game here was: how can I get her to ask about what I do, what other options are available?
1) Get to know your prospect- build rapport, de-risk the situation and ask questions to understand how they are getting the job done today, and what is important to them?
2) Storytelling, sharing insights. She let me know how others were benefiting from her services. Sharing with no asking. This piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know more. 3) The tables were turned. She didn’t have to pitch, she laid out her story strategically that she had my interest. I asked her and she gave me the details of her service offerings.
Technically she was following the rules, she did get me to ask in a roundabout way. While I am not condoning dishonesty, poaching clients from existing business and unethical behaviour. What stood out to me in this situation was, that she started with the end goal and deconstructed the steps backwards. She understood what information she needed to get, and what questions she had to ask to get that information, all while keeping me at the center of the conversation. Too often as sellers, we lead with our intention, and our goals and make ourselves the center of the conversation. We pitch prematurely, with no acknowledgement of their challenge. We are presenting a solution to someone who isn’t aware they have a problem; therefore, they don’t need our solution. In our selling engagements, how can we be more ‘others focused’, understand what information we need, create a playbook to look at various ways to connect, engage and have them leaning in.
Storytelling is so powerful, it disarms, de-risks and plays on emotion to lean in. She made me the hero in the story, not her. Next time you are engaging with a prospect, how can you reverse engineer the situation?
Turn the tables so they are asking you what you do? They are genuinely wanting to hear more.
This comes when we share stories, paint a picture of the before and after, and invite our prospects to see themselves in the story. They are much more likely to engage and want to learn more about you and how you can help.
Facts tell, stories sell.
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.