Pay-off: shift your focus to this and you’ll become more persuasive
Investment: 3 minutes
As with most of the ideas on this blog, this one applies to anyone – that’s you – not just people in sales.
This tip applies when you’re interacting with other people and you need or want a “yes” from them or you simply want to improve how you win people over.
In fact, this tip creates a direct shortcut to achieving your end goal, but most people overlook it precisely because they’re so focused (blinkered?) on their end goal.
Here it is…
I’ve said many times before that every single thing you say or do (or think, if we want to get right to the source) either takes you towards your desired “yes” or away from it.
Unfortunately, many people think that focusing on getting the yes and driving hard towards it is the way to go. (I get it, they’re under pressure. Or they’ve learned from The Wolf of Wall Street. BTW he insists on ‘the straight line’ approach which is the name of his main training programme. But non-sales people usually find it more appropriate and respectful to ‘tack’ from yes to yes.)
When too direct (and not clearly fitting) people say ‘no’
You know what it feels like when someone is driving hard for a yes from you.
It can look self-serving, impatient, irrelevant and risky to yourself. It doesn’t quite feel right and it doesn’t quite ‘fit’.
Besides, it frog-leaps right over all your other pressures and priorities whilst emphasising that this person doesn’t particularly care about those.
So you say no.
Which keeps you safe and protects your priorities. The status quo is seemingly comfier than potentially screwing up.
Let’s get back into the sales person’s shoes…
When your offer fits, people say ‘yes’
At this point you, as the persuader may be thinking that what you need is a small “yes” from the person you’re trying to convince, rather than going direct for the end goal?
Close. Warm. You’re looking in the right area for your shortcut but it has to be a specific type of small yes; it has to be one that improves their agenda, not necessarily yours.
Sales courses often teach you to ask for a small yes that you want – like you’re asking for a small favour. But why do that when you could ask for a yes that’s actually on their agenda?
Momentarily switch your agenda for theirs
The key is to get off your own agenda and find out what’s on theirs. Then, if you can say, do or share anything at all that is likely to help them move their own agenda – or life forwards, then offer it. You’ll likely get a yes.
By doing this you instantly become valuable to them. That’s a seed worth watering.
So how do you do this?
You get rapport with them. You care about their agenda. (They’re your customers – the people you serve and who pay you, so you should kind of care about their agenda anyway? If it helps, their agenda affects yours!) And you become curious to explore where you can help. Don’t just explore the obvious stuff that’s clearly related to the ‘yes’ you’re hoping for. Go off-piste and explore their broader plans too and, where appropriate veer into their personal life if the rapport between you enables it.
You are there to talk business, but you’re both humans too and you may be able to add value in other areas that could enhance your trust and your relationship.
Don’t forget to question their challenges and struggles around what they’re saying. “I’d imagine that’s quite tough?” is a simple leading question you can throw in to almost anything to open them up on their immediate challenges and frustrations.
Then you listen hard and if possible offer an idea or resource to help.
Ideas in the moment are great. But having something to send them after can bond you together even better. You can either mention a resource or tool that might help, or go and find one if you know where to look.
Either way, it’s a reason to keep talking and an opportunity to add value. If well aligned, and offered respectfully, you’ll get a ‘yes’.
Some examples where I have done this if you need them
- my own solutions aside (helping non-sales people to sell) I discovered that one prospect was in the process of recruiting. I asked how they would ensure that they found the right people. They weren’t totally sure yet, so I offered to help them explore some criteria, which they took me up on. They also agreed that finding people with at least some sales capabilities would be useful. So I also offered them some free licenses for my online sales capability self-assessment. When it came to training their people, it became an easy ‘yes’ to get my help.
- I saw some books on a shelf in one prospects office by a certain author. I liked the author too, and saw my favourite book of his missing, so I asked if my prospect had read it. Since he hadn’t, I offered to send the link to it. (On reflection I could have gone a step further and simply bought it for him?) Doing this opened up a common area of mutual interest we could go on to discuss further (and also aligned my values and service by association with this author).
- Exploring broadly with another prospect I realised that they wanted to grow sales capabilities but in fact they were delaying because first they wanted to develop some specific leadership skills with a few of their leaders. So I offered to connect them to a contact of mine. I got the, “yes please” because it fitted well and they began to learn that I was a trustworthy resource.
None of this is that difficult if you know what you’re doing. It can take a little time, because it takes time to build. But the pay-off immediately and along the journey is usually more rewarding than you could imagine.
Don’t forget The Franklin Effect
So, there it is, get off your own agenda and off your own end goal. And discover, deal with and improve what’s immediate on their agenda. Don’t forget to repeat this approach with them where possible and you’ll become a resource, sorry, a person they like talking to. What you should find is that they become more receptive to you. And your relationship and opportunities to help them should grow. At which point, you may want to see what happens when you ask a small favour from them (see the Franklin Effect here). And if you really want a laugh, read the converse of the Franklin Effect at the bottom of the article (here). Amazing.
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