I have recently received an email that allows me to demonstrate an easy way of developing the most difficult part of any persuasion process…taking control of the conversation.
First here is the email I received (edited to preserve anonymity)From: Tim Sent: Tuesday 15:46
Loved the Persuasion Skills Black Book I feel like it helps me in everyday life and even teaching some (apologies if that doesn’t help sales)
So here’s the dilemma
I work for Large Retail Company and they have a Credit Card that they offer customers. It has various benefits such as exclusive sales. 10% off on your first purchase if you sign up in store etc. The problem that arises is that people don’t like the idea of credit cards or they have too many.
I am a very confident individual and once the ball is rolling, I can continue to converse and persuade, my main problem is OPENING. I tend to come off like it’s a joke or trying to oversell (from what I can hear of myself)
What advice on techniques and wording would you give to make people feel they need, want, or should have it whether
Would appreciate the help on this
Opening Prospects up to the Opportunity
I hate sales calls where the caller asks how you are and makes it obvious that they don’t care about your answer. I hate these so much I have started using a particular pattern. When asked, “How are you doing?” I tend to say something like, “Not too good because…” here are some of my favourites;
…my girlfriend just caught me in bed with her brother
…my teenage daughter has just come out as gay but she is in a Catholic School
…my brother was diagnosed with cancer with six months to live and now two years later it has gone into remission but he has spent all of his savings
…my wife has just been arrested for suspected terrorist activity
…I’ve just been told I have advance stages of testicular cancer and that castration only gives me a 40% chance of survival
I take control of the conversation and start asking their opinions on the situation and get them involved in problem solving the situation. Occasionally I get a really good conversation out of it as they get distracted from the call, but mostly people can’t get away quick enough as I plunge them into difficult conversations.
In my latest conversation a guy was desperately trying to sell me a checking and compensating legal service for mis-sold insurance products. But he was only doing this after having given me a stern talking to about how teenagers go through phases and if I were a good parent I would control and correct the unnatural urges that my daughter was exhibiting.
I suspect your sales job would get infinitely harder after you have mismatached your prospects personal values, called them a bad parent and demanded that they save their daughter from a lifetime of sin a debauchery. Sadly after quite a game effort the sales agent spectacularly failed to sell his service. I am just hoping that his called are recorded for quality and training purposes.
By the way, here is where I got the idea of taking control of telemarketing conversations:
If you are going to ask people how they are make sure you are interested in listening to the answer. Assuming most of the time you are not going to get completely bizarre answers you can use conversation management techniques as outlined in the Persuasion Skills Black Book to steer the conversation round to the material you want to talk about whilst still making the person feel good about the conversation. But I think I have a better approach.
Staying on Topic
When people phone me they are intruding in to my life. The total stranger at the other end of the line doesn’t know me, probably isn’t interested in me and is only phoning to sell me something. I look favourably on the ones that don’t waste my time and are open about their agenda. My best intro would go something like:
“Hi I am … phoning from … are you Mr Basu?..Good I am phoning about product xyz, I believe it could give you (list major benefits) let’s spend a few minutes discussing how you can take advantage of these. What important to you about (context of the product or service)?”
This is probably a bit strong and directed. You might have to slow down and soften this a little depending on your style. But the thing I want you to recognise is that it sets a frame, gives the prospect a reason for listening and then involves the prospect by asking a relevant question.
In a retail environment people that are browsing are usually faced with a sales assistant asking, “Can I help you?” or the slightly better, “How can I help you?” The reality though is neither of these pays any recognition of where the prospect is or what they are doing.
What do you think would happen if a sales assistant noticed what the prospect was looking at and opened the conversation with their opinion of the product they were looking at and then switched it to a question asking the prospect their opinion? Let’s say the prospect is looking at large screen HD Televisions. The sales assistant could start with something like, “ I am looking to buy a (make, model). There are cheaper models but I really like this one because it has…list big benefits and I can’t wait to watch…insert favourite show. What is important to you about your TV?”
Eliciting and Using Values
Using this approach you are keeping the subject relevant, taking control of the conversation, building rapport as an authority and you are eliciting the prospect’s values about the subject. Whatever answer the prospect gives you to the, What’s important to you about (x)?” question is what you will feedback to them when you present the benefits of the product that you want to sell them.
If we go back to the TV example and the sales assistant asks the values question and gets the response; “I like new technology.” And asking the question again about new technology elicits the response, “I feel like I am right on the edge getting the most I can from what’s available.”
If I were that sales assistant I would be directing the prospect towards the latest 4K TV sets saying something like, “ Let me show you the new range of 4K TVs. These are the latest of new technology TVs and are right on the edge of what is currently available on the market.”
My key point is that generally in a persuasion context we tend to get so hung up on our objective that we lose sight of the other person in the conversation. Often by being interested in the prospect they will give you the answers to persuade them. All you need do is be able to manage the conversation and ask the right questions.
…and if you are interested in finding ways of controlling the conversation, eliciting your prospect’s values and attaching them to your products and services you will find a whole raft of ideas in the Hypnotic Sales Process. You can click through and find out more here: