By SEED SPOT Mentor Mike Toney of Conquest Training Systems
Sales: Is there a Light Switch in this Big, Dark Room?
Imagine you are in a huge, windowless warehouse that is completely dark. You are told, “There is a light switch in here somewhere. Go find it!”
This is what it’s like to be a salesperson. How would you solve such a puzzle?
Your instincts would probably tell you to break the problem into smaller parts and start by searching the perimeter. Notice you have started by creating a system, which is what we tend to do as humans.
This metaphor very accurately illustrates the job of a salesperson, which is to find and close a client amidst a sea of people.
This big, dark room can be full of plentiful obstacles, like:
- Targeting the prospect
- Getting past the gatekeepers and voicemail barriers to meet the prospect
- Disarming the defensive nature of people to hide the truth so you can have an open conversation
- Finding a problem to fix or compelling reason for someone to buy what you have
- Determining if someone is willing and able to spend the money needed to fix the problem
- Exploring the nature and process of decision making and who else is involved
- Preparing a proposal, quotation or statement of work that is convincing
- Proving that you can – and are – the best solution to fix the problem someone has, with a presentation, demo or sample project
- Making sure you set up the relationship for long-term success.
Over the next several posts, I want to share my thinking about each of these phases of selling because they each have their own unique challenges. If you don’t solve each aspect, you will never find the light switch (i.e. close a deal)! Let’s start by looking at how a salesperson approaches conversations around money…
“Your Money Hang-ups Block Your Sales”
You have just spent 30 or so minutes bonding with your prospect and discovering what his needs and pains are. Now you know it’s time to explore the topic of money resources.
What happens next?
Do you dive in or do you start to think, “This is awkward,” “I can tell they have the money,” or, “It would seem pushy if we discussed money this early”?
If you ever find yourself avoiding the money conversations with self-talk like I have listed, you are normal! Most of the executives and salespeople that I coach will avoid something in this realm at some point.
There are two primary reasons for this avoidance pattern:
- Childhood programming. It has been proven that most of your thinking patterns are developed by your upbringing as a child. This programming has caused you to respond to be culturally appropriate, so that you don’t offend or say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Financial conversations are not easy in the best of cases, but can be made even more difficult if you add on programming like this:
- “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
- “We don’t discuss money.”
- “It’s rude to discuss a person’s income.”
This thinking builds an unconscious barrier in the mind that is hard to cross. In turn, financial discussions are avoided.
- Finding excuses and justification. This is where you start creating stories based on assumptions like, “Oh, these people have tons of money because there is marble on the walls and floors.” Just because people spend money on the “show” of the business doesn’t mean they value the problem you are helping them solve or willing to spend money to fix it. We sometimes will make excuses and justify why we shouldn’t discuss money. When you think it is wrong to discuss whether someone is able or willing to spend the money, because “we don’t want them to feel bad, or put pressure on them,” whatever you say after the word “because” is the excuse and justification.
Make the shift to the right mindset for the prospect.
Start with easy a request like “Can we explore how you have paid for things like this in the past?” This is a simple request; I have NEVER had someone say no to this question.
It will be easy to bridge from the past to today; “Do you think there is there money like that allocated for this project/service/problem?” if the answer is yes then the question is; “how much?”, if the answer is “NO” then the next question is; “ how do we justify getting money set aside for this?
As a sales professional, it’s important to discuss how willing and able a client is to spend the amount of money to get the help they need. When would you rather know they can’t afford your services or won’t use their money to solve an issue, before or after your hours of travel, proposals and presentations?
Exactly. It’s time to get comfortable discussing money with candor, from the get-go.