I love sales, but sales has gotten a bad rap in recent years.
Everyone’s experienced some pushy salesman, felt manipulated, or had some product forced on them they don’t need or want.
And I totally understand from the other side as well, sales makes the world go round and keeps your business alive so it’s understandable that people want to put their products into the hands of as many people as possible.
Now, who likes the sound of a sales approach that means you would never have to get pushy and manipulative, and the people who truly need your product closed themselves?
Well, if you’ve got two eyes and a brain, you’ll see that’s a win-win.
The key, young padawan, is tension.
The difference between tension and pressure
I think it’s important to establish the difference between tension and pressure here.
Pressure in a sales environment tends to be more coercive, pushing the customer into the sale and forcing the close. This kinda selling is the one that people associate with harassment and having crappy products forced on them.
When I talk about tension, I mean bringing a level of discomfort to the conversation so that the customer is motivated to change their current situation.
Being comfortable with discomfort is a pretty counter-intuitive skill, but it’s going to take you far in sales, and in life in general.
So as a salesperson, you introduce a level of discomfort with the way people feel about their current situation. And you don’t dismiss it.
None of this “It’s ok, it’s not that bad, I saw a guy who had it way worse yesterday”. You introduce tension, and you sit with it for a while.
Tension seeks a resolution, and you don’t resolve it by dismissing the problem. The tension dissolves with the sale.
Believe me when I say, tension is the chemistry of sales.
Tension is not only the chemistry of sales, but it is in fact, the chemistry of change.
If people need the product to fix their current situation- they’ll close themselves.
And isn’t that every salespersons dream?
How to do it
This first step is pretty standard- you’ve gotta establish some trust.
I don’t know about you but I don’t have time to build rapport by mirroring body language and asking every person I’m speaking to what they had for breakfast. The beautiful thing about marketing using social media is that people will trust you before you even speak to them, because they will have seen your content where you demonstrate your expertise.. They have a problem they want solved, and you want them to come to you- not your competitor.
Whether you’re blessed with leads that already trust you or not, please do not attempt to sound smart talking about something you know nothing about. People can smell that shit from a mile away, you will look stupid. Instead demonstrate your expertise throughout the sales conversation by asking quality questions.
So what do I mean by quality questions?
We’re not talking a 28-question script.
Four to six thoughtful, insightful questions will do the trick. You want to understand what their problem is.
How is it affecting their life? Is it inconvenient? Painful? Embarrassing? Are they spending less time at home with their family because of the problem? Is it costing them money?
Meaningful questions will give you meaningful answers.
Your questions should take up no more than 30% of the conversation- spend the other 70% listening intently.
Once you understand the problem and how it’s affecting their life, and you’ve gotten proof from them to confirm that this is true, turn your attention to a resolution.
Again with the questions; what is their desired outcome? If their problems disappeared today, how would that impact them positively? What would a resolution look like to them? More money? More time with family? Feeling good about themselves?
If the pain of the problem and potential upside at this point is strong enough to warrant your solution, then, and only then, we move forward in the conversation.
How much are they willing to invest to fix this problem? Does your product or service make sense as the solution to their situation? If yes, you’re in the perfect environment to guide them toward something you have that will solve this horrible, inconvenient, painful problem.
This is how you create natural tension. It’s not a tension between you and the customer- there’s no bad blood there. But the tension sits between the customer and the problem, and also between the customer and the resolution.
The customer now wants to resolve that tension, and is motivated to change their current situation. They’ve basically just outlined their own stick-and-carrot situation.
If, for whatever reason, they’re still umming and ahhing and “I’ll think about it”-ing, then you’ve got a whole lot of evidence you can point to that there’s a real issue here with huge upside and that it doesn’t make any sense for them to not take action.
And if they’re not ready to make a decision at this point you’ve simply got to be willing to walk away. There’s only one of you, and potential customers? There’s millions of them. You’re the prize, they’re the hunter.