ConnectWise’s IT Nation featured best-selling author Daniel Pink, who gave a succinct keynote message, defined by animating ideas, guiding principles and specific, practical takeaways. He started with the reminder that even those in attendance who didn’t have “sales” in their title, the reality is “you’re all in sales, and you’re selling all the time.”
Sales has changed more in the last 10 years than in the previous 100 years, he added. Prior to 2010, most buying decisions were made on instinct and buyers were typically less knowledgeable than sellers. Since then, buyers have become empowered with information, and they’re less likely to pay too much for a product or service.
The old motto for sales, A-B-C, stood for “Always Be Closing.” In today’s informed buyer environment, a more effective A-B-C sales model, says Pink, is attunement, buoyancy and clarity:
Attunement — Having empathy toward the buyer. One of the best ways to get in tune with a potential buyer is by mirroring their body language (without being too overt) and mirroring their language. Conversely, one of the biggest mistakes TSPs make is using technical terminology when talking to buyers who aren’t familiar with tech speak. When you do that, it often creates communication barriers and hinders the sale process.
Buoyancy — Staying afloat in an ocean of rejection. To avoid becoming defeated by all the “No’s” you have to deal with in sales, remember the three P’s:
- Personal – When a prospect doesn’t buy from you it’s not that they personally “hate” you. Avoid making rejection about you.
- Pervasive – Another pitfall to avoid is the belief that “this always happens.”
- Permanent — Just because someone says no right now doesn’t mean that’s their forever answer.
Talking back to yourself after facing sales rejection to make sure you’re not succumbing to the “Three P” pitfalls above will make you a more buoyant salesperson, says Pink.
Clarity — Move beyond problem-solving to problem finding. Being a problem solver is good, but it’s becoming a commoditized skill, warns pink. Strive instead to help customers and prospects uncover latent problems or hidden problems that they don’t even know they have.
3 Sales Tips You Probably Never Heard Before
The final points Pink made during his talk were on topics I hadn’t heard before and unless you’ve read his recent books, I’m betting you may not have either:
- Don’t fall for the extravert myth. Who’s better at sales – introverts or extraverts? he asks. We’ve all been taught that the outgoing person is the clear winner, but there’s surprisingly little difference in the two group’s sales effectiveness. Actually, the most successful salesperson is a third personality type, which Pink calls an ambivert. Going back to the mirroring advice mentioned earlier, the ambivert is able to turn up or down their “outgoingness” based on who they’re talking with to better align with the prospect’s personality type. The good news? Most people aren’t introverts or extroverts, they’re somewhere in between and able to adjust to the situation. In other words, you’re probably already an ambivert, so use it to your advantage.
- A little negativity can actually be positive. Another surprising revelation Pink shared during his talk was regarding a sales study that compared two lists. One list included only positive information about the product and the second list included all positive info and concluded with one small negative point, such as the product was only available in a few colors or there was a limited number available. The list containing the small negative point actually led to more sales because it triggered a “Compared to what?” response from the buyer, said Pink. Most buyers know that no product is perfect. When a small blemish is revealed at the end of the list it tends to make the product more attractive. If no negative is listed, on the other hand, it tends to cause the prospect to add their own negatives, which creates the opposite effect.
- Context is more important than personality. As a whole, Pink says, we tend to overemphasize a salesperson’s personality and underemphasize the importance of context. If you’re trying to sell a security solution, for example, instead of trying to convince a prospect that threats are increasing along with their business risk and they need to buy your solution, help them understand the problem in light of their risk management strategy. Many decision makers know that risk isn’t something that can be completely eliminated from their business; the best they can do is make decisions that minimize risk and take steps to manage their risk. That’s the same way security works. No one’s 100% safe from cyberattacks, but there are things a business can do to reduce their chances of an attack and minimize potential damages. Equally important, prospects need to know their technology solution providers are going to be there for them should a data breach or other security problem occur.
One final call-to-action Pink made was that instead of putting so much emphasis on changing people’s minds about a product or service, spend more time getting people to act. The key, he says, is to make it easier for customers and prospects to do stuff and to work with you. For more great tips from Daniel Pink, follow him on Twitter (@DanielPink) and check out his website: danpink.com