This is a follow-up to my blog post, Do Not Create Resistant Donkeys! in which I introduced WEAC and STRONG sales tactics (mnemonics coined by me). WEAC tactics can turn your Prospect into a “donkey”, resistant to change, while STRONG tactics help unleash your Prospect’s inner racehorse, galloping across the sales finish line. This is a follow-up to a webinar we delivered.
In a series of blog posts, I explore how salespeople can employ STRONG tactics to put the Prospect in charge of change and feel empowered or strong. In my previous post, Offer encouragement for change if the Prospect decides to take action, I focused on the O in STRONG sales tactics.
Next stop is N:
The change process can be a vulnerable experience for a Prospect. He or she may be vigilant of being judged negatively—as not being smart, brave, experienced, or capable enough to manage the change process. The DANGER is that your Prospect may avoid change entirely in order to avoid feeling this way. Furthermore, if your prospect feels judged, he or she will not honestly share information and feelings with you—further derailing the process.
- Avoid “hot words”.Salesperson#1: “Wow, that is a horrible problem! If you don’t know who’s reading your emails, how do you know whom to call first? You must waste a lot of time!”
Salesperson#2: “When you don’t know who’s reading your emails, how do you organize your day each morning and decide whom to call first?”
There is quite a bit of judgment in #1 such as the use of the “hot” words “horrible” and “waste”. When a Prospect feels judged, he or she may get stirred up and decide to go into shutdown mode. He or she may feel annoyed or embarrassed at being judged or just overwhelmed and hopeless by the gravity of the problem. Once this happens, your Prospect’s main goal is to stop feeling bad—as opposed to being motivated to make a change.
There is curiosity and a supportive stance in #2. The Prospect is more likely to relax and focus on the problem at hand instead of needing to cope (via shutdown mode) with all kinds of negative emotions. Furthermore, he or she is more likely to take the time to explore the problem further and will thereby have more “emotional bandwidth” to be able to listen to possible solutions.
- Avoid sarcasm
- Use validating language such as: “I get that.” “That makes sense.” “Sure.” “Yep.”
- If you find yourself getting frustrated with your Prospect, STOP and ask yourself, “Am I judging my Prospect?” (“They are never going to change! They just don’t get it!”) If the answer is “yes”, then a great way to shift your attitude is to adopt a CURIOUS stance. “I would like to understand more about this concern that you have. When did it begin? Can you say more about this?”
- Avoid leading questions in which there is clearly a preferred or desirable answer. Such a question implies that not making a change is an undesirable option-hence the Prospect feels judged unless he or she responds affirmatively to your question.INSTEAD OF: “Wouldn’t it be better if you just took the plunge and made a change now?”TRY: “I have had clients with similar concerns. Would you like to hear about how they dealt with such concerns and how they are feeling now?”
- Do not be afraid of “negative” talk. If your Prospect is concerned that “it might not be the right time”, go ahead and reflect that back. You may be surprised. When presented in a nonjudgmental way, it may actually mobilize your Prospect toward a deeper consideration of both sides and ultimately mobilize him or her toward change.
- Listen to yourself: Are you truly open to hearing everything on your Prospect’s mind?
Peggy Kriss, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Newton, Massachusetts and a consultant to VisibleGains. Stay tuned for more psychology informed blogs by Dr. Kriss.