Every move you make.That’s what it takes to land your next prospect. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of learning, from a renowned sales guru, the art of the close. And, it seems to be as simple as reading your prospect and mirroring their behavior.
Here’s how it goes: your prospect sizes you up in 49 seconds, give or take; and uses the remaining time he spends with you to confirm his initial opinion of you. If he cannot confirm his initial perception, but finds himself interested in doing business with you anyway, with your character inconsistencies, he’ll make an exception. But the human mind seems unable to reform opinions.
As a woman, I’ve always been sensitive to possible “first impressions.” Will the prospect relate to me? How do I convince my meanest and most vulgar client that I’m O.K. with mean and vulgar? How much jewelry is too much? Is a European Luxury Sedan too much car? Well, as it turns out, all of this is important. It is all part of the package we present. But our package is first delivered with our initial “eye contact” with our prospect.
Here you have it, once and for all — no excuses. Eye contact is the first contact that you have with a client. Secondly, he’ll hear your voice. Lastly, he’ll shake you hand. Eye, Sound and Touch. Make it count, because it counts most.
Your eyes must meet your prospect. Try it out on your own. Have your friend or co-worker stage an introduction between you and anyone. Have you maintained complete contact? Did you find that you looked down to shake hands? Can you continue eye contact? Other than breaks in contact directed by your prospect, don’t give it up. But don’t stare them down. Eye contact relays honesty and openness. First and foremost, your prospect will insist on integrity. Prove it with your eyes.
Next, comes the voice. As you approach your prospect, mirror his volume and tone. If he’s loud and brash, be just as loud and brash. If he’s dour, be dour. Even if you speak first, and mistakenly diverge from your prospect’s style, adjust your voice immediately. Pretty basic stuff, huh? Practice this. Again, stage an introduction session with some of your co-workers. Approach your co-worker, who will play the prospect, with any volume or intonation you choose. Introduce yourself, “Hi, Jim nice to finally meet you.” Have your co-worker respond with any style he chooses. “Great to meet you,” he may mumble. Now, change your style to conform with his. This is a great exercise for new producers. They’ve heard of these basic rules, but have they practiced them?
The touch comes last. Here, as in the voice, you must mirror your prospect. There is no right or wrong, but only what your prospect will perceive. If your prospect gives you a bear hug, then hug your heart out. If he extends his hand and seems to “need his space,” then give it to him. It is important to match a firm handshake with a firm response and a weak handshake with a weak response. Touch is the most intimate thing we do in a sales experience, and it is an important step in our prospect’s ability to judge our ability to relate, communicate and care.
The rest is easy? No, and we’ll leave the dozens of other “behavioral” issues for a later article. But, I’d like you to know the following: it doesn’t matter how you feel or how you act, but rather how you are perceived. It doesn’t matter what you think of your prospect, but rather what you can get him to think of you. Conversely, it would be to your advantage to not make judgments by what you initially perceive, nor care how your prospect acts.
As you gain an understanding of human behavior, you will learn that people are rarely comfortable with everything about themselves. In fact, it is often true that what you see is not at all what you get. You will be effective at tailoring your responses if you understand that many of us have layered armor over our insecurities. What we project to the world is often a defense. Our self-image is set when we’re very young and unable to process rational thought, but the image is immutable. A fat boy might grow to be obsessive about health and fitness. A poor boy might grow to “throw his money around.” A beautiful woman might actually have been an ugly girl, or so she thought. What you see is not what you get.
Finally, and this information will direct the form of the sales style you employ with your prospect. Your prospect will make a decision based on a decision making style. The styles may vary and many sales strategists will call them by a different name. Often, one person may embody various styles or they may alternate styles. You must identify what style they’ll use to make “your” decision. Look for expressions like: “I really feel…” They will need to emotionally relate to you and your suggestions. How about, “I can see…” Give them a picture to grab onto. “It sounds good to me,” might require a…a…a…Song? Although probing is good, feeling is better.