STOP selling on your terms. START selling on theirs.
Stacey was talking about her ‘failure’ to land a client…
“I must be charging too much or else I said something to turn him away. I thought Jon was ready to sign the contract, but it’s been three days and he hasn’t contacted me yet.
“Wait a minute, Stacey. You can’t just assume that things have fallen through like that. There are lots of reasons why he might not have got back to you. Have you tried calling him?
“No.” Stacey’s voice was glum. “This is what happens all the time. I think prospects are excited to work with me, but then they disappear.”
Stacey was making a common assumption that was killing her results… and her enthusiasm. Maybe you have caught yourself thinking the same thing:
She assumed that her prospects were as preoccupied with this one problem and its solution as she was.
Your Prospect’s Reality
The truth is that whatever problem you solve for clients is just one aspect of their business. They are busy fulfilling their responsibilities and solving a range of problems so even if the problem you solve is urgent, it’s not the only thing they are thinking about.
How to Handle This Reality and Make Everyone Happy…
- Follow up consistently. If necessary use more than one mode of communication. Your desire not to be a pest may be holding both you and your prospect back from achieving your desired outcomes. Presumably you have already had a conversation during which your prospect demonstrated their need of a solution and you explained your expertise in that area. Therefore, you already have a clear invitation to be involved. Don’t back away until they tell you to do so. Silence does not equal rejection.
- Ask questions and discover exactly what your prospect needs to make a decision. The chances are that their decision making strategy is different from your own and it’s your job to discover what it is and tailor your communication to meet their style.
These two simple techniques can transform your business results because suddenly you discover that the problem was never your solution or your price, it was ‘just’ a communication problem.
The Importance of Communication in Business… Not Just in Sales
I coach a lot of management and project teams, as well as sales teams because effective internal and external communication lies at the heart of business success… and is responsible for many failures as well.
Here are some of the key elements required for successful communication:
- Understanding your own preferred communication styles and strategies;
- Identify others’ preferred communication styles and strategies;
- Effectively use a variety of communication styles and speak to different strategies;
- Ask questions so you discover what people are really thinking rather than assume you know that;
When I asked Stacey how she responded when people seemed to ‘disappear’ and whether she followed them up and asked questions like ‘What do you still need to help you make a decision?’ Stacey’s expression said everything I needed to know.
She was judging her prospects by herself. Since she made decisions quickly after one discussion and hated saying ‘no’ she assumed that silence meant, “I’m definitely not interested but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”
Things might not have changed, but she was facing a real shortfall so she decided to call Jon and ask him if he was still interested in her proposal.
“You were right. He wasn’t trying to shut me off!” was Stacey’s text to me that afternoon.
Communication is just as important in teams… and it’s even more important to know what it takes to get your team members on board since you’ll probably be working on many new ideas and projects over time.
Maybe you only need to hear an idea once before you evaluate it and make a decision, but Sally needs to hear it at least three times… and Jim will need to be reassured constantly that it’s the right move. Once you understand the dynamics you’re dealing with you can build your communication around them and you’ll find it easier to get the support and resources you need.
Communication Makes Good Things Happen
You won’t win every deal, and you won’t get support for every idea, but if you know how to identify other people’s communication styles and strategies, ask good questions that enable others to express their opinions and needs, and have a variety of tools to help you communicate effectively you’ll soon discover that more exciting things happen around you than ever before.