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10 Common Mistakes Old School Persuaders Make that Top Sales Professionals Don’t; Part 1 of 3
Have you ever had someone try to persuade you with those old, outdated, offensive tactics? You know the ones I am talking about. Before you are even close to purchasing a product I am sure that you have been asked: “Do you want it in green or black?” I am sure you have also heard: “If I could show you how to become financially independent, you’d be interested wouldn’t you?” This backs you into a corner and you don’t even want to answer the question. You wonder, does this person really think I’m that dumb? You don’t buy from these people. You don’t even like these people. You never go back to their store. Do these tactics still work? Sure they do. It is the law of averages. Eventually you can find someone who will bend to any persuasive technique. Great persuaders are not smarter; they just have the right tools.
You have heard the adage, “If you are a hammer, everyone is a nail.” You can’t treat everyone exactly the same. You have to customize the presentation to every customer. I want to give you a new set of tools because one tool will not fit all your prospects. You can’t use the old school tactics and force every prospect into the same mold. The more tools you have, the more successful you will become. Research shows that most persuaders use three to four persuasive techniques. High producers still only use seven to eight persuasive techniques. Did you know there are over 100 techniques? If you look at persuasion like it’s a piano, most are playing chopsticks when they could be playing Mozart. Why haven’t many persuaders caught up with the times? Why are so many still using the old tools that would best be put to rest? Are you one of them?
First, you must understand persuasion and influence have changed in the past twenty years. Your consumer, prospect, and customer have changed. They are bombarded with over five thousand persuasive messages a day. Your prospect is more educated and more skeptical than ever before. Think about it. When you are approached by a sales rep or called by a telemarketer you automatically put up a huge wall. You are already resisting before anything has been communicated. If you try those old style tactics, you will lose prospects, which results in lost sales. What good is a sales tool that works only part of the time? Imagine if the brakes on your car only worked part of the time.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever had a prospect that you were working with and you knew they needed your product or service, they wanted your product or service, they could afford it, but they still didn’t buy from you? What happened? It was a perfect fit for both parties. We live in a fast-paced world. We don’t even have time to think. So your prospect comes in and everything is perfect but they don’t buy and they say, “I need to think about it.” We don’t have time but the knee-jerk reaction is to think about it. Do you want to know why your prospects aren’t buying from you?
The Persuasion Pitfall
Understanding your audience is key. You must also know what laws of persuasion you are going to use on them. There are times and situations where certain persuasive laws or techniques are not appropriate. You can’t treat every person or every audience the same way. If you take persuasion too far, you will run into what I call the “persuasion pitfall.” People are persuaded and influenced until they feel cheated, misled, or taken advantage of, and then they never tell you about their feelings, and they never do business with you again. In sales and marketing, we have a tendency push the envelope a little too hard when trying to persuade others. This could be in a personal one-on-one encounter with a friend or shopping at a furniture store. Persuaders who do not possess the ability to read others or who do not have the skills necessary to persuade typically fall victim to the persuasion pitfall. They take persuasion a little too far, using extreme pressure or try to sell you a product you don’t need or want. When you use persuasion, influence, or power the wrong way, people will lose all trust in you and never want to be persuaded by you again.
“Over-persuading,” is always going to set off silent alarms in the mind of your prospect. These alarms will send feelings of uneasiness, negativity towards you personally, your store, or your product. The challenge with this pitfall is that 99 percent of the people in the world will say nothing to you about feeling over-persuaded of offended, they simply will never go into your store again; they will never want to associate with you or your product. Or, if you are a friend or family member, they will never trust or listen to your point of view again. This pitfall is a silent killer because most persuaders don’t even realize the mistake was ever committed. The duped person will never come back to the store and will probably tell others not to go back, too. You have probably had this happen to you many times, at a car dealership, in retail stores, or over the phone. You have to have a sixth sense in persuasion and know how hard you can push. We hate to feel manipulated or pressured. We have all been burned or taken advantage of and when we see signs of such behavior we run.
Many uneducated persuaders can be offensive, condescending, obnoxious, and insulting. Some people will need to have space, some will have to talk to a spouse, and still others will have to come back later before making a decision. You have to sense and know by knowledge, experience, and nonverbal cues how many tools of persuasion you can use without running up against this pitfall. You have to sense their limits.
1. My clients/customers trust me
Wrong. We have done studies at the persuasion institute and found most people do not trust you. The persuader thinks and feels that he or she has developed trust, but when we talk to the customer/prospect, there is no trust. Here’s the deal: Forty years ago, people were more trusting. The attitude was, “I trust you. Give me a reason not to.” Now it’s, “I don’t trust you. Give me a reason to trust you.” So now you’re starting well below zero. On average, depending on your occupation, over 70 percent of the time you did not develop trust with your customer/prospect. Ouch. Even if they like you, if they don’t trust you there will be no deal. The ability to gain and keep trust is a vital factor in influencing others. Research has shown, time and time again, that trust is always a contributing factor in the ability to influence others. When a person trusts you, trust alone can cause them to accept your message. On the flip side, if people don’t trust you, all the evidence, reasoning, facts, or figures in the world won’t get them to budge.
Trust can be an ambiguous concept, but certain things are quite clear: You can’t get others to trust you unless you trust yourself first. Your message will not be convincing to others unless it’s convincing to you. Whenever someone tries to influence us, we ask ourselves, “Can I trust this person? Do I believe him? Are they really concerned about me?” We are less likely to be influenced if we sense that the person is driven solely by self-interest. Never assume that people trust you. Always show the world you are someone to be trusted, no matter what the circumstances are.
2. I need more closing skills
Sure it is nice to have a few closing skills in your persuasion tool box, but shouldn’t you spend more time opening up your prospect before you even think about closing? In fact, great persuaders don’t even have to use closing techniques. The consumer is ready to purchase before the end of the conversation. The only time you really need a closing skill is when you have blown it and you have not followed the proper persuasion process. You need to be able to connect, be sincere and empathic, and show you have their best interest in mind. You should spend more time on connecting, building rapport, finding needs and wants, positioning your product, and answering questions.
Persuading a customer/prospect occurs throughout the whole process, not just at the end of the presentation. Studies show it is much more important how you open a sale rather than close it. Research shows that hard closes not only offend but have also lost their effectiveness. Hard closes work less than five percent of the time and over half of those prospects had buyer’s remorse and returned the product.
It is said that the first and most lasting impression is made in about the first four minutes. Be sure you demonstrate confidence in those first four minutes, because the cement dries fast! Nothing can replace a bad first impression, even if you try to make it up later. Fixing a first impression is like fixing a wrecked car. Even after exhaustive time, effort, and expense, you still know it was wrecked, and you’re more apt to detect anything that might be wrong with it.
We have all had the experience of meeting someone who, after just a few seconds of being in their presence, we have felt an instant connection or bond to. This is the Law of Connectivity. Conversely, we have probably all met someone who we instantly did not like and did not want to be around. This process is caused by a lack of connectivity and usually takes only a few seconds to become apparent. The Law of Connectivity states that the more we feel connected to, part of, liked by, or attracted to someone, the more persuasive they become. When you create an instant bond or connection, people feel comfortable around you; they will feel like they have known you for a long time and that they can easily relate to you. When we feel connected to someone, we feel comfortable and a sense of trust evolves.
When someone feels love or unconditional acceptance, they will be open to your influence. To be this open, they have to know that you empathize with their situation.
Empathy has both Latin and Greek roots. The two parts of the word mean “to see through” and “the eye of the other.” Seeing through the eye of another creates long-term influence. When people know that you can see what they see, feel what they feel, hurt the way they hurt, they will be willing to be influenced by you. The whole world is full of people trying to make us do things for their reasons. All we need to do is pause and understand with whom we are dealing, what they are thinking, and why they are thinking those things. Once we understand these principles, we have empathy and the door of influence swings wide open. Empathy and caring are part of having humility. When you are humble, you demonstrate to others that you are not driven by ego, or pride, and you’re not just out to get the best for yourself.
3. Objections are good
There is a big difference between a genuine question of concern and an “I’m done with you” objection. Is it a sign of interest or resistance? That is the key question. When they present every objection in the book, this should be a red flag to you. You are probably going down the wrong road, not reading the person. What they are really saying is, “Go away. I have heard enough. I don’t see where or how this can help me.” Did you really uncover their wants and needs, or are you vomiting a list of features and benefits? Many persuaders vomit information. Here is the issue: your prospect will buy for their reasons and for only their reasons, they don’t care about why you like the product or how much you know about the product. You need to find out the one or two reasons they want to buy and tell them how your product or service will benefit them. When you list features and benefits, two things happen. It can suck the energy out of the persuasion process and it can actually give them reasons not to buy that they wouldn’t have even imagined. Find the one or two they are really going to care about and get them to purchase – then you can fill in the blanks with the other features and benefits. Here is the key: before they buy or have made the decision to purchase, they are looking for reasons not to buy. After the decision to buy, they are then looking for reasons why they made a good purchase.
Great persuaders will always have fewer objections to handle than old style persuaders. If you really understand your prospect, you “pre-solve” before the objection has even occurred. “Pre-solving” objections can be effectively accomplished by using a tactic titled inoculation. Do you inoculate your prospects?
The term “inoculation” comes from the medical field: injecting a weak dose of a virus into a patient inoculates or prevents the patient from actually getting the disease. The body’s immune system fights off this weak form of the disease and then is prepared when the full disease attacks. Likewise, when you are presenting to an audience who has an opposing viewpoint standing in the wing, you have to “inoculate” them with a weakened form of the other side’s argument. If you know someone is going to attack your viewpoint, you prepare your audience in advance for the attack. The idea is to address the issues that your opponent will bring up and then directly refute them. The point to understand is that the inoculation must be a weak form of the “virus.” If you inoculated a human body with the strong strain of a disease, they could become sick or even die. The dose must be weak enough to prepare the body for the stronger virus but not so strong that it overpowers the body. In persuasion, you don’t want to give strong doses. You don’t want to give your prospects all the ammunition from the other side of the persuasive message. On the other hand, if you don’t prepare your audience for what they are about to hear, the sting of your opponent’s words, logic, or testimony might be too much for them to handle and they could switch sides.
We are surrounded by countless examples of inoculation, many of which are used in the courtroom. The attorney stands up and says, “The prosecution will call my client mean, evil, a terrible husband, and a poor member of society, but this is not true, as I will show you over the next couple of weeks….” So, when the prosecution stands up and states anything close to what the defense attorney has claimed they will, the jury is prepared, thinking he or she is acting exactly the way the defense said they would. This gives the jurors a way to ignore or even discount the prosecutor’s arguments.
Society needs to understand the importance of inoculation in regards to smoking, drugs, teenage pregnancy, and others issues. Street gangs also use this inoculation tool. When they are trying to recruit members to join their gang, they inoculate future gang members by telling them their parents, teachers, and cops will encourage them not to join. They will tell them all the reasons their opponents will give, fueling them with ammunition for the impending attack. This preparation enables him or her to handle the oncoming assault from parents, teachers, and others. We know our children will come in contact with forces that do not advocate the views and beliefs we would wish to instill in our kids. Who should be the first contact with your children – you, or the drug dealer? When you inoculate people, they can mentally prepare arguments supporting their stance. This reinforcement prevents them from switching teams. The more prepared they are, the more they’ll hold fast to their attitudes and beliefs. The more deeply this reinforcement is ingrained, the more difficult it will become for them to be swayed.
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