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Learn to Listen for What You Don't Know

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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One of the joys of doing pre-call research is that it can help you uncover the drivers and motivators a client doesn't always share. One of the hazards is you can think you're smarter than you are.

One sales manager recently shared an experience she had on a ridealong with a member of her sales force. The client began to tell the rep about something going on in the company. The rep replied with, "I know, I read it in the paper and..." Then proceeded to share everything he had learned. The problem is that what the customer really wanted was to vent... she looked at the rep and said "You DON'T know..." and lit into him.

Here's the lesson: let the customer tell you their own story, their way. You will pick up more than just the basic information- you'll also pick up emotions and nuances that will help you uncover motivators and drivers.
 


Interested in learning more ways to enhance your listening skills? Communispond offers many programs to help with this, but to name a few: Socratic Selling Skills® and Momentum Selling for Salesforce.com®.

Learn more about Socratic Selling Skills® >

Learn more about Momentum Selling for a Salesforce.com® >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, Connection, Listening Skills

Quick Tip: Audience Control

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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Here's a lesson in audience control from Communispond's book,  "The Full Force of Your Ideas - Mastering the Science of Persuasion".
New Call-to-action The technique is based on the work of hypnotist Milton Erickson who believed you could more quickly work up a rapport with a subject (or an audience) by what he called "Pacing and Leading".

In a nutshell, this means matching the audience or subject's energy level and body language, then leading them in the direction you wish to go.

Let's say the audience is hyper and distracted. If you start at a low energy level, you might not capture them. On the other hand, if they are reserved and quiet, and you start too loud and boisterous you might alienate them before you even have them.

Once you match their energy level, you can then vary your own energy up or down as necessary, as you'll have established a rapport.

Take a moment to test your audience; meet them where they are, and they'll be more willing to follow you.

Interested in learning more about controlling your audience? Communispond offers two programs that can help: Executive Presentation Skills and EPS Anywhere.

Learn more about Executive Presentation Skills® >

Can't attend in person? Attend virtually.

  Learn more about EPS Anywhere >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Echo, Presentation Tips, Public Speaking, Presentation Skills, Communication Skills

4 Unexpected Ways Customers Ask You to Close

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 @ 09:51 AM

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The heavy lifting in a sales process occurs in three phases: 1) you gain an understanding of the customer's needs, 2) you create a relationship with the customer, 3) you link the customer's need to your product. When you have successfully completed the three phases, the sale should follow as naturally as day follows night. But what actually happens next? 

It would be nice if the customer said, “I can see how this product meets my needs. I’m ready to buy. Where do I sign?” But I doubt any customer has ever said that in the entire history of sales. Customers don’t want to risk looking foolish. They don’t want to be vulnerable. They don’t want to foreclose the possibility of the best possible deal. They are more likely to signal readiness by sending buying signals.

A buying signal is anything you can detect as a positive change in the customer’s attitude toward the product. If the customer begins to physically handle the product, for example, many salespeople interpret that as a buying signal. If she asks to test it or try it out; if she asks about delivery times or terms; if she asks for references; if she asks about buying incentives; these are all signs that the customer has begun to interact with the product. 

At this point, you should know the customer well enough to be able to interpret buying signals. But there are four types of buying signals that you may not recognize.

1. Raising a question that was already answered. Don’t be impatient when a customer brings up an old question that you have already dealt with. This could be simple forgetfulness, but it’s more likely a sign of interest. “I know we already covered the service guarantee, but we could we talk about that again?” In answering a question that has already been covered, try to do it in a way that helps the customer picture himself living with the product: “The service guarantee is designed to ensure your team has zero downtime.”

2. Objecting to price. It may be counterintuitive, but when a customer objects to the price, it’s often a sign of readiness. She wants to buy, but she wants to make sure she is getting value. Deal with a price objection, not by defending the price, but by offering terms or timing that may make the purchase easier.

3. Challenging you. This is the most counterintuitive of all, but when a customer challenges you or your policies, it’s often a buying signal. “How do I know you’ll honor the service guarantee?” or “What if I don’t want to pay that large a deposit?” A challenge is often not an objection but an opening negotiation gambit. 

4. Asking for advice or guidance. A customer may say something like, “What would you do if you were me?” This question is not a direct interaction with the product, but it’s a fairly clear signal you have successfully built a relationship and the customer respects and trusts you. Take your responsibility seriously here. Recommend a decision that leads to purchase, but be as honest as you can. 

Learn more about Socratic Selling Skills® >

Learn more about Momentum Selling for a Salesforce.com® >

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, Salesforce, Communication Skills

How to Respond to Buying Signals

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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Many sales managers think the hardest thing for sales people to do is recognize a buying signal from a customer. Actually, it's harder for some of us to hear them and not react.

We love to hear customers say they have needs that our product or service can fill. If they say something like, "We need a widget that can be repaired easily", it's all we can do not to jump in with, "Well, our widgets have the lowest repair cost in the industry..." and start pitching for all we're worth. The customer becomes defensive and tunes out our sales spiel.

A more useful skill is to take note of the buying signal, and let the customer continue talking. They may mention even more ways their needs match what you have and wind up selling themselves on your service. Rather than sell to only one benefit, you may encounter multiple benefits to the buyer. When you do make a proposal, it's focused with laser accuracy on what they need.

Note the buying signals, but don't react to them too quickly.


Interested in learning more ways to increase your sales? Communispond offers many programs to help with this, but to name a few: Socratic Selling Skills® and Momentum Selling for Salesforce.com®.

Learn more about Socratic Selling Skills® >

Learn more about Momentum Selling for a Salesforce.com® >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, Connection, Listening Skills

Quick Statistics: Body Language Matters

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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New scientific evidence proves what we've always known intuitively - audience response can affect whether you think you do your job well or not.

A study at Texas Christian University was conducted by comparing professor self-assessments and job satisfaction with end-of-course student assessments. Then, they analyzed the differences:

  • 26% of the variation in their self-assessment was based on verbal and non-verbal feedback from participants.
  • 53% of teacher's job satisfaction came from the responses of class participants.

Interestingly, the study also showed that the professors gave nonverbal communication (body language and facial expressions) more weight than verbal responses.

What do you see when you look at your audiences?


Interested in learning more about the importance of body language? Communispond offers two programs that can help: Executive Presentation Skills and EPS Anywhere.

Learn more about Executive Presentation Skills® >

Can't attend in person? Attend virtually.

  Learn more about EPS Anywhere >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: nonverbal communication, Echo, Public Speaking, Presentation Skills, Communication Skills

4 Ways to Add Expressiveness to Your Voice

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 @ 10:48 AM
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When you address an audience, there are four ways to make your voice expressive: volume, pitch, rate, and timbre.

  1. Volume is probably the most difficult quality for business professionals to increase. We work in offices all day, and most of us instinctively use our “indoor voices” in conversation. We hunch over at our desks, and we probably speak softly into the telephone to preserve our privacy. Habits like these make us soft-spoken, which is the last thing you want when you’re in front of an audience.

    When you deliver a presentation, you will probably attempt to set your volume, on a scale of 1 to 10, at about 5. But 5 is unlikely to make you heard in the last row. Furthermore, in order to make the voice most expressive, you need to put your volume at seven or eight, and keep it there. Stand up straight and allow your chest to expand. That way, your whole body increases your resonance. Speak not from the throat but from the face. And try this. Take a slightly deeper breath at the beginning of a sentence and take short replenishing breaths throughout the sentence. This will slow your speech somewhat (see “rate” below), and it will also let you increase the range of your pitch and your timbre. 
  1. Pitch describes the high and low notes in your speech. Scientific research has shown that infants, who are extremely attuned to the sound of the human voice, show a preference for high-pitched, tuneful speech. This preference obviously predates our understanding of language and, although we eventually learn to attribute most meaning to words, we retain some ability to extract meaning from variations in pitch. Ending a sentence on a high note, for example, turns it into a question. Ending it with a level or slightly lower pitch makes it an affirmation. If you end a sentence on a high note when it is not clearly a question, the audience at some level will perceive you as expressing doubt about what you’re saying. Learn the meaning of pitch and use it to your advantage.
  1. Rate can signal intent to the audience. As you slow your rate of speech, you increase the emphasis. As you speed up your speech, you signal excitement or humor. But be aware of something I call “presentation relativity.” You have more information than the audience and you know what’s coming, so you can experience a sort of time contraction. A pause that seems very long to you likely seems much briefer to your audience. And when you think you are speaking at a normal rate, you’re probably speaking faster than normal. Factor presentation relativity into your efforts to vary your talking speed.
  1. Timbre (pronounced TAM-ber) is defined by the American National Standards Institute, in so many words, as all the difference between two sounds that is not volume, pitch, or rate. It is, in other words, a highly subjective quality. In a presentation, the timbre of a sound is its emotionality or attitude. Imagine being asked by a tough-looking stranger, “Are you going somewhere, friend?” Much of the hostility is conveyed through timbre. Because it is so subjective and largely automatic, you have to control timbre by controlling your attitude.

No audience can be won over without passion, and passion cannot be expressed in monotone. Control and vary your volume, pitch, rate, and timbre to bring out the passion in your speech.


Want to learn more about effective public speaking?

Learn more about Executive Presentation Skills® >

Tags: Presentation Tips, Sales Presentation, Presentation Skills

5 Tips for Selling Over the Phone

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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Selling by phone is much easier than selling in person -- or is it? You don't have to worry about looking exactly right. And you certainly don't have your customer staring at you waiting for your next words.

But, the only information your customer receives comes from your voice and your actual words; they're not getting any visual information from you to keep their interest. And you can't read their body language, either. For all you know, your customer may be checking his e-mails as you're talking. So, how do you hold your customer's attention on the phone?

Here are a five tips:

  1. Send your customer an e-mail agenda for your meeting, so you've established a starting agenda.
  2. Ask open questions, so your customer does most of the talking.
  3. Use the same listening and dialogue skills you would incorporate face to face.
  4. Stand up when you talk, so your voice comes alive.
  5. Place your notes next to your phone.
You'll keep your customer focused on you and what you can do for them, not on their e-mail inbox.


Interested in learning more about selling over the phone? Communispond offers many programs to help with this, but to name a few: Socratic Selling Skills® and Momentum Selling for Salesforce.com®.

Learn more about Socratic Selling Skills® >

Learn more about Momentum Selling for a Salesforce.com® >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, Telephone Skills, Connection

3 Areas Necessary to Create Powerful Presentations

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle identified the three areas necessary to create powerful persuasive presentations. How do your presentations stack up?

  1. The appeal to reason
  2. The appeal to emotion
  3. The character and credibility of the speaker
A presentation lacking in any of these will be less powerful. A presentation where all of these are present is unbeatable.

When you create a presentation, do you build in elements that will boost the power of all three components? What's missing could make the difference between success and frustration.



Interested in learning tips for delivering powerful presentations? Communispond offers two programs that work on presentation skills: Executive Presentation Skills and EPS Anywhere.

Learn more about Executive Presentation Skills® >

Can't attend in person? Attend virtually.

Learn more about EPS Anywhere >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Echo, Public Speaking, Presentation Skills, Communication Skills

3 Reasons You Cannot Sell by Email

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Mon, Aug 10, 2015 @ 10:03 AM

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A career advice article in the Wall Street Journal ("Bosses Say 'Pick Up the Phone'") discussed the problem of declining sales at a company in Halifax called Metro Guide Publishing: “Ms. Baxter [the firm’s publisher] identified a reason: Her sales staff, all under age 35, were emailing clients with their pitches, not calling them on the phone.”

The article goes on to suggest that “phone phobia” is common among younger people who grew up with a very wide array of communication options. Phone calls are, by their nature, interruptive, and many young people see them as overly intrusive. I am sympathetic to this point of view. But if you sell, you need to pick up the phone.

There are three reasons that email is an inappropriate communication medium for sales.

1. It is easy to misinterpret. Email conveys neither body language nor tone of voice. Some people try to supply more nuance to it with emoticons, but even with little smiley faces, it is dreadfully easy to ignite misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and even flame wars. This is not an environment in which to communicate a sales proposition.

2. Nobody reads long messages. Given our expectations of email and the inherent strain of reading on a screen, long messages get ignored. Since most selling propositions are too complex to get across briefly, email can’t convey an effective pitch. 

3. It’s asynchronous. This is the number one reason you can’t sell by email. Sales requires a conversation and real-time dialogue. It’s about probing to find the customer’s need and then filling that need. That kind of probing isn’t just difficult to do asynchronously. It’s impossible. 

That’s not to say there’s no place for email in the selling process. If you’re good at crafting brief, provocative messages, you may be able to use the medium to help you get an appointment for a meeting or a telephone call. Here’s a sample message.

Our company specializes in helping organizations reduce communications costs. We recently implemented a project for Acme Company that lowered their annual costs by 20%.

May I get 10 minutes on your calendar to discuss how such a project might work for your company?

If Acme Company is well-known to the prospect, a message like that has a much better chance of engaging the customer than a long, complex pitch – particularly if Acme Company is a competitor. Notice, however, that the only thing being “offered for sale” in this message is a conversation about something of interest to the prospect.

If you have sales people who are hesitant to call customers and prospects on the phone, don’t let them believe they can sell by email. Get them to put in phone time. One way to do that is to make the phone more attractive to them.

Teach them the skills they need for effective conversation. Selling skills can be learned. So can the skills of persuasive dialogue. It’s an interesting characteristic of a skill – any skill – that if you have it, you want to use it. At Communispond, we have found that if you train people to ask the right questions and to listen actively in order to guide the conversation, they are eager to get on the phone and exercise those skills.

Learn more about Socratic Selling Skills® >

Learn more about Persuasive Dialogue >

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, Connection

Quick Tip: Using Collaborative Language with Clients

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Thu, Aug 06, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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Here's one simple tip you can use to strengthen your relationships with your clients.

When you're talking to your customer, use collaborative language. Instead of saying "yours" or "mine," use words like "we," "us," "let's" or "ours."

Using collaborative language helps your customer see how you might work together to address the customer's situation. When you get past "mine" to "ours," you create a positive environment that will foster teamwork and build a relationship that lasts long-term.


Interested in learning more about strengthening your relationships? Communispond offers many programs to help with this, but to name a few: Socratic Selling Skills®, Persuasive Dialogue, and Momentum Selling for Salesforce.com®.

Learn more about Socratic Selling Skills® >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, Connection