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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA

Sales Success

While people can change and grow in skills, they tend to be uncomfortable with both. So, what do you do about helping people to work through the discomfort that comes with change for personal growth and skills development? Here are four steps that can help you, whether you are introducing a new training program, application software, company policy or compensation plan.

After 18 years of helping Chief Execs, Sales Managers and Sales People capitalize on their strengths and overcome weaknesses, here are my top five ways to convert your good salespeople to great salespeople!

We talked about Negative Reverse Selling and using strip-lining techniques to get neutral prospects talking about issues with their business and any related pain caused by those issues. Negative Reverse Selling is saying and doing the opposite of what the prospect expects salespeople to do. Strip-lining is giving the prospect more line to swim with, and allows the prospect to keep talking, making it one of the more effective tools in the NRS toolbox. It’s much easier to gather information once you set the prospect into motion, and Negative Reverse Selling is a great way to get the pendulum moving.

Let’s take a look at a scenario where strip-lining can be very effective in getting a negative prospect moving in the right direction. The prospect says to the salesperson...

Our most recent blogs have been covering the Dummy Curve. Using the Dummy Curve you would be acting like you are a little "less okay" than the prospect (inside you feel great though). It's disarming and it helps with bonding and rapport to the point where your prospect feels empowered talking to you. When using Dummy Curve techniques the prospect lets down their defense wall. Then it gets very easy to find out if they have pain - a deep seated emotional need that compels them to buy your product or service.

The Dummy Curve works great, however, it’s not just the words you say, but your.,.. 

 

In the past few blogs, we’ve been talking about a very effective sales technique called Reversing. When using reversing the salesperson answer a prospect's question with a question. When done properly it is very disarming and will result in the salesperson gathering more information. When done properly the prospect will feel like the salesperson really cares. The ultimate goal of reversing is to have the prospect quickly feel at ease and reveal their personal pain or reveal they the prospect doesn't have any pain. Remember, no pain equals...

In our most recent blogs, I’ve been talking a lot about using the Sandler Pain Funnel to increase your sales. What I haven’t said yet, is, you should also adapt the Pain Funnel to your own style of selling. The questions used in the funnel are great and will easily help you uncover a prospects pain and quickly lead you down the path to closing a deal. However, if you combine the funnel with the other techniques you learn in the Sandler System, and adapt them all to your personality, your results will likely explode.

Don’t wait to start using the pain funnel. You should implement what you are learning here in your every day sales calls, and be careful to keep your...

Fishing is very popular down in the Florida Keys, and one of the favorite catches for fishermen and tourists, is called the bonefish. Most people fish it for sport rather than food, and there is an art to catching one. If somebody from New England goes down to the Florida Keys to fish for bonefish, that person would probably do what I was at first tempted to do: bait the hook with shrimp, cast out, and wait for a nibble on the line. As soon as that nibble comes, we New Englanders start to reel the fish in, like we do with Cod and Haddock in our cold waters. However, more often than not, the hook...

In our last blog, we put the “Dummy Curve” in to action, showing how being a “dummy” can help you in the sales process. We showed an example, using a young, inexperienced salesperson named Carlos, who had great results when he didn’t know much about what he was selling, terrible results after getting trained on the products, and then good results when he went back to his beginner, or “dummy” stage.

Take a look at what happened to Carlos...

In our most recent blog, we introduced strip-lining as one of our favorite sales techniques under the Negative Reverse Selling umbrella. Remember, Negative Reverse Selling is doing the exact opposite of what your prospect is expecting from a sales person, thus throwing them off guard. Continuing down that negative selling path, let’s take another look at setting a neutral prospect into motion by strip-lining or throwing him or her some more line to swim about before you reel them in.

In the past few blogs we’ve been talking about the highly effective Dummy Curve technique, where playing the dummy pays off big time when it comes to sales. By playing the dummy and disarming your prospect’s concern, you can get them to reveal pain and establish trust with you. In this blog, we will finish up this series on the Dummy Curve with some math.

In our last blog, we talked about how you can have “Beginners Luck” forever, by being a dummy. Well, a clever dummy, much like our favorite detective, Lt. Columbo. If you ever watched the hit TV series, Columbo, you know he was a master at disarming his suspects by looking and acting like he was a dummy. And Columbo always got his killer. You can do the same thing in sales by disarming your prospects when you play the dummy salesperson.

Have you ever experienced beginners luck, where everything seems to go your way the first time you try something new, or do something you haven’t done in a long time? Every shot goes in the hoop, every puck in the net, every pool shot in the side pocket. Wouldn’t it be nice to have beginners luck all the time? The phrase "beginners luck" describes the phenomenon when people who are new to something, and inexplicably outperform so-called “experts.” The question is, why does it happen?

In our past few blogs, we've been talking about the great sales technique called Reversing. Reversing is an approach we use, where we answer questions with questions, designed to disarm the prospect and create trust. If trust is established, you have a much greater chance of uncovering the prospect's pain and gaining a sale. This blog is the last in our series on Reversing, and shows you how to open doors you assumed were already closed.

In our past few blogs we have been digging into the sales technique we call Reversing. Reversing is an effective approach where we answer prospect questions with questions, a technique that typically disarms the prospect and puts them at ease with us. It’s a great way to gain trust and guide the prospect down the path to uncovering his or her pain. Since it is such an effective sales tool, we continue our discussion on using the Reversing process to close more deals.

Last week we shared with you how Reversing is a questioning strategy designed to encourage prospects to reveal and even relive their pain. Reversing may also help you disqualify prospects who don’t have any pain at the current time, so you don’t waste any more time pursuing a prospect that doesn’t need your services. Reversing is quite simply, answering questions with more questions. On average, it takes 3 reverse questions to get a prospect to talk about their pain.

It’s really just a case of knowing what you are doing. If you practice your delivery, you can deliver an effective reverse without upsetting your prospect at all. Reversing is a great way to get a prospect to trust you and reveal their pain. Why? Because reversing goes against the norm. People expect sales professionals to sell, not ask how they feel about things impacting their work and life.

The Sandler Submarine is a powerful sales tool, but like any other vehicle, it needs fuel to keep it going. The Sandler system uses many techniques to help uncover a prospect’s pain, revving up the sales engine and eventually closing more deals. One of these techniques is very simple but also very powerful, and we call it Reversing.

When Dorothy landed in Oz, she wanted to go home and was told by the Munchkins to see the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. “But how do I find the Wizard”, she asked. “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”. “And the best way to start, is at the beginning”. And that holds true for the Sandler System as well. Start at the beginning.

We've been talking about pain a lot in our recent blogs, which leads us naturally to, talking about Sandler's Pain Funnel.  But, I'd like to tell you a quick story first:

It’s 5:30 in the afternoon on a beautiful summer day. Mom hears little five-year-old Jimmy charging up the back porch. He tears open the screen door and roars into the house. He jumps into the kitchen where Mom is busily cooking dinner. Before she can even ask Jimmy if he had fun playing outside, he says, “Hey Mommy, can I have an ice cream cone?”
His mom replies, “You may have ice cream after dinner.” The next afternoon, Mom hears Jimmy running up the steps. He bursts into the kitchen again and asks the same question: “Can I have an ice cream cone?” His mom says, “Jimmy, after dinner, you can have one.”

 

 

Transactional Analysis (TA) was developed back in the 1950s by Dr. Eric Berne. Berne developed this break- through approach to human psychology while working with a patient who was an attorney. The two were discussing something the attorney had done, but regretted doing. Berne asked, “Well, why did you do it?” The attorney explained that, although part of him hadn’t wanted to do what he’d done, “…the child inside me compelled me to do it anyways".

In our most recent blog, we discussed using the psychological model DISC, to identify and deal with certain personality types when selling to new prospects. In this blog, we will share a little bit more about how to interact with each personality type, Dominants, Influencers, Steady Relators, and Compliants, which will help you create better bonding and rapport with your prospects.

Uncovering a prospect’s pain is essential to a successful sales process. I’ve been training that fact for years. Why? Because people buy emotionally, so if you can unleash your prospect's emotion, you have a much better chance for success. But how do you do that? How do you uncover a prospect's pain or deep seated emotions without being obvious about it?

If you have been keeping up with our recent blogs, then you learned a bit about our seven part sales system, or as we call it, The Sandler Submarine. But is knowing a good sales system good enough? Could be, but really it comes down to the implementation of that system, if you want to see tangible results. To be successful, you need to stay ahead of your prospect when it comes to knowledge about effective negotiating and selling techniques. Otherwise, you may fall in to the traps of the traditional selling model, and then prospects got you where they want you. They know all your tricks and have a few of their own to take control of the process.

Telling stories is a great teaching tool to use in many fields, especially sales. At one of our recent workshops on pain, a participant from a technology company shared a story about an experience he had at a big-box TV store. This person went in to the store to learn more about flat screen TVs, with no intention of buying. He just wanted more information so he could make an educated decision when it came time to buy a TV, and get the best deal online, not at a store.

In our last blog, “We All Live in the Sandler Submarine”, I talked about the seven steps of the Sandler system and how working through these steps will improve your sales process. Step 3, Pain, Step 4, Budget, and Step 5, Decision, are the qualifying steps in the Sandler system. If your prospect reveals 3 to 5 issues to you that are clearly various levels of pain, they have money budgeted to fix the problems, and they have the authority to make the decision to buy your product or services, then congratulations! You have a qualified prospect.

Want to make more money and have more fun in your sales position? Easy, just master the art of identifying your prospect’s pain. To do this, you need to have a methodology or a sales system. That’s where the proven Sandler Sales System comes in to play for you. Not easy, but very manageable.

So you’ve been establishing and building rapport with your prospects and now its time move deeper into the sales process and uncover their pain. But how do you do it smoothly without alarming your prospect?


One way to get a good conversation rolling after you’ve built rapport, bonded, and had a meaningful discussion about goals and problems is to ask prospects directly, “What is the impact of this situation on your company?”

 

As you learn the Sandler Sales System, you’ll acquire a number of powerful techniques to establish an authentic conversation about the prospect’s pain along with tools to sustain that conversation. When you assimilate these techniques into your work, you will close more sales. More on that later, but for now, let’s master and use those techniques and create a crystal-clear picture of what pain is (and isn’t) in the professional sales process. This is important because, unfortunately, most salespeople have no practical understanding of what a prospect’s pain is. Furthermore, many salespeople have no idea why pain is the most important element to having successful sales calls and sales cycles, whether you are in a one-call close or a 12-month selling cycle.

Most salespeople rely on their product or service to sell their prospect, using features and benefits to persuade them into buying. This typically means the person is giving away free consulting and lots of time and effort in hopes of getting that elusive “YES”, when in fact, they mostly get , “Let me think it over” or “We’ll get back to you”, or other non-committal responses and a sale likely never happens.

Think about what’s happening here. Following this traditional approach, the salesperson spends way too much time on the opportunity - and does not get the results he or she desires. This definitely can lead to frustration and reduced motivation.

One of the chief elements to cloing business using the Sandler System is to uncover your prospect’s pain and make them relive it. Most people buy emotionally, so getting your customer to emotionally relive his or her pain is a sure-fire way to get them to buy your product or service to relieve their pain. A couple of great tools to use in identifying your prospects pain is COP, or Costing Out the Problem, and The Pain-O-Meter.

Qualifying Prospects for Higher Success Rates


Identifying and measuring a prospect’s pain early in the sales process is one of the most effective ways to increase sales. So how do we uncover a potential client’s pain without being obvious about what we are doing? You already know and understand why Bonding and Rapport is the first step in the Sandler Sales Process, so now you can take the next step to get a clearer understanding of the challenges and pains your prospects face on a daily basis.

Establish and Maintain Bonding and Rapport
By Greg Nanigian in Sales Process

Before a prospect will share pain, you have to establish some level of bonding and rapport with that person. Why? Most people won’t share sensitive information with you unless they like and trust you first.  The Bonding & Rapport Step is the first of the Sandler Sales system described in this book. There are seven steps to this process, but none of them will work if you don’t take care of business here in the Bonding & Rapport Step. In fact, you should maintain bonding and rapport through the sales process and beyond. So let’s focus on it first.

An important, but often overlooked, principle in sales is "follow through."

After you’ve led your prospects through a discussion, to a point where they feel comfortable enough with you to share their pain, you need to keep that pain alive so that you can implement your solution. Prospects get emotionally involved when they reveal their pain and, as a result, are compelled to find a solution.

To start a productive discussion about pain — after you’ve built rapport, bonded, and had a meaningful conversation about goals and problems — ask: “What is the impact of this situation on your company?”

Pain is the gap between where you are and where you want to be. When that gap gets big enough, it can emotionally compel people to take action and make a purchase.

Many salespeople believe that presenting features and benefits is an effective way to sell. It’s completely ineffective.

A testimonial by the president of a leading New England advertising agency.

To uncover pain in the sales process, you must first establish bonding and rapport. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a communications and behavior model developed in the 1960's, and it has grown in popularity and impact since.

Our weekly live, interactive Teleclass conference calls deliver provide effective sales training in digestible quantities and formats. Listen to Greg Nanigian help a client challenged with moving a prospect forward one week and then her results a week later.

No sales system will work if you don’t establish some level of bonding and rapport so that the individual will feel safe enough to share sensitive information -- and their pain -- with you.

An in-depth understanding of the Principle of Pain— “the gap between where you are now and where you want to be”— can not only help you to sell better but become more effective at buying.

Traditionally, salespeople rely on their product’s or service’s features and benefits to do most of the selling. Even if the salesperson offers lots of free consulting and invests lots of time, effort, and energy in the relationship, they usually get a noncommittal response like, “We’ll think it over” or “We’ll let you know”?

Sales professionals may be used to thinking about “pain” as a physical sensation. However, sales pros must expand their understanding of the term to align with that of Sandler Training’s founder, David Sandler.

Too many times, during my nearly 17 years of sales and sales management training, I've seen compensation plans that actually pay a salesperson NOT to sell! What the employer needs is the right blend of base, draw and commission for the job. One that will attract the right person, but not pay him or her so much that you as the owner come out the loser.

When you’re counting close friendships, loving relationships, acts of kindness, or the gold bars securely stashed away in your secret vault, the answer is, “Yes!” It’s better to have more…rather than fewer of them. Is the same true when it comes to the tools for building and growing your business?

Whether you are a small business owner or sales manager, you should take advantage of sales coaching. Once a salesperson understands that sales coaching can help them to make more money and have more fun, it's inevitable that they'll want to introduce their sales manager or sales trainer to the concept, too.

You probably have had experiences with people—friends or family, perhaps—who are perpetually “looking into” or “thinking about” something … but who rarely (or never) take action on those things. You can’t afford to waste time with prospects who demonstrate that same tendency, despite their willingness—even eagerness—to meet with you!

Selling is what takes place when you lead the prospect through a step-by-step process, each step of which may lead to the prospect’s disqualification and removal from the process. If you do not disqualify the prospect opportunity, the sale moves forward and eventually culminates in the prospect making a buying decision. 

Identify the most relevant pain indicators your prospects are likely to experience. Then use those pain indicators as the foundation of a respectful peer-to-peer conversation about whether it makes sense to invest the necessary time and energy in a deeper discussion about the possibility of working together. If it doesn’t make sense… move on!

Interpreting a statement as a question, and then attempting to answer it, often puts you in a defensive posture. You may find yourself attempting to justify, defend, or explain a position that may not even be an issue for the prospect. Don’t waste time, effort, and good will trying to “turn around” an objection that may not be an objection at all.

Prospects will sometimes make statements that, on the surface, sound positive, but on closer inspection, reveal no actual commitment. They contain indecisive, play-it-safe words or phrases that allow prospects (and customers alike) to avoid making commitments.

Has this ever happened to you? A seemingly “hot prospect” asks you a question that seems to signal interest in working with you. So you answer the question – at length. Your contact nods and smiles. Then, for some mysterious reason, your “hot prospect” disengages. What happened? What did you do wrong?

For most prospects, facing challenges (solving their problems or achieving their goals) is only a means to an end—realizing an outcome. It’s the desire for that positive outcome that provides the incentive necessary to face the challenge in the first place. 

Have you ever had a qualified prospect pick your brain for information – and then turn around and buy from the competition? Most salespeople have had this frustrating experience. Instead of showering the prospect with product information, we should ask questions that will clarify whether there’s an emotional gap between where the prospect is and where the prospect wants to be, or the prospects pain. Then we should figure out whether we can fill that gap.

Investing time to learn about your prospect before “pitching” your product helps build rapport and trust. When you understand your prospects, it’s easier to understand their points of view. Similarly, prospects must have a sense of your sincere interest before they can become comfortable with you—and seek your advice.

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve had a series of great discussions with a prospect, taken lots of great notes, and you’ve developed the proverbial “killer presentation.” You’ve started to deliver that presentation, and you’ve gotten all kinds of positive signals from the prospect: encouraging body language, words of approval, that kind of thing.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in discussion with a prospect about the possibility of working together. The meeting is going well. You’re working your way all through the questions you know you’re supposed to ask at this stage. One of the questions you ask strikes a nerve with the person to whom you’re talking. Suddenly the floodgates open. 

Have you ever made a prospecting phone call whose central message was focused on what the salesperson wants: the meeting? These kinds of prospecting calls are typically known as cold calls, and that’s a fitting name for them. In the vast majority of cases, they do in fact leave the prospect cold.

Have you ever tried one of those tricky “closing techniques” that are supposed to transform hesitant prospects into instant customers? The problem with all of these techniques is that prospects can see them coming a mile away, and they usually feel like they’re under attack – which they are. 

The traditional salesperson’s instinct is to go after a sale at any cost. Keep trying, keep pushing, and you may get lucky. Or, you may waste your time on an unqualified, disinterested prospect; time you could be spending with real prospects. Sandler trained salespeople aren’t afraid to close the file on a sale that isn’t working.

Have you ever had a series of good meetings with a prospect … gathered all kinds of information … and given what you thought was a great presentation … only to receive a response like, “Let me think about it”? Or, “I have to share all of this with my boss”? Or, “We’ll get back to you”? And then you never heard another word? You landed in sales limbo!

Have you ever interviewed for a position that never turned into a job offer? The majority of us have experienced this at least once in our career. At the interview or interviews, we did everything right. So why weren't we hired?

Sandler trained salespeople don’t chase prospects, don’t behave desperately by agreeing to price concessions in an attempt to get a signature, and don’t allow themselves to be used for unpaid consulting. 

Setting goals for yourself is not all that complicated. There are no secrets. You’ll probably never see a half hour on one of the cable channels dedicated to “The Secrets of Goal Setting.” Nor will you find 25 CDs for three easy payments of $49.95 plus tax, talking about the wonders of this guaranteed sales closing technique called “Set Goals, Close ’Em & Reap Millions!”

Many sales managers are promoted from the ranks—the salesperson who, while not perhaps the top earner, was always consistently up there. In addition, the newly promoted manager is usually pretty good at the weekly paperwork. Understand, there is nothing wrong with these qualities. 

We adore them as fans. We admire their focus and talent. We wish we had their skill. They are at the top of their game. And their success has come from hard work, dedication, focus… And coaching. At some point in our lives, a trusted coach can be the difference between reaching goals and simply working hard.

When you conduct an interview, you expect to ask questions and listen to answers. That’s precisely what you should be doing in your sales calls. Sandler questioning techniques are the key to uncovering the prospect’s pain, getting a budget commitment, and establishing the decision making process. You’ve got to be willing to “interview” your prospect, and let him/her do most of the talking. 

Have you ever given a presentation to a prospect who seemed to be showing you nothing but “green lights” … until you came to the final page of your proposal? As a general rule, that’s the page with the price. And for some strange reason, when the prospect saw your price on that final page, all those green lights turned red. 

Selling can be frustrating and discouraging. But in fact, it doesn’t have to be. With education, practice, and persistence, it becomes a wealth of income opportunity.

We never forget the first time we heard the pitch. “Being in sales is incredible. You can literally make as much money as you want. You control your earning potential.” And they’re right. Sales and business owners have limitless earning potential. For sales, our book of business shows in our paycheck and we sell like we own the business.

When used at the wrong time, your product knowledge and expertise can be intimidating to your prospects. If you use buzzwords, technical terms, or industry jargon early in the selling process, before determining if your prospects are familiar with those terms, you run the risk of making your prospects uncomfortable. At that point, they have two choices.

A good rule for selling, and for life! When a prospect makes you feel not OK, it probably means you are following his or her system instead of the Sandler Selling System. Although, as a Sandler trained salesperson you can make yourself appear not-OK to help the prospect become OK, it is not OK to allow the prospect to challenge your self-esteem, or your “I.”

Have you ever seen a prospect’s eyes glaze over? Most professional salespeople have had this experience. Maybe you have, too. Any time a sales discussion starts out strong, and then dies the moment you move out of the “meet and greet” phase, there’s a very good chance you have lost the sale to your own preconceived notions.