When you have a sales team, the reputation of both you and your company are entirely in the hands of your sales representatives when they make calls and communicate to your potential customers on your company’s behalf. As such, the way that they are selling is critically important.
If you’re like other salespeople, you have thrown together a script that talks about how great your product and service is and probably asks a few questions as well. Even if the script has a good success rate, by incorporating certain questions within it, you could double, triple, or more the results your team is getting. Many will say, “I incorporate thoughtful questions into the script” or “But we are still hitting our sales targets monthly!” While this may be the case, there is still an opportunity to further embolden your sales team and their techniques, so that they are more productive and sell even more.
Not only will this help your bottom line, but it may help salespeople stay longer. If a new salesperson is continually facing objections and rejection, they may be more likely to quit. Research has found that people enjoy what they feel that they are good at, which is why so many conflate their talents with their passions. Imagine how encouraged and confident your sales team will be when they are diffusing and preventing objections from even happening and closing deals left and right — and imagine what could be done for your company as a result.
Trust in America is Dead
This is why it’s so necessary to make a change: trust has died in America when it comes to salespeople. While this may sound like a BOLD statement, it’s based on years of research and thousands of conversations with leaders of financial firms, Fortune 500 companies, sales professionals, CEO's, politicians, and even charities. 2008 was when the decade’s long erosion when trust finally hit its breaking point.
As a result, EVERYTHING has now changed for salespeople and communicators. So, what does all this mean for us? Well, the consequences are clear. Regardless of what you and your team sells, the bar for credible communication has been raised through the roof. Gone are the days in which salespeople could just pick up the phone and call a company that would take the call and listen. Gone are the days where you can sell your benefits and features, tell your story, give presentations, create a vision, and talk down your competitors.
Gone are the days in which you could just sell anything. Those were the days of boiler room communication like you saw in the movie, “Wolf Of Wall Street”, where you could remind your prospects of patriotism, the American Dream, rainbows, unicorns, and puppy dogs, and they would just buy from you.
Decades ago it wasn't unusual for TV ads to be a few minutes long, or for insurance salespeople to visit us in person. Now, we can click on a banner ad and in a few minutes we can buy insurance online in seconds. After, of course, cross-comparing several different insurance options, reading online reviews, and asking our friends for advice. Consumers are making purchasing decisions on their own more than ever because of the sheer amount of information available at their fingertips.
In this new Post Trust Era, we have reduced phone conversations to messages, messages to texts, and texts to symbols and emojis. Thanks to these modern day technological feats, modern day salespeople not only have a higher burden of credibility but far less time to build it.
As a result, consumers look at salespeople very differently than they did in decades past. They challenge your team’s credibility before they even listen to what you say. They look for contradictions instead of reasons to believe you. Their defenses are up. They’re wiser and ready to assume from the very beginning that you are out to get them, to manipulate them into doing something they don't want to do. They also have far less patience. Because they can get information on their own terms in the palm of their hands through their smartphones, they don’t want to listen to what you have to say. All of these factors present a challenge to sales teams looking to up their productivity.
How to Implement More Persuasive Practices
Rather than handing your sales teams a script talking about your features and benefits of your product, I strongly urge sales leaders to commit to the learning of what I call NEPQ, or Neuro-Emotional Persuasion Questioning. Even if your script currently contains questions intended to feign interest in a prospect, they can usually see right through it. Rather, NEPQ helps to orient the conversation in the prospect right off the bat. Anyone can learn how to use and go through them with a little practice, and the results will skyrocket your sales team’s productivity. It helped me to earn $2.4 million in commissions the first year that I mastered i and I was a W-2 salesperson, I didn’t even own the business.
NEPQ incorporates questions such as connecting questions, problem awareness questions, and solution awareness questions to guide the prospect through the emotions of recognizing a potential problem or lack, identifying the emotional need and desire to fix this lack, and understanding logically why it is so necessary for them to do so. NEPQ is so effective because of this question-guided process, and only 5 percent of the questions are focused on-closing. As a result, prospects feel that the salesperson is a trusted authority calling to help them rather than trying to stuff their solution down their throat.
This trust is critical. Because we now live in the post-trust era where trust is hard to come by between salespeople and prospects, becoming a trusted salesperson can do wonders for a company’s credibility. Following NEPQ is the best way to get started, so learn more about the specific questions at www.7thlevelHQ.com.
However, here are some general principles that can serve you and your team.
- Don’t sound like you’re reading from a script. Prospects can feel when they are on the phone with someone who sounds robotic, because they are simply reading off the questions they are supposed to ask — especially the cringeworthy ‘icebreaker’ questions, like, “How are you doing today?” No prospect wants to stay on the phone for this. Instead, talk as if you’re speaking with a neighbor or acquaintance.
- Ask questions and allow the prospect to speak more than you talk. I tell salespeople that the prospect should be doing 80 percent of the talking. Yes, that can sound like quite a lot since they aren’t the one selling anything — but NEPQ is rooted in helping the prospect persuade themselves… in other words, sell to themselves! It’s up to the salesperson to ask the right questions to get them to speak the right answers, and hear what you want them to hear from their own mouths.
- Aim to help. And finally, remember that a salesperson's role is to be both a problem finder and solver… not just a product pusher. Make sure that your salespeople each believe in the problem that your product or service solves. This will come through in a conversation, making the prospect more likely to purchase and your company’s authenticity and credibility more likely to shine through.