Ditch the pitch. Start a problem-solving conversation.
“What gets you to $100,000 isn’t the same as what gets you to $1,000,000.” We’ve all heard that saying, but what does it mean? Simply put, pivots and tweaks are continuously needed over the lifespan of a company to continue to grow. It’s common for entrepreneurs and salespeople to find themselves at a plateau after things have been going well for a while, or for them to wonder if there’s more they could be doing to increase their sales success.
The hard truth is that no one will ever be 100% perfect at sales. There is always room for improvement, which is why there have been so many sales courses and sales books published. In addition to the changing lifespan of your work as a salesperson, the modern-day consumer is also constantly changing, too. Many of them know sales tactics simply from the number of times they’ve been pitched to, and they’re tired of feeling like they’re being put through a bait and switch. Consider adding these three sales tweaks for a significant ROI on your efforts.
1. Ask questions that make the prospect say “no.”
Picture this. You’re in the middle of a busy day when you get a call that you think is the laundromat, but it ends up being a salesperson. They’re talking about the latest updates to your keyboard, which you’re marginally interested in, but you’re too busy to keep listening and you’re not going to make a decision today. You know they want you to say “yes.” This isn’t always a “yes, I’ll buy it,” but, any type of “yes” will do, even a “yes, I’m interested.” Because of that, you bite your tongue and don’t allow yourself to say it. You mentally tell yourself that if you’re still interested later this week, you’ll look it up on your own.
This is the psychology behind why many prospects will skirt around an answer. So, you have to change how you approach them and ask questions that make them say “no.” It’s a small tweak for big results. Chris Voss is the author of Never Split the Difference, a book in which he divulges the secrets he learned as an FBI hostage negotiator. He always says to ask questions that are intentionally reversed, such as, “Would you prefer that you lose sales this year?” This makes the prospect think again, and when they say “no,” they’re more likely to trust you.
2. Knock out the entire concept of a sales pitch.
As aforementioned, prospects can feel your pitch coming from miles away. You have all the benefits, features, bells and whistles of your product or service memorized like the back of your hand — and the prospect simply doesn’t care. Think of it this way. Imagine that your vacuum cleaner is broken but your in-laws are coming over tonight. You don’t care what vacuum cleaner you get, you just need one. You don’t have the time or the care to learn about all the features this extra-snazzy vacuum cleaner has.
Customers buy themselves out of pain, meaning they’re looking for solutions to their problems. This is why Erik Fisher, founder of the Intelligent Sales Secrets Academy and a top 1% salesperson for 10 consecutive years, says sales should be a conversation with a prospect trying to consult them on a solution to their problem rather than pitching to them.
“Pitching shouldn’t be in the equation,” explained Fisher. “Seek to first understand their problem, then come up with a solution with them. What you’re selling should be secondary to solving their problem. When you approach high-level decision-makers with this attitude, there’s a trust there that always leads to tenfold better results.”
3. Play off the personality type of the prospect.
Adam Grant, author and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has found continuously that ambiverts do best in sales. Ambiverts are individuals who can oscillate between being an extrovert and being an introvert. In fact, Grant’s research found that ambiverts make 24% more than introverts and 32% more than extroverts, according to Vonage. The secret to this? People get along better with their own personality type. If you’re an introvert, the last person on earth you want to have a conversation with is an over-the-top, enthusiastic extrovert. And, if you’re an extrovert, you’re easily bored by the withdrawn, quieter introvert type.
But in sales, you can’t pick the personality type of the prospect. You have no idea who is waiting on the other side of the line. What you can do, however, is act like an ambivert — even if you identify more so with an extrovert or an introvert. Take cues from the energy level of the prospect, then mirror it to them so that they aren’t overwhelmed or underwhelmed.
Implement these tweaks in the coming weeks to see massive payoffs and results. Remember: Selling is simply about communicating with other humans. Strive for connection and problem-solving, and you’ll win more times than you lose.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.