Put your game face on. Here's how to look at your sales conversations as a game, and how to be an all-star at it.
A winning mindset can be developed by imagining the entire conversation as a game. Think of it as a very simple game played on a football field. Each team starts at one end of the field, but the objective isn’t to make it to the other end of the field. Points aren’t scored at the expense of the opposition, but rather the objective is to meet the other team at the 50-yard line.
Just like football, conversation has a few rules. Following the rules outlined below will help you to develop an appreciation of the art of a sales pitch and make it something you look forward to.
Rule 1: Keep yourself on a verbal shot-clock
Imagine that there is a shot clock that doesn’t count down, but up. You need to set yourself up to hit a certain time and then stop talking.
It feels intuitive and comfortable to keep talking and seemingly maintain control of the conversation, but in reality, it does exactly the opposite. It’s important to acknowledge the value of ideas and plans you bring to the table but don’t cheapen them with too much talk. It’s even more important to appreciate the sophistication and understanding of the situation the client brings. Respect it and give them time to think and draw their own conclusions. Stop talking (and listen)!
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Rule 2: Keep the ball inbounds
The conversation is the ball. There obviously needs to be a back and forth with the ball, but it is your responsibility to keep the ball inbounds. Steer the conversation towards achievable goals. Address relevant problems and the objectives your plan achieves.
Limit the conversation to the scope of the field. Avoid treading the deep waters of problems unrelated to the conversation at hand, and ideas unrelated to the topic at hand. Avoid fancy worded fluff and abstract goals that are bound to be misinterpreted.
Rule 3: Reiterate the rules of the game before each game
Always start by laying out the rules of the game as defined by the problems the client faces and needs to have solved. You need to sell based on value and solutions that only your ideas can provide. Recap the problems you believe the client faces. This not only clears the room of any potential miscommunication but also sets yard lines on the field. You now have the ‘dots’ that will be connected by the proposal you present. After a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories. Only 5% remember statistics.
Recap the problems you believe the client faces and weave your ideas into a story. These three rules will help develop a positive mindset and you will find yourself actually looking forward to something you used to dread.
During the actual pitch, it is crucial to remain cool and composed. To stay cool, I developed the idea of ISE for myself.
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What is ISE? ISE is an acronym that helps me focus on the three main components of a good sales pitch:
I for Idea Delivery
The sales pitch needs to remain simple. Too much information will create a maze and you will find yourself disoriented and unable to reach the goal of the pitch. Focus on having a few bullet points that will help navigate around the ideas you want to cover without getting lost in the details.
S for a Solution-driven approach
The sales pitch should be conceived with the client in mind. And the client’s mind is tuned into the ‘what’s in it for me’ frequency. The pitch should cover actionable items that deliver solutions for the problems the buyer faces. Anything else is a waste of time from their perspective.
E for Expectation management
Manage your client’s expectations. It is easy to fall into the trap of promising the moon. Only promise the moon if you can actually deliver the moon. Otherwise even if you deliver Mt. Everest on a gold platter, it falls short of expectation you set. Be clear about what you can deliver and what you can’t.
Following these simple rules will help you reimagine the process for what it is; an opportunity to truly connect with someone and have a genuine exchange of ideas. There will be no more sweaty palms; no racing hearts. Armed with your genuine concern for the client’s benefit and with your unique solutions to their problems, you will now look forward to seizing this amazing opportunity and creating a lasting relationship.