When we look at selling today, we have to understand that we are in what I call a “post trust era.” Customers are so used to being sold 24 hours a day, seven days a week that they are now more cautious and skeptical of salespeople than at any past time. There is no longer a level of implicit trust. Every customer has a story of a time that they were scammed or harassed by a pushy salesperson, and they want to protect themselves from believing in what a salesperson says so easily again. In fact, they’ve had so many experiences of pushy salespeople trying to cram their solution down their throat that they get turned off anytime they feel someone is trying to convince them of anything. This is why so many say they dread even dealing with a salesman at the dealership, for example!
Sales has become a “push, pull dynamic.” A pushy salesperson tries to push the prospect into buying their solution. This is how the traditional model of selling, the old model, has taught salespeople how to sell. It’s done by presenting the features and benefits of the product or service, then pushing the prospect to recognize why they should buy, and aggressively responding to their concerns with more pushing rather than listening to what the prospect is saying.
The new model of selling is Neuro Emotional Persuasion Questioning. This works as a “pull” — but it isn’t you as a salesperson ‘pulling’ the prospect to purchase. Rather, you are, through your skilled questions, getting your prospect to pull you in, wanting to engage with you. The NEPQ model guides the prospect through a series of questions intended to help them emotionally persuade themselves that they need what you’re selling. This works with human nature, as I created it based on my own background and years of studying human psychology and behavioral science.
And specifically, the new model is no longer about the quantity of the calls you make or how many contacts you reach. It’s about the QUALITY of your conversations and your ability to bring out their emotions by asking skilled questions that help your prospects go deep into the conversation, which pulls out their emotions or their feelings side. It’s about how good you are at creating TRUST and detaching yourself from the expectation of making a sale. This allows you to become open to your potential customers. You’ll learn what their problems are, what’s causing those problems, how those problems are affecting them and you’ll be able to see if your solution will help them.
“A Numbers Game” and an Assumptive Sale
Where did the “numbers game” concept come from? I actually believe that several decades ago, a sales manager somewhere told his salespeople that selling is a “numbers game” in order to make them feel better about themselves after facing constant rejection 95% of the time. Isn’t it supposed to be how many calls you make and how many contacts you can reach that will determine your success in selling?
When you’re going for numbers — that number of phone calls per day or a revenue goal to beat other salespeople on your team — you show up differently to the sales conversation. You show up self-oriented. Especially now in the Post Trust Era, your prospects can feel if they’re just another phone call for you to hit your sales numbers. They can feel when they’re being pushed towards a close so you can make a commission. They also feel it especially when you are “Assuming the Sale.” I hate to break it to you but according to the data,”assuming the sale” is very low on the persuasion scale, especially if you are in a more complex selling environment. These techniques force it to be a numbers game because they turn off so many of your prospects and cause them to run the other way.
Any training that teaches you to always “assume” the sale and play the numbers game is just outdated training that was taught in the dinosaurs ages by gurus who haven’t been in sales for decades or they are newer sales trainers who just copy and pasted what they old gurus taught in the past.
Do you think your potential client can feel when you’re trying to assume the sale? You bet they do! They will always feel the sales pressure when you start assuming the sale. So, what happens when they do? They start throwing out objections right? The question has to be asked: if you’re getting all these objections, who exactly is causing this? You are … because of the way in which you were taught how to communicate.
Imagine the reverse. Say that a salesperson calls you and you begin a conversation about a home security system they’re selling. You’re a bit interested, but you definitely want some more information and you haven’t quite felt that hair-on-fire need or desire to buy. They haven’t yet gotten you to emotionally persuade yourself on why you need the product, or how the product will solve some of your potential challenges of not having it. Rather, they’ve presented all the features and benefits but haven’t really asked much about you and what you might be looking for. You know everything about the product but don’t understand at all how it can help you.
And then, they say, “Ok, I'll go ahead and schedule this. Do you want one of our team members to come install the security device on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning?”
This is a classic example of assuming the sale, using an “option close” — when the salesperson assumes that you’re interested, and then acts like you automatically want it. Now, the pressure is on! And, even if you originally were a little bit interested, their pushiness — and making you one of the ‘numbers’ in their numbers game — has completely turned you off to both them and the company. Assumptive selling very rarely works, and almost always causes objections from your prospect. And, they certainly make both the prospect and the salesperson uncomfortable in the process.
Contrast this with if the salesperson asked quality skilled questions to find out if what they are offering will help the potential customer. The energy of the conversation is completely different. They show that they care about you and your situation, rather than cramming their solution down your throat. Remember this in your own sales process when you’re selling to people. Behavioral science tells us that we are least persuasive when we tell and push — rather, we must seek to understand people and guide them to pull us in.
Guide The Prospect Through An Emotion-Based Dialogue Instead
Seek to meet the prospect where they are, understand their current situation, and let them convince themselves that they need what you’re selling. The most persuasive form of sales is Dialogue which relies on pulling out emotion from your prospect. This is done through a series of questions that help them to understand their own problem and the potential solutions. To avoid the numbers game, stop asking just surface level questions. Instead, ask questions geared at evoking an emotional response, as buyers purchase based on their emotions, not logic.
You’ll notice very quickly a dramatic increase in sales and your income. Why? Because for the first time in a long time, someone is genuinely interested in the prospect and what they are looking for. This is in contrast to when they deal with typical salespeople who just try to stuff their agenda down their client’s throats. They feel your intent and they’ll start to lean on you because you’ve become the trusted authority in their mind.
Do not underestimate the power of skilled questions that establish trust. After all it doesn't matter how many calls you make in a day. All that matters is how many quality conversations you've had and sales from those.