A few weeks ago I was onsite at a company that had hired me to train their sales team on how to stop using traditional selling and start using the Unlock The Game trust-based selling approach.
After one coaching session, one member of the sales team came up to me and said, “Ari, your approach makes complete sense – but I’m afraid I’ll lose sales if I stop being aggressive and start being passive!”
Whenever I hear a comment like that, I want to scream, because it means that the person just doesn’t yet understand that removing pressure from the sales process doesn’t mean being passive!
But…I didn’t scream. I took a deep breath and then explained that our approach is the reverse of passive.
Rather, it’s an active attempt to create pressure-free conversations with prospects.
However, to do that we must eliminate behaviors and language that prospects can perceive as “aggressive.”
We all know what these are — continual e-mail and voicemail “follow-ups” in which salespeople try to pin down the status of a potential deal – is one common example.
The problem is that prospects react to aggressive, or perhaps we should say “over-aggressive” sales behaviors by withdrawing and evading us.
Our Mindset and trust-based approach actually takes the “middle ground” between passive and aggressive by being authentically unassuming, yet effective – and that this is the most stress-free and effective way to sell.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that you have to shift away from assuming that every prospect is a fit for your solution.
It’s sort of like the legal concept of “being innocent until proven guilty.”
We can’t afford to make any assumptions about “fit” until our conversation with the prospect indicates that we’ve mutually arrived at that conclusion.
The aggressiveness that turns off potential clients sets in when you assume, every time you have a sales conversation, that you have a solution for them.
Your tone of voice and languaging gives them that message long before they’ve even had a chance to agree that they have a problem you might be able to help them solve.
But if you can manage to find that middle ground of not assuming anything while also communicating in a low-key, unassuming manner, you’ll discover a whole new effectiveness you could never have imagined.
Can prospective clients sense when you’re assuming too much?
Sure they can – because most of us have been conditioned to present or talk about our solution as a way to engage prospects so they’ll reveal their problems to us.
But that logic is completely flawed, because when you launch into your solution to someone who doesn’t trust you yet, all you do is allow them to pigeonhole you as a stereotyped “salesperson”.
So how do you make this concept of being unassuming but effective a reality?
First, learn to start conversations by focusing 100 percent on generating discussions around your prospect’s problems, rather than pitching your solution the second you hear an opening.
Second, learn to begin those conversations by converting the benefits of your solution into problems that your solution can solve.
Third, after you and your prospects have identified a problem or problems, you can then engage in a discussion about whether fixing those problems is a priority.
It’s only at that point that prospects have finally given you implicit permission to share your solution with them.
Jumping in with solutions prematurely will only land you back in the trap of being perceived as “aggressive.”
Challenge your conditioning to “jump” into a sales opportunity and begin to align yourself with your prospect’s world.