Thursday, 13 September 2007

Open mouth - change feet

Wow! I understand stage fright, but I don't understand this... Odds are, if you're much of an internet surfer, you've seen this clip already:

It's a clip of Laura Caitlin Upton, the Miss Teen America contestant from South Carolina, giving her answer to a question about education and geography: "Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"

Seeing it written out word for word is almost scarier:
"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps. And I believe that our education, like, such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere, like such as, and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for our children."

Maybe she got left behind, if you know what I mean.
This story is a few weeks old, but I just thought the clip with the subtitles was hilarious and when I saw it, it made me (of course) want to relate it back to persuasion and sales. This comes under the title of "Why talking too much loses the sale".

We're not all on stage in front of thousands or hundreds of people and so, in all fairness, don't understand the pressure the girl was under. On the other hand, there are fifty states (I think, I'll have to send Laura an e-mail to verify this) and I don't see video clips all over the internet and television of the other forty-nine contestants blathering on nonsensically.

When we persuade, (as Ms. Upton was trying to do with the judges - persuade them to choose her above the others), it is not about filling the air with words. It is about aiming our messages straight at what the client or prospect needs.

Regardless of whether or not her physicality was pleasing enough to win is really the issue in this case and the fact that she came in third is truly an indication that this was not a brains contest, but a beauty contest. She appeared poised, at least. I'll say that for her. Also, she's not hard to look at, just hard to listen to.

Without proper training, you may be perceived as a bumbling idiot. If we take a lesson from Ms. Upton's "answer" to the question, it should be this:
Sometimes less is better. If we don't have answers, we need to keep our traps shut unless we are blessed with the gift of gab and can fake it until we come up with something passable, at the very, very least.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Procrastination. Never taking NOW for an answer!

Here's a situation I heard several times while reviewing recorded calls from salespeople.
Prospect: "We're not ready yet. Give me a call back later in the quarter."
Sales Rep: "Umm, how about the beginning of November?"
Prospect: "Sure."

Here's another.
Prospect: "We're still giving it some consideration. Just not ready yet."
Sales Rep: "OK, how about if I call you back in a couple of months?"
Prospect: That's fine.

One more:
Prospect: "Not a good time for it now. Maybe later."
Sales Rep: "Well, how about I check back with you at the end of the year?"
Prospect: "OK."

Notice the trend? What's happening here?

In each case, the salesperson is in no better of a position after the call than he was before it. Actually, he is worse off, since he has now scheduled a follow-up call to a person who may never buy anything. This is why some salespeople are always busy, but never show any real results. And it compounds over time.In each situation, the prospect validated the delay by suggesting a call back time, instead of focusing on the reason for any interest, and the delay.

I urge you to follow two basic premises:
1. If you're ultimately going to get a "no," it's much better to hear it today than six weeks, six months, or six calls from now.
2. If you're placing a follow-up call, know why.Consider that if you allow someone to put you off, and you ultimately hear a "no" on the very next call (if you're lucky), you likely didn't just waste that one additional call. Think of how many attempts it might have taken to finally reach them. To illustrate the magnitude of this problem over time, multiply that number by the number of times you let some people put you off. Then multiply that by the number of times this happens to you per week. Mind boggling!

RECOMMENDATIONS OK, so what should you do? Again, let's find out why they say what they do. Don't dwell on the "when" of a call back; instead focus on WHY they feel a call back would even be necessary.
Let's take each of the examples and provide better responses.
Prospect: "We're not ready yet. Give me a call back later in the quarter."
Sales Rep: "I'll be happy to give you a call back. What will make that a better time for you? What will have to happen for you to move on it?"

Prospect: "We're still giving it some consideration. Just not there yet."
Sales Rep: "I see. What is it that you are considering?"

One more:
Prospect: "Not a good time for it now. Maybe later."
Sales Rep: "Hmm, what would make later a better time?"

Notice, again, that we're trying to understand the reason for the delay. And we're using their terms whenever possible.
And don't think that this approach is pushy; it's simply direct. If there is a future event that would make later a better time for them, so be it. Let's just find out what it is.

Feel free to pass this on and that goes for the Gobshites that copy and paste from this blog in Nottingham.