Your answer to this question is probably a resounding NO! Of course not. We all think we are good communicators and say the right things…. so we thought.
When I asked the audience at a workshop I was doing years ago if anyone had problems communicating, no one raised their hands.
Because we don’t think we have communication problems. We can communicate. In fact, most of us salespeople can be accused of talking too much! And there lies the problem; talking too much and saying the wrong thing. That’s how we lose the sale. Because anyone with excellent sales communication skills will NEVER have any problem making a lot of money selling, that’s the truth.
Sales Communication is your greatest advantage in sales
Let me let you in on a little secret. Well… not really a secret, but this may not be obvious to some. There are prospects all over the place, especially online, looking for you and wanting what you sell.
I am not lying. I see posts constantly from people looking for things they want and need. And I see business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs falling all over themselves trying to grab it but totally missing it because they are saying the wrong things.
They are not correctly communicating what the prospect WANTS to hear. They say the wrong things–all kinds of things that mean nothing to the potential buyers.
There are two big problems people MAKE ONLINE:
- Non-human communication. Responds that sound more like robots than humans–speaking like corporate mouthpieces instead of humans. So they mouth off pitches full of jargon to appear intelligent and cool but fail to realize that these corporate talks don’t communicate to most buyers. They may sound cool and impressive, but no one gets it–because it’s either way too long or complicated for a busy, overwhelmed brain looking to get some help. I am sure, if you pay attention, you’ll see them. In fact, I challenge you to look for them in online groups to train yourself to avoid being “that person.”
- Making it hard for others to buy or respond. Respond like: “That’s what I do. I can help you with that. Give me a call to see if there is a fit” — which translates to: “give me a call, and I will assess whether or not, you are qualified to be my client”. Doesn’t that sound uninspiring? Of course, it could also mean: “give me a call to see if I can be a provider for you”. Either way, the response implies that they want the prospective buyer to do the work. Another version of this is when the seller says something like, “Dm me and let me know what you need” or “I’d love to help you, DM me.” Way too lazy! You are asking the person for the work that you should be doing.
Here’s what I would have said:
“Hey, what you need seems to be the exact thing I help many clients with. I’ve looked at your profile (or website ), and I can see a lot of potential (or whatever is appropriate). I’ve messaged you my suggestions and some samples of my work. Please check your messages to see if what I provide is what you’re looking for, and I’ll check back with you later to see what you think”. This message says: I’ve done quick research, so I have some idea of what you may need; I’d like to be considered and here are samples of my work. I’ve quickly built likeability and trust, which are key components in sales communication. Make it easy for potential clients to like you.
Convince people to buy your stuff
Convince people to give you money
Convince people to do something (take action)
Help people and get help
Do you want proof that good messaging is essential in your sales pitch?
Here’s what one of my students said:
‘My biggest win on the course was how I pitch and the mindset shift which is to HELP the person who needed help, and my sales pitch came out from the heart and when I said it, it was not salesy at all.’
There are creeps online
Well… maybe not creeps but certainly people who do things that are creepy! For instance, you probably experienced one or both of these:
- you receive a creepy message from a stranger that says: “hey, how are you doing?”
- you get a friend request, you accept it, and immediately get a pitch from this person
It turns you off.
You feel awkward and uncertain about what to do with it. You start to feel weird.
Don’t worry, it’s not you.
When someone sends us an impersonal, out-of-the-blue message that does not vibe well with us, we get taken aback and we do several things:
- bark at the sender
- ignore it
- report it as spam
- block them out of our circle
Because we are human.
We deserve to have our existence acknowledged and our work noticed. In other words, be charmed and treated with respect.
So if you just come right out of the park and swing your selfish (one-sided) pitch at me, my most gracious response would be to ignore you. Sometimes, when you catch me in one of my “I need a coffee moment”, I’d bark at you. Ask my close circle of friends and they’d tell you that I’ve barked at them when they did that. “WTF are you doing? Why are you treating me this way?”, are some of what you’d hear from me because I know you could do better. And if you’ve been around me, you’d hear me say this over and over again: be human & pitch as if you know them.
Oh and by the way, if you are a friend and you know me well. Don’t go all weird on me and pretend you are not selling something to me. Come right out and tell me like a good friend.
Here are some weird, awkward examples of messages I received in the last few weeks.
1. “We are looking for empowering women like you, who want to share their stories of how they … in life, health, and in Business. Check out our group of amazing women which you definitely wish to be part of. Here’s the link which is free.”
2. “Hi, I hope all is well. Can I send you a link to my website to see if any of the products interest you? I know you’ll love them!”
3. “Hi Imie, I hope you are doing great. If you are in business and looking for a VA, I am your gal. I am available for a call to see if we are a fit. Here’s my calendar link….”
4. “Hi Imie, thanks for connecting. What do you do? I’d love to connect to see if what I offer might help you.” Hmmm… we are already connected. And my business is clearly visible on my profile.
What is wrong with these messages?
Two main faux pas in this approach
1. Self-centric. All the example messages above are self-centric. They are in it for themselves. They want something and there’s nothing in the message to suggest that there is something for me as well. If you are reading this, and think there is something for me in that message–think again.
2. Pitching blind. None of them have done any research before they messaged me, which to me, equates to not really caring who I am. They just want to know if I’ll be interested. Which I might be if approached correctly.
Convince me that there’s something for me, and you’ll get my attention.
But first, make an effort to know a bit about me so you can approach me in a way that will align with what I am doing or want to do.
You want me to HEAR you. Pay attention to YOU.
And for me to do that, you must grab my attention and interest. Not a generic, thoughtless, cut-and-paste message that is irrelevant to me. Check what I DO. What I LIKE. And try to personalize your message so it lands well in my space and grabs my attention. Remember AIDA?
You might say: isn’t that all about you?
Well, it is indeed! It’s all about me. After all, you are the one initiating the conversation. You want something from the prospect and so it is about me the prospect– that is if you want their attention.
Get in front of me
Get on my radar. If you’ve never liked, commented, or made any effort to interact with me in the open space of social media (profile, pages, groups), then you haven’t earned the right to pitch me.
If you haven’t made any effort to get an idea of what I might like, then I have no inclination to spare my precious time for you. It’s nothing personal, we’re both busy people. This is how most people see online business, selling, and marketing.
You see, the internet is FREE, and it allows us to market to the whole wide world. Just don’t make verbal vomit all over the place. It doesn’t work.
This may sound harsh to those with faint hearts. But there are unspoken rules and etiquette in business, marketing, and sales.
Networking Faux Pas
I see these mistakes in networking as well. People want to talk to as many people as they can and unload everything they can in such a short time and end up not making any real connection.
For instance, if you monopolize the conversation to try to impress everyone, you’ll likely not get invited again and people will avoid you.
It’s the nature of things.
I see this happen all the time.
The bottom line is this, there are business etiquettes and social etiquettes that grease our interaction and make it possible for us to interact, connect, and build deeper relationships efficiently and positively with less friction.
The Good News
That’s a lot to unload to you. But don’t despair. It’s not all bad 🙂
Something can be done about it if you are willing to show up your best, and improve your closing average. It starts with being aware of what you are doing that is not kosher or heart-centred. And taking full ownership and committing to change it in order to serve your audience best.
Start with these:
1. Always do your homework and know your potential prospect. Minimally, you’d want to know about their business, their likes, and dislikes. It will help you get an idea of what they might be open to. These are readily available in their profile. It also shows them that you made an effort to get to know them. If they don’t have this information on their profile, then it’s all right to message them to get more information. Like and comment on their post, so they see you are in their space. That’s your ticket to their front door.
Then when you message them with something like:
“hey, I was fascinated by your post in the group we both belong to. I am curious to know what you do. I don’t see it on your profile.”
Asking tactical questions to gather your sales intelligence will help you identify what they might like, and can then properly position yourself. Asking someone to check your website to see what they might like is like asking them to do some work for you and not giving them any compelling reason to do it.
2. Personalized your pitch with added value. Make it two-sided. Not just what’s good for you, but what’s in it for them?
Why should they check out your offer?
How will they benefit from your offer?
In lesson 6 of my Sales Masterclass, I teach the specific wording of a pitch that is full of value which you can personalize to suit your specific product or service.
You see, selling is simple if you know the steps to easily grease the conversation, and naturally, move them over to your side without compromising your personal integrity.
There are numerous ways to kill a deal.
But let’s focus on the most important deal breakers of all. In addition to not listening, talking too much is the no.1 deal killer. Not just in sales conversations, it’s also a deal breaker in networking and in other business settings. I bet you can remember a time or conversation where you can’t wait to run away from the talker!
Can this be improved? Absolutely!
If your sales and business growth are not where they should be, it may be time to put some effort into your business communication etiquette.
You hear that right!
Talking too much or god forbid, talking too loud is a major faux pas. It’s up there with swearing like a drunken sailor. At least, that’s how it is perceived by most people. It’s disrespectful.
TO CHANGE SOMETHING, ONE MUST FIRST UNDERSTAND WHAT’S BEHIND THIS BEHAVIOR.
When people talk too much, they are either:
- A narcissist who thinks they are important and entertaining, unaware of others’ importance.
- Shy people who lack self-esteem and try to babble out their nerves talking. They want to prove they are worthy.
Nervousness and lack of self-esteem trigger anxiety and can cause people to talk too much to compensate. We FAIL to listen when we spend a big part of the conversation talking.
I used to do this when I was starting out. I was nervous and felt I had to talk and impress people.
Then I met someone that made a big impact on me.
He was charming.
People were drawn to him. Whenever he spoke, people would surround him and they would listen attentively. He wasn’t annoyingly boastful.
He seldom spoke about himself. He simply granted everyone the opportunity to speak and he listened.
He also did his best to compliment people around him.
That’s when I become aware of my bad habit and decided that he was going to be my model. I wanted to be him when I grow up!
Ever since then, I made an effort to get better.
When I got better at my craft and raised my confidence level, I didn’t feel “I had” to fill in the conversation. I was able to relax and enjoy the conversation without feeling like I have to make a good impression with my talkative self. I was able to silence that persona in my head.
This was a major shift in my life and business.
Now I let the silence linger–and it’s okay. No anxiety there. I can let others dominate the conversation while I listen. This allowed me to pick up the cues, and really know the person I am speaking with or the people around me. I got to know more about people.
Recently, someone had mentioned to someone else (who later informed me of it), that she thought I was charming and very intelligent. This surprised me because I hardly spoke at that event. I was actually enjoying everyone’s chatter. How could anyone say that I was intelligent when I hardly said anything?
That, my dear, is the power of silence!
How to silence the beast in your head and raise your soft power.
Listening is more powerful than being a chatterbox.
Change your approach, change your life
- Get better at your craft and at what you do. You’ll raise that confidence at the highest level, and gather the right energy to project the right posture. You’ll feel like you’ve “arrived” and you don’t need to impress, convince anyone or make apologies. You are you and you are awesome the way you are. No need to prove anything to anyone. When you reach this point, you’ll know it, because, at this level, you no longer have the urge to tell people that you are good at something, or that you have this and that, or you know so and so, and that you can do this and that. You’ll just casually mention it at the right moment.
This quote says it all for me by former UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher:
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
- Raise your awareness and presence. Because when you DO, you’ll be able to respect the settings and will not dare speak too loud or too much. You will be fully aware of who’s who, what they do, and how you can help them just by listening. And when it’s time to pitch, you’ll be able to use what you’ve learned in your messaging so it lands beautifully well in their ears. And because you listened, they’ll respect you when you speak.
It’s understandable that salespeople have a lot to say. We try to unload a lot of things all at once to cover all the bases.
This is a mistake.
No one wishes to experience information overload. Verbal vomit is a problem. Don’t be a problem. You don’t want to be remembered as “that person who talked too much”.
They don’t want to be “convinced” or “manipulated.”
So if you are trying to get a prospect to listen to you, agree with you, and be on your side, you will make a dog’s breakfast out of the sales conversation. You’ll alienate and tune them out. They’ll appear to be listening and somewhat interested. They might even say they agree with you, but they will not say YES to your offer. Because this kind of agreement is a false agreement. What they really want you to do is to shut up. So they will agree with you to end the conversation and move on.
Don’t explain. Don’t make an argument or try to explain your position. Don’t try to talk someone into something. Because this position projects the idea that you are right and they are wrong.
It doesn’t work.
And if you find yourself explaining, know that you’ve already lost the sale, and it’s time to recalibrate and change your approach or backtrack.
What works best?
If you want to get anyone on your side for anything, you need to:
- Disarm them. And to do that, you need to give them the idea that you will not force them into doing anything without their agreement. But don’t say, “I am not selling you anything.” This will be insincere because you will sell them something. Rather, be present and listen. Starts the conversation right and build rapport. Invest your time learning more about their issues and understanding what drives them. What motivates them, and what do they want in life? You need to gather enough information. This is your sales intelligence. And use the sales process to guide them into wanting to “change.”
- Demonstrate empathy. Be on their side. Not just telling them that you “understand” them or that you get it, but demonstrate in your communication that you “get them.” It’s a precise skill, and I teach that in my Heartcore Masterclass. You want them to feel that energy. Make them FEEL heard.
- Show them nirvana. Show them the possibility of getting them out of their pain and suffering. Show them there is a solution. But… not just pitch, but provide a good reason why they should, highlighting the value of your offer. This is an important pitch, and I share the exact wording in the masterclass, and all you have to do is fill in the blanks.
The three steps above are done in sequence. These steps are broken down into simple steps in the sales process, and once you understand the sequence, the steps, what exact questions to ask, and how to respond correctly, you will naturally get anyone on your side, whether they are ready to buy or not. They’ll be impressed with you and glad they’ve chatted with you.
It was a dreary England morning when I walked out of my Airbnb to go to the nearest town for groceries.
I decided to walk instead of calling an Uber. I figured I’d wander around in town and enjoy the scenery. It is, after all, England, where everything seems to grow mystically well.
Heading down east Grinstead, I met an old lady that came out from one of the cottages (they call their homes cottages–I was staying at the wilderness cottage). We started chatting and I told her that the area is such a wonderful place despite the gloomy weather; I even saw a herd of deers roaming the ravines.
“Oh yeah, they are plenty around. But did you see the white one?”
White deer? No, I’ve never seen one.” I said to her.
“Well, if you get lucky you might see one. It only shows up for certain people.”
We said goodbye and she went back to tending her garden.
When I got back to our Airbnb, I asked the host about the white deer and she said she has never seen one and she’s been in this property for over 5 years. Interesting I thought.
The next morning, I made myself a coffee and as I opened the sliding door to look at the ravine down below, I saw her…standing a few feet from the door.
She looked right at me!
Speechless and shocked but I quickly acknowledged her grace, she nodded, and then made a swift about-face and galloped down the hill to the herd, where they were grazing.
I put down my coffee and grabbed my phone to take this picture.
I told everyone about it, but they didn’t believe me. Luckily I have a picture of this moment, albeit grainy because of the distance.
She looked magnificent. With her long and graceful neck, she grazed with rhythm, certainty and providence. Yes, providence–she is a goddess and acted like one.
I had forgotten about it, but my conversation today with someone reminded me of this moment. She shared with me the significance of a white deer.
So after our conversation, I googled the subject and here are some bits of what I found:
“Usually, white animals were seen during soul-quests or vision-quests…. When white occurs in the animal realm, it is a message of:
- higher thoughts
- higher ideals
- purity of soul
- cleansing of spirit
- attaining higher knowledge ”
“King Arthur’s repeatedly unsuccessful pursuit of the white stag represents mankind’s quest for spiritual knowledge….”
A coincidence or a prophecy?
I didn’t go to England on vacation. I went there for some spiritual enlightenment. And whether my purpose, transformation and spiritual quest have anything to do with this encounter…it’s anyone’s guess.
All I know is that I’ve never been the same.
There are people out there who are ready to hand you their money.
But there are also people who are not even aware they have a problem that you can solve, so it will take more time for you to make them want your product or service. That’s why it’s important to know that not all prospects are the same.
This is obvious.
Yet, almost all salespeople treat all potential buyers the same way.
What you say to a prospect, and how to say it should be unique, based on where they are at as a buyer. Because each prospect is at a certain point in the buyer’s journey.
What is a buyer’s journey?
It’s a cognitive process that the buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate (the product/service), and make the buying decision. They are categorized into 4 categories:
1. Desperate Buyers
These are the buyers that have been looking for what you offer and they needed it yesterday. They are ready to buy whatever it is you’re selling and they are the easiest to sell to. You simply ask the call-to-action question:
- How many would you like?
- How soon do you want it?
- How would you like to pay for it?
- How do you want it delivered?
Know them and treat them accordingly by focusing on answering their questions and saying very little.
About 3% of your prospects will be desperate buyers.
2. The Not-So Desperate Buyers
They are neither desperate nor in a hurry. They want to think it over. They are receptive to buying but may not show it. They are interested and may say, “Not right now.” But they are willing to listen and check it out. Given the right offer and the right approach, they will buy. To sell to them, you simply need to know what they want, and effectively position yourself and your product to match that need. Add urgency to nudge them along. Apply step 4 & 5 of the sales process and you’ll get them.
3. The Mild No
They say no, but it’s a mild rejection. It’s not a “hell no”. They are not firm and they don’t give the impression that they might change their mind. They say things like “Not right now” or “I’d love to, but no.” They have a legitimate objection that you need to uncover and handle–step 7 of the sales process. Maybe there is something they don’t like, or are not impressed by your offer. Maybe they don’t like what you are saying (your approach). Whatever it is, you need to work on removing that obstacle before you can get ahead.
These Mild No buyers can be turned into Yes Buyers with the right skill.
4. The Absolutely No
These people either don’t have the need for your product, dislike your offer, or hate your guts. Dig deeper to find out which one it is. If they don’t have the need for your offer, ask them if they know someone who does. It’s absolutely pointless to try to convince this buyer. You may get the sale eventually if you are very persuasive, or apply pressure, but they’ll hate you for it and definitely will not mention you to their friends. If it’s the case of dislike or hate, you can actually use this to your advantage and do a repair action (sort of a public relation job to change their views). I teach how to handle this type in my advance coaching.
Selling to any these types is not rocket science, but you do need to know how to do it.
I took a limo from my hotel to Dallas airport this week. It wasn’t because I have a wad of cash to throw around. I just blew my budget on the conference.
But rather, I was informed by the hotel concierge that over 7,000 Mary Kay reps are in town and have used up all available taxis. Impressive! I guess they left their pink Cadillacs at home.
So he offered me the privilege of a limo for the price of a taxi.
I was picked up right on time by the limo service owner himself, and we started chatting on our way to the airport. I loved talking to taxi (and limo) drivers because they always seem to know the best place to eat and the best place to go. They have their ears and pulse on the city—wherever I go.
The driver, named Abdullah, asked me what I do for a living, and I said, “I am a sales trainer. I train salespeople how to sell without being pushy.”
“Perfect! You should teach car salespeople how to sell!” he exclaimed.
Then he proceeded to tell me how a pushy salesman lost a big sale. His story went something like this: He went into a GM dealership with the intention of buying six luxury SUVs for his business. He knew what he wanted. He spent months researching and needed to see the cars and test them. But as soon as he walked into the dealership, the salesman was onto him. He was “breathing on my neck,” he said, “telling me all kinds of specs I didn’t care about.” So Mr. Abdullah left the shop in a hurry.
“He treated me like a moron—someone who knew nothing about cars. I am a businessman who researches what I need before I go shopping. All I wanted him to do was help me—not sell to me,” he said.
So he went to another dealership. He told me how he purchased his six Lincoln Navigators from this one dealership!
I felt sorry for that person who lost a BIG commission. That’s a month worth of commission in one sales transaction.
“I walked in, and the salesman came to greet me and he said: ‘all our best cars are here in our showroom. Take time to check them out, get to know them, and if you need to take one of them for a spin, I am right here to hand you the key.’ That’s it, and I was left alone. After that, I told him what I wanted, and the price I wanted to pay. He helped me get what I wanted. I left the shop a very happy man.”
Sounds like a beautiful, calm, and very professional kind of transition.
Truth is, we make more sales not trying too hard. This reminds me of a quote from a guy named Gary Halbert who said: “you can sell more by not selling”.
What’s the moral of the story here?
First assess, then ask questions to fully understand what the prospective buyer is after. What matters to them and prepare to really listen. Because what you THINK may not be what they are after.
Never assumed. Once you understand what they are looking for, then, only then can you make suggestions. Jump all over them with your overly enthusiastic persona, and you’ll overwhelm them.
Our eagerness to help people as soon as they appear is our biggest fault and cause of failed sales.
“How much?” I asked.
“Twelve euros,” she responded.
I turned the hat over, inspecting it; trying to decide if I want to spend that much on a cotton hat (I already have half a dozen hats sitting prettily at home).
Then she reminded me of my desire—to not burn my face: “It’s very hot today, and your gorgeous face will thank you for covering it.”
She didn’t try to justify the price. She was confident that I would not go away without a hat on my head in the middle of a hot day. I was 90% sold, but I was still hesitant. I was hoping I’d find a hat that was made in Europe instead of China. She picked up on my hesitation. “What’s holding you back?”
“I was hoping for something made from here” I said.
She turned around, grabbed a bright red hat from the rack and handed it to me. “Thirty euros.” read more…
Do you feel at times like you’re stuck in mud or molasses?
Unmoving—in life or business?
There is one simple trick to get yourself moving forward in the right direction.
In the late 80s, one of the most gruelling jobs I’ve ever held was a position as Hotel Front Desk/Receptionist at a Ramada Inn. It involved greeting and registering arriving guests, as well as answering incoming calls—sometimes all at once. The job demanded multi-tasking skills and the ability to refrain from yelling obscenities when under pressure. read more…
I have had a long-standing relationship with sales that, no matter what I do, somehow manages take on jobs that relate to sales… in some aspect.
Sometimes, it’s all love (when the buyer believe I descended from heaven and granted her wish).
Other times, it’s full of uncertainty.
It all started when my mother dragged me by the ears (maybe I am exaggerating a little) during one of her sales escapades. I use the term escapade because she loved doing it. But the truth was, that’s how we fed ourselves—selling stuff—so it was also a life and death matter for us. Unless you hustle, you starved. That was the norm. But she was so passionate about it, I never saw her struggle with it. She thrived on it, like a car needing gas to keep running. read more…