Selling may seem a useful thing only to someone who is a salesman by trade, but this is not the case. Each of us, in our life, is in a situation where we have to “sell” something to someone, whether it is to sell an idea to our partner or to propose a strategy to our employer.
The “Straight Line” system
It may seem impossible, but all sales are equal. Every single sale that we manage to manage can be represented by a simple straight line, which proceeds from left to right. On the left we find the moment of first contact, on the right the moment in which we conclude the sale.
In every sale there are three elements, three basic requirements, also called the “Three Ten”, without which the customer will never arrive to confirm the transaction. The customer must have:
- trust in the product and certainty that it can satisfy its needs;
- trust in us and in our knowledge and competence, and certainty that we care about your needs;
- trust in our company.
Each of these elements, in our client’s mind, must reach a level of 10 on a hypothetical scale of certainty.
When it comes to shopping, people don’t just use logic, they also use emotion. Indeed, in most cases, emotion is the driving force that leads to the decision to buy, and logic takes over only afterwards, to justify the choice made. For this reason it is important to immediately present an impeccable logic, in order to leave the customer free to be guided by emotion.
When we stand in a straight line, we have to guide the conversation. If we fail to do so, we run the risk of going too far, leaving the customer to lead the transaction. This often happens through objections that the client presents to us. It is important to remember that any objection that is presented to us is nothing more than a cover, a veil that hides the real obstacle: uncertainty.
To ensure we are always on the straight line, it is essential to start with a phase of information collection, in order to be able to create a good relationship with the customer and to conduct sales in the best way.
First of all, it is important to understand who our client is and there are seven things we need to know about him:
- his primary and secondary needs;
- his beliefs and beliefs;
- past experiences that can influence his choices;
- its moral values;
- its financial standards;
- the source of his unease;
- your current financial situation;
Once these elements have been identified, we can define the five fundamental principles of the Straight Line method .
- The customer must love your product.
- The customer has to trust you.
- The customer must trust your company.
- The client must have a high level of certainty in the Three Ten – this is his threshold of action.
- The client must have a need or experience discomfort that causes him to act – this is the pain threshold.
The most important four seconds
When we talk to someone for the first time, it takes us a few seconds to decide if we like this person and if we trust him / her. The first seconds of conversation with a client are therefore fundamental, and we must use them to convey three ideas:
- that we are awake and “on piece”;
- that we are extremely excited;
- that we are experts in our sector.
The customer doesn’t want to deal with people who don’t know their product or market; he wants to make sure he is in the hands of the person best suited to satisfy his need, by presenting him with the best possible solution to his problem.
To strengthen this idea, we can present to the customer facts and ideas that can only derive from a strong knowledge of their sector, highlighting the characteristics that make us the right person.
Lead a conversation with tonality and body language
Much of our communication takes place through the words we say, but that’s not all. The intonation with which we pronounce our sentences can profoundly influence the way in which our interlocutor perceives them, and consequently, on how he perceives us.
It is extremely important to have a fluent speech and to pronounce words correctly, especially the specific terms of the sector in which we are operating. A clear and decisive diction serves to strengthen our image of an extremely competent and secure person of one’s own work.
How we can (and why we must) learn to manage our “state”
Human interactions are based on emotion, and the way we deal with a customer. The outcome of our conversations is therefore deeply linked to our ability to activate an emotional “state” that is suitable for the situation.
In terms of sales, there are four key states that we must be able to control, called “the four C’s”: Certainty, Clarity, Security (Confidence) and Courage. Learning to trigger these four states allows us to always face the meeting with the customer in the best way.
One of the best techniques we can use to manage our state is called anchoring , and is part of the NLP practice. This technique teaches us that we can control our state directly and consciously, acting on two elements:
- what we decide to focus on;
- our physiology (posture, facial expressions, breathing, etc.).
4 types of contacts, and how to recognize them
Not all the contacts we have are potential customers. It is important to learn to distinguish the different types of contact, and act accordingly. There are four basic types of contact:
- “hot” buyers – have already decided to buy, and want to act immediately. This is the best type of contact we can find, because it will not present objections;
- buyers “with power” – are not in a serious state of discomfort, but still want or want to buy. The lack of sense of urgency gives them a sense of control over the sale;
- “curious” buyers – the worst kind of contact. This type of contact shows interest, but does not really intend to buy, so it becomes a huge waste of time and resources;
- errors – contacts that we have accidentally received, and that have no interest in our product. Nothing we can say or do will lead to a sale.
Our resources and time will be dedicated only to contacts in the first two groups, while the others will be eliminated from our list as soon as possible.
Create effective presentations
When we present a product or offer to a customer, we must make sure that we do it in the best way. The first step is to establish and maintain a good relationship with our interlocutor. The basis on which the establishment of a relationship is based is the charisma, which is based on three elements: tone of voice, body language and non-idiocy.
Perfecting our presentations is an essential aspect of our role as a salesperson, so it is important to have scripts to follow. Each of our interactions must be planned, we must have certainty at all times of what we will have to say, and how to say it.
Writing a script is a practice that requires training, and surely the first scripts that we write will be reviewed and corrected continuously, but over time our ability will increase.
Equally important is the ability to read from a script without appearing in a plaster cast, instead conveying an air of competence and security.
Here are some tips for making an effective script.
- We avoid “front-loading”. This means that we don’t have to exhaust all the important information at the beginning of the presentation, otherwise we run the risk of not having anything more to say when the customer presents an objection to us.
- We do not describe the characteristics of the product, but rather focus on the benefits that this can bring to our customer.
- Incorporate moments of “pause”, in which the customer can interact with us, asking questions.
- We use phrases that sound natural, even if this means putting grammatical correctness and linguistic formality in the background.
- We try to create a script that has a certain fluidity of movement.
- Let’s never forget to be honest and to respect ethical and moral principles.
- Remember to always highlight the great benefits that the customer will have with minimal effort.
Each sector and each product has its own sales dynamics, so it is important to always write scripts dedicated to each situation (one for the first conversation, one for handling objections, one for asking for order confirmation, etc.).
The importance of becoming skilled in the art of repetition
In most sales, the path to closure will be a constant “struggle” between our efforts to get closer to the order request and the objections that the customer will present to us. Whatever the objection raised by the client, our answer will always be the same: we have to use phrases like: I understand, but let me ask you: “Does this solution make sense to you? Do you like the idea?”
This type of response does not directly address the objection, which, as we have already said, is only a cover to mask uncertainty. In doing so, we are able to bring our customer closer to the straight line, effectively regaining control of the sale.
Repeating this mechanism serves to reduce our client’s threshold of action. There are other ways we can reduce the action threshold:
- offer a solution: “satisfied or refunded”;
- offer a cooling off period;
- use expressions that make it clear to our customer that we will be by their side, and that we will not abandon them as soon as they have confirmed the order;
- use sentences that reverse the client’s objections, minimizing the sense of risk even in the event that the transaction is not successful or the investment does not give the desired results.
Finally, it is important to remember that we absolutely must not make the customer feel that we are putting pressure on them to arrive at the order confirmation. As soon as we realize that the customer is feeling under pressure, we have to step back and reassure them that what they perceive is not pressure, but enthusiasm. As soon as we have reassured them, we can resume the path towards closure.