It was 3 o’clock on a cold wintery Friday afternoon and I was just about to see a new client for the first time. Great. Tired and longing for a big fat armchair and a cup of tea, there couldn’t really have been a worse time for me to deliver a magnificent sales pitch.
Everyone else in the office was having a P.O.E.T.S day and demotivation was beginning to knock on my door as I started cramming in all that client research and honing my product knowledge before trying to summon up the energy to be pitch-perfect. Seeing a new client so close to the weekend is sometimes a task best left to Achilles (or at least Monday!), but the results from this pitch were about to change my sales behaviour forever.
The pitch was mediocre to say the least – I just didn’t feel I was putting over my best. There is no doubt I covered all the areas I had to as far as product features are concerned, made a good relationship with the client based on his needs in relation to the product and even though I had the clock on my mind, I felt myself steaming along from the off.
But the strange thing was the client was hanging on every word I said…
From the very beginning I felt the client was with me, understood and related to the USP almost immediately. It just seemed a matter of time and that was propelling me forward. I almost knew I was going to close the sale from the moment I started my pitch.
What had I done?
Experts in selling like to put a name and proper procedure to everything great sales people do. This way we can highlight that behaviour and streamline it for future use. But there is sometimes a behaviour we carry out that just seems to slip unnoticed – that has no name, but one we tend to repeat sub-consciously simply because it just seems right. There was something I had done that had helped get my client on track. I wanted to foster that behaviour – but I couldn’t pinpoint it or put a name to it.
Then I found the answer thanks to Robert Cialdini
I am an addict for foraging for the latest effective sales techniques. As a society we are always progressing and moving forward and with those new advances and a better understanding of psychology which triggers new concepts in salesmanship or enlightens us as to methods we may be using to streamline our own performances in order to fulfil client performances.
It is very rarely we come across an article that is startlingly innovative – it immediately shows us how we can streamline our skills and expertise and makes sense of expertise we may already be using but previously have not identified as a factor for success. Having read an article on Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini I knew I could see I was using the same methods myself in some form but Robert had taken it to the next step and streamlined the whole concept.
The power of Pre-suasion!
This is about putting your client in the right mind in the now moment.
As Robert Cialdini says:
“…the key to pre-suasion is bringing attention to the concept that is the central feature of your offer as early as possible because it makes people ready for, receptive to, other information related to that concept once they encounter it in your message.”
In other words, if the USP relative to the client is “a need to save money” then you need to use subliminal messages to highlight the fact that your product or brand is focussed on value for money before you even start your pitch. This can be enhanced through the sales environment, anecdotes or body language before the pitch begins. In this way your client is on board from the outset.
In my experiences I had been doing this with clients I had researched well and, in the Friday afternoon example above, I was honing in on what I knew were trigger points for them saving money long before the pitch itself. I knew what was important for them and littered my introductions with reference to the company’s past achievements in lowering costs – unbeknown to me I even had posters on the wall which backed this single factor up!
As Robert Cialdini points out in his article, some may see this as unethical. Kind of putting your client into some weird trance. But how can it be when you are simply recognising and fulfilling your clients’ needs in that moment in time? It’s a win-win situation which allows both of you to access what you are looking for.
Using this technique in your sales pitch
I now use Robert’s Pre-suasion techniques consciously whenever I am selling and the difference is remarkable. Instead of spending time and effort just getting the client on board, I can feel their interest from the very beginning. Simply because I have honed in their specific needs pre-pitch.
“Communicators don’t achieve their greatest success by changing a recipient’s mind with a clearly crafted appeal, but rather by changing the recipient’s state of mind, in the moment before the appeal — specifically, so that the recipient becomes more sympathetic to, more readied for, the cleverly crafted message that we have waiting for them.”
All clients are unique and maybe looking for benefits other than money savings (this is largely at the basis of all transactions but it may not be what is most important). They may be looking for reliability, comfort, longevity, peace of mind or many other benefits that your product or service may bring.
For instance, technology salespeople may find clients who simply want the latest and the most state of the art gadgets – whatever the cost. You therefore need an environment that promotes all the latest tech toys. The computer you are working from should be top of the range. Treat and delight your client with chat about all the latest stuff before you get down to business. Pepper your sales talk with language that sparks that interest with words such as “state-of the art”; “latest must-have”; “cutting edge technology” etc.
Take my advice – the next time you are going to make a big pitch – think of that precious time beforehand. Don’t waste it – if used properly it could create a template which will boost all your sales in the future.
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