Sandler rule #49: “Express your feelings through third-party stories.”
This Sandler sales tactic has always and will always be important for a number of reasons.
But right now, third-party stories are a fantastic way to keep people feeling safe in a time when most feel really vulnerable. It can be challenging for prospects in a “normal” environment to share information with you. Right now, people are feeling more guarded than ever. No one wants to be taken advantage of by a crappy salesperson who attempts to take advantage of fear.
So, in an effort to express your feelings on how a prospect could/should be approaching their decisions – give them some third-party stories to identify with.
You’re solving for a few things:
- They don’t feel backed against the wall when you’re asking them directly “DO YOU HAVE THIS PROBLEM?” or even worse, if you’re making the statement “You probably have xyz problem…” ouch. When suggested/told that someone has a “problem” 9/10 of us will say we don’t. How many times has Brene Brown told us people hate to be vulnerable? Admitting a “problem” or a “pain” can feel vulnerable; especially when you’re sitting in front of someone who has financial gain by solving it. Instead, try “I’ve had clients in the past tell me they faced abc frustration; does that resonate with you?”
- They don’t feel alone/like a singled-out weirdo. Humans like to feel like they’re “part of the flock.” By giving them some third-party stories to refer to, they know a.) others face similar issues and b.) have trusted you to solve them. *Note: don’t explicitly go in to how you solved those problems – guide them to that conclusion via the informed questions you are asking them.
- Guess what…this works for leadership too. Coaching your team is really just like selling a deal: you’re leading your people down a path to discover what they need to. When addressed directly on: “I think you struggle with 123 problem – here’s what you need to do”, many salespeople shut down. Internally, they’re fighting because to them you’ve expressed your opinion as fact. Externally, they’re nodding their head in agreement and not changing any of their behavior. Try instead: “In the past, I’ve known salespeople to struggle with (said issue) due to (root cause). What do you think about that?” Either, you’ll hear “yeah, that sounds like me” or “eh, not really, here’s what I think is really going on”. In both cases, you have the acknowledgment on their part of what they’re facing – and when you have that, you can come up with a plan together on how to address it. That builds in more responsibility and commitment than following orders for a plan they don’t agree with.
No one cares about your opinion as a salesperson. They do, however, care about your experience as a consultant. Our prospects expect us to be of the opinion that we are the best choice when it comes to solving their “pain.” Help them discover that they believe that as well, and leave your opinion out of it.
If you would like more helpful tips about this topic or have any underlying questions, please feel free to schedule a call with Emily Shaw below!