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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Boston, Massachusetts

Sandler Training

In our most recent series of blogs, we’ve been reviewing Negative Reverse Selling and how it is very effective in creating great bonding and rapport with sales prospects. Negative Reverse Selling is a way of saying and doing the opposite of what the prospect expects from a salesperson, disarming them and creating trust with them. We’ve also spent the past couple blogs reviewing the very effective NRS sales tool called Strip-lining, where, using a fishing metaphor. you cast your line to the prospect but instead of reeling them right in, you let some more line out and give the prospect a chance to swim a bit, before hooking them and pulling them in.

In our most recent blogs, we’ve been reviewing Negative Reverse Selling and how it is very effective in creating great bonding and rapport with sales prospects. Negative Reverse Selling is a way of saying and doing the opposite of what the prospect expects from a salesperson, disarming them and creating trust with them. One of its more compelling techniques is called strip-lining, a method of using reverse questions to get the prospect talking, and you keep "throwing more line and let them swim". However, you need to do this step right or it could backfire on you. When you do it correctly, prospects feel like they are in control of the conversation, and you have a better chance of making a sale. Practice this step frequently in low risk situations before using it on your biggest and best prospects.

In our most recent blog, 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.

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.

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 will return to us empty, and our frustration will build as we keep trying the same ineffective way of fishing for bonefish.

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.

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 or down. 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.

 

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.

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.

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 no sale. So, you can save a lot of time by using reversing.

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.

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 prospect's 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 questions in the order shown here in the funnel.

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."

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?”

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.

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.

If you examine the day-to-day conversations that take place in the business arena (or almost any setting), you’ll discover examples of miscommunication and non-communication occurring in varying degrees. Conversations will contain distortions, deletions, and generalizations. They are part of the fabric of interpersonal communication. And, it’s the distortions, deletions, and generalizations that get in the way of closing more sales…and closing them more quickly.

It’s been over thirty years since David Sandler introduced the concept of “pain” as the core element of a selling methodology—the Sandler Selling System®. Pain represented the prospect’s collective reasons to buy a product or service. Sandler chose the term not only for its connotation physical discomfort, emotional distress, or something troublesome—but also for its relationship to one’s motivation to take action. Psychologists note that people take action to either seek pleasure or avoid pain. Of the two, they suggest that avoiding pain is the bigger motivator.

Up-front contracts are a powerful tool in the Sandler Selling System. By agreeing, up-front, with a prospect on what will take place during a sales interaction, including an agenda, time limit, and next steps, you are in control of the sale. But beware—a wishy-washy contract is as good as no contract at all.

Scheduling appointments with prospects is hard work. You not only have to arm-wrestle with gatekeepers, but then you have to contend with voice-mail. But eventually, whether by sheer persistence or a little luck, you get through to the intended prospects and you schedule appointments. All of those efforts, however, are wasted if you’re not properly prepared for those appointments.

Maybe you thought you were the only one with a sales person that everyone loves, but is a terrible closer. The reality is that most sales teams have one or more such non-closers. Compounding the problem of these people not being very profitable is the fact that they are likeable, as many of them tend to have good people skills.

By using the reversing technique of answering a prospect’s question with another question, you encourage the prospect to tell you more. And, getting the prospect to tell more is the key to getting beneath surface pain to real pain, the pain that will lead to a sale. Let the prospect do the talking, and use reverses to keep information coming.

You have an inventory to take, a phone call to make, and a report to write. But instead of diving in and getting the tasks completed, you put them off. “I’ll get to them soon,” you tell yourself. But your definition of “soon” and Webster’s definition have little in common.

Not all “fine-tuning” activities are driven by procrastination. Some people have a need for perfection. They’re not ready to take action until everything is perfect…every contingency has been identified…every twist and turn predicted and appropriate actions planned. They put off implementation until everything is perfect. But it never is. So, the planning continues and the “doing” never begins.

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!”

Nobody cares about your products or services... and neither should you. Sure, your company’s advertising focuses on your products and services—their unique advantages and benefits. And, your marketing department has gone to great lengths and expense to produce extensive marketing brochures and spec sheets that further elaborate on the unique aspects of your products and services. Nobody cares.

How much prospects are willing to pay for your product or service is a not just a function of how much they need it, but also how much value they believe they are receiving. The more value they receive, the more they are willing to pay. So, the question is not how much to charge for your product or service, but rather, how to add value. 

Have you ever reached the end of the line with a prospect—and had no idea what to do to move forward? Your strategy was sound. Your techniques were flawless. But your prospect still continually stalled the process. In those situations, when you know that you have something of value to offer based on the information you’ve gleaned from your prospect, stop being a salesperson and become a consultant.