The new ABC of Sales

einstein-always-be-closing

In my corporate career I had around 15 years in which I carried a personal sales target, one which substantially impacted my remuneration. As a small business owner, I am back to carrying a sales target that not only affects my remuneration but also affects the viability of my business. I recall all the sales training, tools and techniques and annual (or even sometimes quarterly) sales conferences designed to motivate, inspire and occasionally educate me and my peers. I remember the mantra of the sales organisation where I first carried quota – ABC!

Always Be Closing! Every working minute of every working day, and in emails outside of those times, I was encouraged to make the pitch and close the deal. Our Sales Director once told us ‘every day, you have 86,400 opportunities to close – don’t miss any of them!’ (I had to ask, and was told that’s how many seconds there are in a day, and it only takes a second to close a deal.)

Don' sell 2Previous blog posts have taken readers through the logic of needing a new paradigm to enable us to allow customers and prospective customers to say ‘Yes!’ eagerly, joyfully and enthusiastically to doing business with us. If ‘Always Be Closing’ is an out-of-date mantra, what is the new ABC that I refer to? Here it is – Always Be Congruent! Nowadays there are three congruencies required

  • congruence with you as a person,
  • congruence with your client(s) and prospective client(s),
  • congruence with your delivery organisation and capability.

Let’s start with you, because if you don’t get you right the next two congruencies will always seem false to others.

To be successful growing your business you must, as outlined in the book ‘Dance with the Elephants’ www.dancewiththeelephants.com Dance your own Dance. Don’t Dance the Dance of your competition, or some other Dance you think will allow you to flourish but does not truly represent who you are and what you stand for. If you are to compete with and win against your competitors, then your customers, prospective clients and all your stakeholders must experience the true essence of you and your company in all their dealings with you. That essence starts not with what you do, but why you do it.

authentic selfOne of the bonus materials that accompany ‘Dance with the Elephants’ is A Model for Alignment and it is available from the official website of the book http://bit.ly/1yx25aq The model illustrates what is necessary for you to achieve personal congruence. The Model for Alignment recognises that we interact with our world at different logical levels, ranging from environmental factors, through our behaviours, our capabilities and skills, our beliefs and values and, by way of our very identity, into our overall sense of purpose. The model acknowledges the different natures of these interactions. Your target is to have all logical levels aligned with your Big Dream (which is everything you want in life, crafted in such a way that it truly engages you and engages all the stakeholders that can help you achieve it), your Well-Formed Outcome (your nirvana, the equivalent of the nirvana you are helping clients to achieve through the use of the ALIGNED framework http://wp.me/P3sGMs-6r), your overriding sense of purpose – each of which should be perfectly congruent with each other in order for you to be successful in growing your business.

When you are aligned at all logical levels, people will be certain about you. Some people will decide not to align with you. This is good because it is a genuine choice based on understanding and incompatibility. You don’t want to waste your energies trying to align with these people. Those who really get you will choose to align with you, will choose to do business with you, and will choose to become ardent supporters and promoters of you and your business. There is much more guidance about achieving personal alignment in the book http://www.dancewiththeelephants.com

The second congruency needed to be successful in growing your business is congruency with clients and prospective clients. It seems so obvious that, given ‘people buy from people’, there should be a strong bond between the seller and the buyer, or prospective buyer. Yet so often the seller does not take the time to truly align with the potential customer, instead trying to get a ‘best fit’ between what they have and what the customer might possibly want, taking scant, if any, time to understand the needs and desires of the customer. Perhaps worse there is an expectation, a presumption, that the customer or prospective customer actually knows what they want.

So often, it is only by spending time together exploring what would be the ideal solution for both parties that true understanding emerges. The understanding that evolves is not only what is sought, but also why it is wanted, and what the associated benefits are for both parties – creating a far richer and more meaningful link between the parties and the solution; a solution that both parties have a greater interest in and commitment to because they have been part of the nascent solution.

Can I_questionThe ALIGNED framework, concentrating so much as it does on understanding the situation of the prospective buyer, constantly asking the question ‘can I find the perfect solution?’, and avoiding premature searches for possible solutions, greatly improves the alignment between seller and prospective buyer. By staying as long as possible in the question, using interrogative self-talk instead of assertive, the potential seller creates the opportunity to identify the resources needed to provide the perfect solution and crafts internal, intrinsic motivations over externally referenced drivers. Keeping alive the possibility that the answer that may emerge could be ‘No, I cannot provide the perfect solution’ multiplies the effect of the interrogative approach.

The final factor required to deliver success is your alignment with your delivery capability. I will be returning to this topic in future newsletters and blog posts on the subject of ‘aligned customer experience’ so will not write exhaustively on the topic at this time. It is without doubt a big topic; in essence success comes from those delivering your ideal solution being totally aligned with the values inherent in your brand. A brand is a promise kept, and the successful delivery of that promise, that which will enable your client to be truly delighted instead of merely satisfied, is a crucial element in building alignment between you and your customers. Everything in the delivery must be smooth, comfortable and natural for those delivering, particularly where the service is bespoke to the customer and delivered person-to-person.

For instance, in a care setting where highly personalised services are being delivered to individuals, those delivering must be totally aligned to the ethos of caring, not just changing bandages, washing or cleaning for their clients. The service delivery must be aligned with the values underpinning your brand, your promise to deliver the perfect solution. The environment has to be appropriate; as do the behaviours of the service deliverers, who need to have and demonstrate the right skills and capabilities. In delivering the promise, those delivering must be clear that doing so is entirely consistent with their beliefs and values, enabling them to really identify with their role, and enabling them to connect with their overall sense of purpose, their calling, their raison d’être.

Nowadays it is no longer ‘Always Be Closing’; instead it is about ‘Always Be Congruent’. The latter is more comfortable, allows us to be more fulfilled and enables us to connect with our overriding sense of purpose. It is also more effective (50% more effective) that the old sales methods, techniques and motivational tricks of yesteryear.

be congruent_gandhiIf you are not a natural sales person, feel discomfort when assuming the sales role and would like to remain true to who you really are as a professional trying to grow their business, I commend my alternative to you. The ALIGNED framework and the Cialdini materials are now available as the Congruent Business Development System™ and the Congruent Client Attraction System™ respectively. These can be delivered into your business through a variety of mechanisms – let’s discuss what would be the ideal solution for your business – contact me here piw@wttresults.co.uk

Phil Walker

WTT Results Ltd

07764 658071

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Enabling clients and prospects enthusiastically to say ‘Yes!’ – final post of series

We have reached the final post in this series covering the ALIGNED framework that enables clients enthusiastically to say ‘Yes!’ to doing business with us without us needing to be expert in the (nowadays inappropriate) ways of Sales. It will be brief because it is a very simple point simply put. The final stage of the ALIGNED framework is ‘Decide or die’.

A Assume control
L Learn their situation and desires
I Injuries and pains
G Get commitment
N Nirvana – the Well-Formed Outcome
E Elegant solutions
D Decide or die

Alignment_MandhyanBy this I mean that the prospective client should make a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision. As the professional, you should confidently ask for a decision. Don’t permit the option of thinking about it because, if you allow them to defer their decision, the opportunity is dead to you. Mourn if you must, but move on elegantly, having built a greater connection with your prospective customer. You have had the opportunity to deploy effectively several ‘Weapons of Influence’. You should have used all six of them in a very skilled and engaging way. You will have strengthened the person’s propensity to buy from you in the future.

no or yesThere is no right or wrong here, just reality. There is no failure here, only feedback. If they say ‘no’ you won’t waste time chasing the currently unachievable, but you will have strengthened a relationship. In my experience, a ‘no’ can turn into a subsequent ‘yes’ without me expending any more effort.

By doing your job well, you have substantially improved the likelihood that they will enthusiastically say ‘Yes!’ to you. They will be so enthusiastic that they will become a fan and want to tell others about how great their experience has been. In this case, remember to celebrate!

Remember the words of the old song, ‘don’t you mess with Mister In-Between!’ Any response that is neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’ is Mister In-Between!

accentuate scriptThe seven stages of the ALIGNED framework are available as the Congruent Business Development System™ and the precursor materials based on Robert Cialdini’s ‘Weapons of Influence’ are available as the Congruent Client Attraction System™. Both systems can be delivered into your business in a variety of ways that are tailored to your specific desires, needs and situation. Unsurprisingly, I work with you to use the ALIGNED framework to enable us to determine the best solution for your business. If either system or both prove not to be the ideal solution then I will try to help you find an alternative from another source. I certainly won’t be messing with Mister In-Between!

There is greater detail about the ALIGNED framework in the book ‘Dance with the Elephants’ available from www.dancewiththeelephants.com

 

 

Enabling clients and prospects enthusiastically to say ‘Yes!’ – post 6 of 7

So here we are at last, you are going to be able to fulfil that natural desire to problem-solve, to finally construct your solution, to meet all the needs of your prospective client. We are at the penultimate stage of the ALIGNED framework – ‘Elegant Solutions’.

 

A Assume control
L Learn their situation and desires
I Injuries and pains
G Get commitment
N Nirvana – the Well-Formed Outcome
E Elegant solutions
D Decide or die

aligned posture

Once you have permission to move to the next stage, pause to explain briefly what will happen next. You are going to take a moment to consider everything that has been discussed and will now, for the first time, think about whether or not you can provide the solution that is the best for them. Remind them of what was discussed right at the beginning of your conversation with them – that you will only have them as a client if you have the best solutions for them, and that you will try to find an alternative if you and your company do not have the best solutions for them. At this stage, I may choose to also remind them of my commitment to them (that is, to enable them to be the best they want to be).

Now take some time to weigh up everything you now know. Be creative in building your possible solutions for them. Don’t just trot out in your mind the ‘same old, same old’ for you to consider using. Honour and respect your prospective client by diligently answering the questions ‘Can I provide the perfect fit?’, ‘Can I truly delight them as a client?’, ‘Can this client become one of my fans?’ Ensure your solution is elegant in form, that it enables them to achieve their nirvana and that it addresses any barriers to success you discovered earlier. This is the most important moment in determining whether they will say an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ to you.

Don't sellIn crafting your solution, give them what they want or graciously decline their business. It is time for a congruence check before you outline your proposed solutions. Are you absolutely certain you are the best fit? Have you truly taken into account everything you know? On a scale of 1 to 10, how certain are you? If you do not have the best solution, the perfect way of addressing all their needs and desires, that which will make them an ardent fan and advocate, tell them that and agree that you are not the best provider for them at this time.

If you rate 10, then it’s time to present your proposed solution. How you present your proposal must be congruent with you, so you must develop a way of presenting it that shows your genuine sincerity and your congruence. This is another learnable skill.

What you present should cover your proposed solution, how it will solve the problem and what consequences it will have for your prospective client. Bear in mind your ‘Weapons of Influence’ when presenting your ‘what’. For example, emphasise the scarcity of the totally bespoke solution you have crafted and honed for them alone, if that is what you have done. Explain how the Well-Formed Outcome will be achieved, what life will be like for them as a result and the value they will get, from the least valuable to the highest. (In our previous example, that would be everything from saving time in unproductive conversations, through more sales and more profits, and everything else leading to the more highly valued quality time with their loved ones.) You should also cover the pain that will be taken away and the value that will be created for them as your client. You should outline how your solution elegantly avoids any of the potential obstacles identified earlier. Outline your proposal using appropriate and collaborative language (‘you’, ‘your’, ‘our’, ‘we’ and so on).

jigsawDon’t rush when presenting your solution. Make sure you do so at a pace that is comfortable for your client. Remember to match their words and their body language. Allow them sufficient opportunity to assimilate your solution so that it can become your joint commitment. Then ask if they think they fully understand the solution and the consequent impacts on their pain (using their words) and the value that will be created for them (in their words). If they indicate they do fully understand, and you agree that they do, tell them you know they understand. Specific and explicit agreements should be verbalised, honoured and celebrated.

The next post is the last in this series – ‘Decide or die’.

There is greater detail about the ALIGNED framework in the book ‘Dance with the Elephants’ available from www.dancewiththeelephants.com

Enabling clients and prospects enthusiastically to say ‘Yes!’ – post 5 of 7

We have reached the fifth stage of the ALIGNED framework for enabling clients enthusiastically to say ‘Yes!’ to doing business with us. To manage expectations right from the beginning, we are still not yet at the point of identifying what our solution might be, although we are getting close. So stay focused on the prospective client, and guard against thinking about possible solutions for a little while longer.

A Assume control
L Learn their situation and desires
I Injuries and pains
G Get commitment
N Nirvana – the Well-Formed Outcome
E Elegant solutions
D Decide or die

 Alignment_Mandhyan

Nirvana: the Well-Formed Outcome

The next logical step is to build the Well-Formed Outcome with your prospective client in order to create their nirvana, their state of perfection. The Well-Formed Outcome is their Big Dream, Crafted Well, Engaging All, as outlined in ‘Dance with the Elephants’. Building the Well-Formed Outcome with potential clients is a learnable skill that improves with practice. Remember to get them to express their Well-Formed Outcome using all of their senses – hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting and smelling.

 WFO_1

Over time, you will form your own unique and congruent way of building the Well-Formed Outcome with prospective clients. I am deliberately not giving you the words, questions and interventions that work for me as these are only congruent with me. You must find a way of building the Well-Formed Outcome with prospective clients that is congruent with you.

At the same time, help your prospective client to discover those things that might stop them going ahead. It is far better to recognise these things at this stage. The more skilled you are at building the Well-Formed Outcome, the more committed your client will be to getting around the obstacles that could prevent them achieving their Big Dreams. The bigger the Well-Formed Outcome, the more trivial the potential obstacles seem to the client.

Dream-Big

When you and the client have finished building the Well-Formed Outcome, summarise and reprise it, playing their exact words back to them. Tell the client you think you have fully understood everything. If there is anything at all that you are not totally clear about, resolve that lack of clarity with the client now. Don’t be tempted to proceed based on the 90% you do understand. You must be congruent here – if you have not really understood it all, you won’t be able to decide whether or not you can provide the perfect solution that will truly delight your prospective client and enable them to attain their Well-Formed Outcome. When you are certain you have understood it all and are ready to decide, question them to find out whether they think that you have understood everything. It is important for you to obtain their permission to decide whether or not you have the perfect solution. I might ask questions such as ‘Are you as sure as you can be that I understand?’ or ‘Is there any doubt in your mind?’ When you have their permission, you can move to the penultimate and most important stage. Only now are you finally about to be freed from the confines of staying on task, focusing on them.

We will explore how you can use your newly-found freedom in the next post as we examine the next stage in the ALIGNED framework – ‘Elegant Solutions’.

There is greater detail about the ALIGNED framework in the book ‘Dance with the Elephants’ available from www.dancewiththeelephants.com

 

 

 

Enabling clients & prospects enthusiastically to say ‘Yes!’ – post 4

In this 4th post in a series of 7 covering the ALIGNED framework we reach ‘Get commitment’ on our journey to enabling people enthusiastically to say ‘Yes!’ to working with us without deploying any sales techniques.

A Assume control
L Learn their situation and desires
I Injuries and pains
G Get commitment
N Nirvana – the Well-Formed Outcome
E Elegant solutions
D Decide or die

 

Alignment_MandhyanSo far we have assumed control, learned about their situation and desires, and their injuries and pains. It is now time to find out how much your prospective client would like to change their current world of pain. Will they make the sacrifices needed to move from what they have tried in the past to the wonderful world that will exist when they realise their Big Dreams? The sacrifices may be in the form of financial outlay, changes of behaviour or working with different people (including you) in the future.

Be specific when asking how committed they are. Use questions such as: ‘In order to realise your Big Dream of … (use their exact words), how committed are you to absorbing the pain it will take, on a scale of 1 to 10?’ Don’t be judgemental about their rating, but do challenge their responses to reveal their level of passionate commitment. A rating of 7 or less probably means they are not sufficiently committed. If they answer with an 8 or 9, ask them what would be needed to make them change their answer to a 10. If a client answers quickly with a 10 (or 11 or 12), I will mildly challenge with a gentle ‘Really?’ in order test the veracity of it in their minds.

1 to 10Check they have the necessary power to deliver on their commitments, or can get that power. Help them understand what they can control and what is outside their control. But neither of you should assume that they will be limited by the confines of their span of control. Just because something is not within their direct control does not mean that thing cannot be changed in favour of their Big Dream. It depends on the balance between worth and cost.

So now you are at the point where they really, really, really know what they want. They really, really, really know their pains. They really, really, really are committed to the solutions. They just don’t yet know what the solutions are. Nor do you, if you have truly been focused on questioning and listening, and on building rapport and empathy.

Don’t worry if you have had a fleeting thought about the solution which you had to extinguish to get back ‘on task’. The ability to focus on the task is a learnable skill that comes with practice. Even when you are very skilled at staying ‘on task’, the other-than-conscious mind will occasionally fire a random thought about the solution into your conscious mind. Just get your conscious mind to banish it. Stay with this focus on them to the exclusion of any thoughts of solutions. We are still not at the point to think about solutions, so hold your nerve a little longer yet.

subconsciousWe are exactly half-way through the ALIGNED framework. In the next post, we will go through the next step, ‘Nirvana – the Well-Formed Outcome’.

There is greater detail about the ALIGNED framework in the book ‘Dance with the Elephants’ available from http://www.dancewiththeelephants.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping clients and prospects to say ‘Yes!’ – 3rd post of 7

In this series of posts, I am outlining the ALIGNED framework for enabling people to enthusiastically say ‘Yes!’ to doing business with you. This third post will cover ‘Injuries and Pains’ – the third of the seven stages of ALIGNED.

A Assume control
L Learn their situation and desires
I Injuries and pains
G Get commitment
N Nirvana – the Well-Formed Outcome
E Elegant solutions
D Decide or die

From the second stage, your prospective customer now has a very clear grasp of what they want, and what the value of having it is to them. At the moment, though, they have neither the solution nor the value. So it’s time to connect them with their injuries and pains. The principles in this stage are the same as in the previous stage. The quality of your listening will affect the quality of their thinking. Listen and understand their pain(s) and don’t let any part of your brain start working on solutions.

Good ListeningBuild the value with them – albeit negative value this time. In the last stage of ALIGNED we had the Value Escalator; in this phase it is time for the Pain Spiral. Try to understand not only the symptoms but also the impact. Understand they are wasting time (how much?) in unproductive conversations with prospective customers, but also understand the pain of not spending enough quality time with their loved ones as a result. Do not do what I just did: I went from wasted time to insufficient time with their loved ones in one step. Tease out all the intervening steps (they don’t have enough sales, they don’t have enough profits, they don’t have a stress-free life and so on). Build the (negative) value – their real pain. It is just as important as in the last stage that you give time to the process of discovering just how significant their injuries and pains are.

Pain scale

Your language and body language again need to demonstrate your sincerity, empathy and compassion. Do not diminish your focus on their pain by starting to think about your solutions! Instead give them your time and full attention, and allow them to see that you understand both their injuries and pain and their Big Dreams equally.

Take time to understand what they have tried in the past. Be curious not judgemental, as judgement will conflict with building empathy and rapport. Remember to acknowledge their partial successes as their failures are part of their pain. ‘Failures’ are the way we humans learn best and helping them to understand the feedback their experiences offer them will build deep rapport between you.

It may be useful to contrast and compare their injuries and pains (and the negative pain associated with them) with the benefits of their Big Dreams that you discussed in the second stage, however beware the danger of wallowing in the misery and balance it with the positives of their Big Dreams.

One more reminder, do not think solutions at the stage. Focus instead on them, not on you.

Next time, we’ll move on to stage 4 – the ‘G’ of ALIGNED.

Helping clients and prospects to say ‘Yes!’ – part 2 of 7

In the second post in this series covering the ALIGNED framework for growing your business I will cover the second stage ‘Learn their situation and desires’.

A Assume control
L Learn their situation and desires
I Injuries and pains
G Get commitment
N Nirvana – the Well-Formed Outcome
E Elegant solutions
D Decide or die

You know your prospective customer has identified that they want a solution, but you don’t have enough information yet. It may be that they don’t have enough information yet either. The ALIGNED process is designed to enable both of you to really understand what the ideal solution would be. The process of jointly identifying the desired solution, the full benefits it will bring, and the pain it will take away is the basis of building a strong and mutual commitment to a solution. If the process leads to a mutual understanding that you cannot provide the best solution on this occasion, you will still have built a stronger relationship which may deliver benefits later.

Magic wand

It may be that your prospective customer hasn’t given the time to think through the result they really want. If they had a magic wand, how would they use it? If their wildest dreams came true, how would that be for them? Encourage them to remove all the practicalities that might limit their imagination about what they would really want. Allow and encourage them to dream big. Your focus should be on connecting them with what they would really like to hear, see and feel (and possibly taste and smell) in the future. Do not rush here; rather let them build and build and build. Make sure you are really listening. Clear your mind of any other thoughts than what they are telling you through their words and body language. It is important to use the exact words they use as it really demonstrates you are listening and understanding as if you were in their shoes, and not translating their words into your language. Subtle matching of their body language is also useful, if it remains imperceptible.

While building their Big Dream with them, tease out what they have tried and what the results have been. At this stage, don’t go into too much detail in establishing their problems; and keep well away from presenting, or even formulating, your solution. Focus on them and what they want. Focus on building the rapport and relationship you have with them. Focus on being interested and curious. The quality of your listening will improve the quality of their thinking. Really! Try it.

Listening_Krishnamurth1

While building their Big Dream with them, tease out what will become possible for them when their Big Dream becomes reality. What is the value to them? Again, build this value with them. If they could solve this problem, how would their lives be? Don’t just focus on the removal of problems; in the ‘L’ of ALIGNED, encourage them to describe what positive things they could be doing instead. For example, they might have a problem with the number of great conversations they have with their customers that don’t lead to the customer ordering from them. They feel they waste too much of their time in those conversations. If they could solve that problem, they would not only save wasted time (the problem) but they would also make more sales (value to them). This means they would make more profits (value). That would mean they could have a less stressful time in their business (value). A less stressful time would mean more quality time with their loved ones (value). They would be a better parent (value). They would feel good about themselves, they would be seen as successful and others would envy their quality of life. (I hope you get what is going on here – a process of identifying and building value to them – this is the Value Escalator.)

While building their Big Dream with them, express things in the positive and, by modelling this positive outlook, encourage them to also express things in the positive. Their statements of what they want should be positive, not negative. Negativity can, and will, come later. In this part of the conversation you want to emphasise movement towards a positive goal with high value, not movement away from a problem.

When they are finished building and describing their Big Dream(s), summarise and recap using their words and phrases. Ask them if they think you have expressed things exactly as they intended. Don’t rush, don’t overly summarise and do not destroy the value you have created through having taken the time to build value, by helping them to express what they truly want. You have taken the time and considerable effort to understand them, so let them have the opportunity to appreciate your efforts.

In the next post, we’ll cover ‘Injuries and Pains’.