Persuasive sales skill: Knowing what sales rules to follow

Persuasive selling skills start with rules. Yes as a salesperson you should have some rules when it comes to dealing with potential clients. Some salespeople are walked all over by people who want to buy products either because they do not care or they do not know.

There are a few sales rules to have for persuasive selling skills:

  • · Get a budget
  • · Get some sort of buy in by asking if the person or group is interested in the product and or service
  • · Get commitments from the buyer

Without the above three there is way too much wiggle room in the sales process and for sure you will hear “I wanna think about it” or “Thanks for your time we will get back to you”. Then the sales person will use old and outdated sales techniques to try overcome the sales objections to close the sale. This is the beginning of sales failure.

Asking questions are part of the persuasive sales process
persuasive sales skills require the right questions

Now for every sales process there are different ways to get to rules fulfilled and that will also depend upon the salesperson. The problem with salespeople is when they have too many rules to follow when dealing with a potential client. More specifically sales people who are in a sales slump who won’t make sales because their rules will not allow it.

It is amazing how many sales people will not make their sales because it’s below them or the artificial rules they have built up. These rules over time are difficult for them to change and become a really bad habit until there is a change or the salesperson is asked to leave.

Many sales gurus will tell salespeople to follow strict rules about how to treat people but there is a huge difference; hopefully the guru has money in the bank, the salesperson in the slump usually doesn’t have the money needed to be able to walk away from a sale. So they are told to get tough and not take any BS no not that type BS as in belief system. This isn’t to say get walked on by the potential client but it also doesn’t mean that it is ok to become a sales jerk. Firm and in control but not a jerk.

Many times the sales rules are needed and are a huge part of the sales process but they can also get in the way of rapport. Rapport becomes important while building trust but sales people who are in a slump usually take the extreme a few steps too far. Sometimes when people get too roughed up by the rules too soon they get turned off by the sales person. For someone who does not know how to deal with this situation they will lose the sale.

  • · Sales people in a slump usually take ideas or extremes too far either direction and they end up losing sales and then do not understand why.

There is a fine line between the emotional roller coaster needed to persuade people and the direct polarization where the sale will not ever be made. Some of the influence comes from the persona and confidence of the sales person but there becomes a fine line between the confidence needed to match the salespersons persona and perceived arrogance on the part of the buyer.

There is another trap when it comes to rapport and confidence. It is entirely possible to build too much rapport. When a sales person crosses the line of persuasive sales skills and too much confidence the sale is in danger of being lost. Too much rapport makes you too much of a friend and that makes it easier to be told no. There does have to be a little bit of an edge between the potential client and the salesperson.

So you may not think that it is possible to build too much rapport? More than likely this has happened to you where you thought you had the sale and at the last second the potential client stalled on you or told you “no”. Its ok this is a common sales mistake when in sales slump or when your sales are on fire. The rule should be that your buyer should be talking about 70-80% of the time and you are listening. In a sales slump sales people typically invert that rule and talk too much and then build too much rapport.

Having sales rules in the persuasive selling process meane more sales
Sales rules can help you make more sales

Knowing the rules for your sales process is important, having a real understanding of your skills and abilities is just as important.

Persuasive selling skills timing and reaction

Persuasion sales skills come in many forms but in the end they all come down to your ability as a sales person to communicate.
Influence expert Dr. Kevin Hogan was one asked by Sales guru, trainer and expert Jeffrey Gitomer: How do you define sales? Jeffrey shared that his definition was “ask questions”. There are a few reasons for this excellent and brilliant answer or definition.
When you ask questions it does a few important things for a sales person:
  • · It uncovers the information you need to define how to help a person, group or business.
  • · Takes control of the sales appointment or sales call. He or she who asks the defining questions wins the sale as long as they can figure out control.
There are 2 important elements to asking questions in the sales process:
  1. 1. Reaction
  2. 2. Timing
Before we discuss reaction it is important to explain one thing:
The pass the salt rule – Your question and or answer is said in a tone of voice just as if you were going to ask the person next to you “Could you please pass the salt”. That is with no real emotion thought or feelings. It is just a natural statement that rolls off your tongue with no fear or expectations.
Learning how to react is an element of persuasive selling skills
Persuasive selling skill: reaction
Reaction is just what it says. It is how you react to question or the questions that either you or your potential buyer asks. Now depending upon the situation you may not need to have any type of reaction, even though you want to. Your client may give you the sales objection of “I wanna think about it” and you may want to explode inside but instead you share the phrase using the pass the salt rule and answer “That’s perfectly fine and normal”.
In some instances you need to have a reaction to what is said or asked. That reaction can be over animated when needed or totally relaxed as if it doesn’t matter depending on the situation and your sales skills. This reaction style is something that is learned over time being in the field. Most writing explanations can do this part of reaction justice because for the most part it has to be learned out in the field. Even if you role play with experienced sales people you have to find your own voice when it comes to reaction.
The reactions that you have from questions or comments must fit your personality type and persona. If you change the way that you are or have been too much in a sales call or with a potential client it will seem a little off to them and can lead to unneeded reactions. The best thing for you to do is to learn to be a chameleon where questions or statements do not bother you. Some of your reactions have to do with timing that will be discussed further below a little later.
Sometimes the potential client you are working with is looking for or expecting a reaction from you. The reaction that they can be looking for could be to get you to do a few things:
  • · Drop the price
  • · See how desperate you are as a sales person
  • · To be a difficult or to be a jerk
  • · Because they were not expecting what you showed them for an investment amount or price
  • · You upset them for some other reason (you may have been to forward, pushed for the sales too hard for them, hurt their feelings or you are more than what they were expecting)
  • · To see if you are telling the truth
  • · See how experienced you are with your product, sales or even negotiating
Understanding timing can help you learn how to increase sales
Persuasive selling skill: Timing
Timing is going to be to know when to ask a question or even when to answer a question that is asked.
If you answer the question that is asked of you too soon you may be seen as too polished or you just may be too polished and not know it. When most sales people are in sales slump trouble timing is one area that they struggle with significantly. They as a salesperson want to get the sale so they rush questions and responses so that they can get to the next sale. Timing goes out the window and fewer questions are asked.
As a general rule for salespeople many times the best thing you can is to keep your mouth shut for a few extra seconds to let the thought or question roll around in the potential clients head for just a few extra seconds. As a note if you wait too long the desired result does not happen it creates confusion or is the wrong type of uncomfortable. By giving enough time between statements or questions the extra time the potential clients has can:
  • · Think about what you asked especially if it was a powerful or thought evoking question
  • · Allows them to ask a question that they have or to get clarification
  • · Be lead to where you want them to go if you understand the persuasive selling process
  • · As a bonus it gives you time as a sales person to think and breathe while you gather what you will do next if the circumstances are unusual.
Timing is tough to learn for most people and has many of the same elements of comedy. This is one of the many reasons to study Improv acting. You can watch movies or acting and try to gain an understanding but it just isn’t the same. Learning timing for asking questions is an important element to add to your sales tool bag.
By the way it doesn’t help to just fire off questions and pause for enough time to get the questions answered. The situation has to feel real, this means that most of what you have done has to be rehearsed or practiced through role play. In many instances learning is easy and implementing is difficult. In this situation of learning how to ask better questions and learning timing this is not easy to learn or implement but your rewards for doing both with be significant enough.
Remember sales success comes from hard work and patience and is not instant. Persuasive selling abilities will require you to be patient.
As always I would like to thank you in advance for your comments and or questions.
Now go implement!
Scott Sylvan Bell
Photo credits:Tennis Ball by Ambro, Time To Go by Carlos Porto