When I finally figured out I WAS in sales, (see my post here on that) I began to study sales techniques to figure out how to be better at it. Unfortunately, I listened to too many people telling me to do the wrong thing. Things like:
The “mimic” technique:
This is where if your prospect sits back in his seat, you do the same. When the prospect sits forward, you sit forward too. Yeah, so when the prospect needs to go to the bathroom, am I supposed to go too???
The “repeat” technique:
Simply repeat the last couple words of what your prospect just stated. This will show the prospect you’ve been listening and when you speak in the prospects actual words, she’ll be more likely to buy. Uh huh.
The “assumptive” close technique:
We’ve all heard this one. It goes back decades and there is some validity in it, I must say. But the way some coaches train you on this is not assumptive at all, it’s more badgering. I’m not a badgering kind of guy. So this is a non-starter.
The “If I could show you how…” technique:
This one is supposed to get the prospect to think “Wow! I never knew that was possible. Of course, I want to buy your product!” because you introduced her to something new that before you came into her life she was ignorant of.
The wording alone for this technique always bothered me. I just imagined a guy saying to me if he could “show me how to save money on car insurance would I be interested?” Well…I suppose I would if I believed that you had MY best interest at heart. But the fact that you state this would seem to me there is a catch. Why don’t you just show me how to begin with???
The One Time Offer/Price Goes Up Tomorrow/You Must Act Now! technique:
I always hated this one because it plays on peoples fears. The annuity companies I used to represent would market this ALL THE TIME as if the rates they were offering today would never come back unless your clients gave them money TODAY!
Every business has some kind of sales strategy with this tactic. The reason why is because it does work. The fear of missing out is a huge psychological advantage in sales. People just don’t want to miss out. Or lose that great deal. So sometimes this tactic will work to get them off the fence.
The problem with this tactic though is it’s very transactional and mainly for a one-time deal. In relationship sales, you may be able to get away with this once with clients who know and trust you, but that’s it.
Need to hear seven No’s before a Yes technique:
Oh I can’t tell you how much I despise this one. What this says is you need for your prospect to tell you NO multiple times before he will tell you YES. Essentially, your prospect doesn’t know what he’s missing until you repeat the sales pitch over and over, and over, and over…
Bad sales leaders will then cite false statistics that most sales people give up after the 2nd attempt, thus implying those sales professionals are leaving sales on the table because well “you need to hear 7 No’s before you get a yes!”
With this kind of training is it any wonder why most sales people leave the business? If you called me 7 times thinking that “just 1 more no from Josh, will mean I have the sale!” we would not be in good graces towards each other, if you know what I mean.
Badgering is NEVER a good sales technique no matter how many times silly sales managers say this stupid quote.
And many, many other techniques too
I tried them all. And hated every, single one because they didn’t feel right. They all seemed to me to be so disingenuous. If I wouldn’t be able to sell it this way to me there was no way I’d be a success in trying to sell to others.
For the first 5 years or so of my professional career, I was a middling producer. I have a decent enough personality and I am honest so my clients would trust me enough to give me some business. I did well enough to keep my job but never much more than that. It was always a concern of mine where the next piece of business would come from too.
Don’t be Ol’ Gill from The Simpsons
In fact, my biggest fear was being that desperate salesman. Like Ol Gill from The Simpsons, who is always trying to make just one sale.
What Changed My Professional Life
One day though, in 2004, I was in a sales training class in Baltimore MD when I came across an old cassette tape set of Aaron Hemsley’s The Psychology of Maximum Sales Performance. And this changed everything for me.
Now, this lecture series is dated back to the early 80s and initially I didn’t think I’d get much out of it. In fact, Aaron himself said you should avoid “old” sales training courses because the research on the human brain is changing so quickly that the old stuff is just not relevant anymore.
However, I was driving back and forth to Baltimore from Harrisonburg, VA so I had time to listen in my car and gave it a shot.
Focus on INPUTS not outputs, or end results
Dr. Hemsley’s techniques are incredible. In a nutshell his entire premise is that you can’t control what other people do but you can control what you do. So focus on your INPUTS and forget about the OUTPUTS. Meaning that if you should track how many prospecting calls you make NOT how many sales you make.
You can’t control the sale, but you can control how many times you present. The more presentations you make the more likely you’ll land a sale. It’s a numbers game.
This turned everything on its head for me. I was so focused on getting a “Yes” from a prospect or client that I thought if I used the right manipulation tactics or something I could manage to control what someone else did. But I can’t do that! The old saying is “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” is true. I can show you all day long how my product will help you but I can’t get you to say YES no matter what kind of tricks I try.
And it would be depressing when I walked away from a presentation thinking I could have done something different and I would have had a sale. It made me doubt myself. “If I only did THIS, or THAT, I would have closed it!” I’d tell myself.
Also, now, after being told no, I’d put that “prospect” on my drip list and reach out to him on occasion to see if his mind had changed. After all, I’d need 7 no’s to finally get that yes. But contacting that guy again and again was just embarrassing. I HATED it! I hated the idea of pestering some guy who already told me no. This may seem crazy talk to you but I assure you if you HATE something you certainly won’t be very good at it, for very long.
Find those who will say YES
Hemsley changed everything. He taught me to focus on finding those who are more likely to say yes and you will increase sales.
How do you do that though??? Don’t waste your time talking to people who said NO. Find those who will say YES. It’s that simple and it’s revolutionary. But you have to find the people who will say yes and that means you must talk to enough people so that the ones who will say yes actually hear from you. This means you need to increase your prospecting.
The problem, of course, is that most sales people avoid prospecting because they do not like being told no. No hurts our pysche. So, Hemsley shares with you how to make it a game so you don’t take hearing no personal. It’s literally brain manipulation, i.e., psychological. But once you get it, you’ll be like, “Man, how come I never thought of that!”
You WILL increase your prospecting by shifting focus
Now, using Hemsley’s training, you go into prospecting with almost an “I don’t care” attitude because you expect to hear a ton of nos. In fact, you demand it because you know it’s a numbers game and if enough people say no to you, there will be a few that do say yes. Because you’ve trained your brain to avoid caring what the prospect says, knowing full well the vast majority will say no, you are more able to make even more prospecting approaches which means you’ll get even more yes’s ultimately.
Ironically, and this is amazing, because now you don’t care if a prospect says NO or not, because you know you MUST hear a bunch of no’s, you actually come across more confident and you are basically creating that scarcity image that we know works in sales.
Simple Call Script
I say, “Mr. Smith, I have a great product. That will do this, that and the other thing for you. Do you want it?”
Mr. Smith, “No I think I’m good.” Or “Let me think about it.”
Me, “Okay. Thanks so much for your time.” Or “Okay, here’s my website. Call me with any questions.”
Now, I go on to find someone else because there IS someone out there who needs my service. I will not waste time hitting Mr. Smith 6 more times like traditional sales managers would tell us to do. First of all that will tick him off. Secondly, it makes me feel small and I don’t like feeling small. After all, I’m NOT Ol’ Gill. (See above).
However, and this is important, could there possibly be a chance that Mr. Smith has a second thought at some point? I’ve had this happen. Where a prospect who said no initially actually turned around at a later time? Don’t forget when people feel they are being sold they immediately put up their defenses and say no even if they actually do need what you’re offering. It’s human nature to resist a sale. But after they realize you’re not a typical sales guy, sometimes, just sometimes, they might have a second thought. (Now, I’d never suggest you build a sales pipeline on this happening of course.)
Here’s what you SHOULD be doing
Focus on what you can control, which are your inputs. Do not even think about the outputs which you can not control. When you focus on things outside your control it can dampen your energy, make you come across more desperate, maybe even drive you out of the business.
Inputs are all that matters. Inputs being how many people did you talk to today about your services. Track your inputs Outputs are the end results. Forget them. They will come in time.
Inputs, inputs, inputs, what you can control. Not getting enough sales??? Increase your inputs. It’s that simple.