Communication

Myths About Persuasion

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We like to boil sales down to getting other people to change behavior. This “change” requires salespeople who are persuasive.

The Selling Power archives contain a quick-read article about persuasion. The focus is debunking myths that permeate sales cultures regarding how to be persuasive. There are 6 myths they note, but this one is preeminent:

2. If you give customers enough facts, you’ll get their business.

Wrong. People do not base their buying decisions on facts. Research shows that the first step in a decision process is emotional engagement. Without an emotional response at the outset, persuasion does not occur.

Absolutely true. People make decisions emotionally and justify them (later) intellectually. If you do not understand this fact, you will sell on features and benefits. This will work if you are selling to Mr. Spock, it will not work on humans. Successful salespeople know their Differentiating Value and they know their Critical Qualifying Questions. Those two items, when connected to an emotional response, guide the salesperson to qualify the prospect.

That ability leads into the author’s third point:

3. Some folks are natural salespeople.

No. Charisma and personality are helpful, but they do not guarantee success, particularly in complex or technical sales. Effective salespeople have certain habits and behavior in common – and that includes the so-called naturals, even if they’re not consciously aware of the habits and behavior.

Many truths to unpack in that paragraph. First, many people confuse charisma for competence when it comes to selling. This conventional wisdom couldn’t be more wrong. Sales are won by the salesperson who asks the right questions and listens closely. This leads to the second point that certain behaviors are key to success in sales. Stephen Covey used to say, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Understanding is key - the strongest salespeople are attentive to the prospect’s words which is conveyed by the salesperson’s body language, focus and responses.

All six of the points from the article are key. Persuasion is a process and the backbone of all successful selling.

DISC Styles Defined - Compliance

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Today we conclude our DISC series with the final style - Compliance. Here is more on the High C.

Compliance
This factor describes people that follow the rules, or comply.  C's are precise and exact in that they enjoy complex tasks and absolute answers.  C's are the least common style in the general population.  Their drive to comply leads them to be perfectionists, at times, and the "traffic cops" for any team.  They prefer to have an orderly life free of mistakes and errors.  The precise nature of the High C's work product often leads them into roles like finance, quality control and law enforcement.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Very slow buyers; proven products.
Change:  Concerned of the effects of change.
Conflict response:  Avoidance.
Drive:  Careful, follow rules. Best drivers.
Decorate an office:  Graphs, charts, functional.
Gesture:  Very reserved, little or no gestures.
Goal Setting:  Good at setting safe goals, probably in many areas. Goals are safe with little risk.
Organization:  Everything in its place. Perfectly organized.
Read:  Nonfiction, technical journals.
Risk Factor:  Very low.
Rules:  "By the book." Knows and follows rules.
Stand:  Arms folded, one hand on chin.
Stress Relief:  Alone time.
Talk on the Phone:  Little chitchat. To the point. May be short or long depending on data needed.
Talk to others:  Direct. Questioning, clarifying.
Walk:  Straight line.
Writing:  Direct, to the point, with appropriate data.
Color noticed first:  Yellow.
 

Communicating with the High C

  • Prepare your case in advance.  Don't be disorganized or messy.
  • Approach them in a straightforward, direct way.  Don't be casual, informal or personal.
  • Use a thoughtful approach. Build credibility by looking at all sides of each issue.  Don't force a quick decision.
  • Present specifics, and do what you say you can do.  Don't be vague about expectations or fail to follow through.
  • Allow them their space.  Don't touch them.
     

Managing the High C

  • Involve them in defining standards that are undefined.
  • Clearly define requirements of the job and expectations.
  • Set goals that have "reach" in them.
  • Involve them in long-term planning.
  • Train them in people skills and negotiating.
     

Potential Limitations of the High C

  • Hesitant to act without precedent.
  • Overanalyze; Analysis Paralysis.
  • Be too critical of others.
  • Get bogged down in details.
  • Be too hard on themselves.

The High C is an uncommon style that can thrive in a highly technical, detailed sale.  The C enjoys the data-driven processes of most positions - they tend to love Excel.  You can expect the High C to know the rules and eagerly apply them to people who are breaking the rules.  They are task-oriented and can struggle, at times, with personal interactions within a team setting.  Their precision provides them with a breadth of knowledge about the solution they are selling.  Expect them to be accurate to a fault and driven to close the perfect sale.

Source: Target Training International

DISC Styles Defined - Steadiness

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Today we continue with our DISC series and the third style - Steadiness. Here is more on the High S.

Steadiness
This factor describes people that crave consistency, repetition and few surprises.  S's are drawn to routine and predictability which gives them the innate ability to excel at consistency.  High S's are loyal workers who bring a peacemaking ability to any team.  Their desire to find closure drives them to finish what they started.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Slow decision maker; traditional products.
Change:  Does not like change. Needs much preparation.
Conflict response:  Tolerate, put up with it.
Drive:  Relaxed pace, no hurry.
Decorate an office:  Family snapshots, "homey" atmosphere.
Gesture:  Will gesture with hands, not large sweeping gestures.
Goal Setting:  Goals are short-term, low risk. May use daily to-do lists.
Organization:  Usually some type of system. A little on the sloppy side.
Read:  People stories, fiction and nonfiction.
Risk Factor:  Moderately low risk-taker.
Rules:  Will usually follow time-tested, proven rules.
Stand:  Leaning back, hand in pocket.
Stress Relief:  Rest time/sleep. Hot baths.
Talk on the Phone:  Warm conversationalist, friendly and concerned.
Talk to others:  Warm, not pushy. Will listen before talking.
Walk:  Steady, easy pace.
Writing:  Long form giving lots of information.
Color noticed first:  Blue.
 

Communicating with the High S

  • Start with personal comments. Break the ice.  Don't rush headlong into business or agenda.
  • Show sincere interest in them as people.  Don't stick coldly or harshly to business.
  • Patiently draw out their personal goals and ideas. Listen and be responsive.  Don't force a quick response to your objectives.
  • Move casually, informally.  Don't be abrupt and rapid.
  • Provide personal assurances and guarantees.  Don't promise something you can't deliver.
     

Managing the High S

  • Clearly explain upcoming changes in order to prepare them.
  • Make an effort to get to know them and their needs.
  • Assign them fewer, larger projects.
  • Encourage their contribution in meetings.
  • Work to stretch them carefully to new heights.
     

Potential Limitations of the High S

  • Take criticism of work as personal affront.
  • Resist change just for change sake.
  • Need help getting started on new assignment.
  • Have difficulty establishing priorities.
  • Not project a sense of urgency.

The High S is a strong selling style for extended, relationship sales.  The S has a natural ability to hang in there even during long periods of time.  They are people-oriented like the High I, but they are quieter in dealing with others.  High S's are introverted and enjoy predictable days and established routines.  Leading the High S requires a boss who can see the strengths they bring to the team, and the realization that there are times when you will have to put the spurs to them.

Source: Target Training International

DISC Styles Defined - Influence

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Today we continue with our DISC series and the second style - Influencing. Here is more on the High I.

Influencing
This factor describes people that prefer to influence others with their words.  High I's enjoy the opportunity to talk to new people, experience new things...anything new.  I's tend to trust other people implicitly and have a naturally optimistic approach to most things.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Quick decision makers; showy  products; impulse buyer.
Change:  May not notice change.
Conflict response:  Flight, run.
Drive:  Visual, looking around, radio on.
Decorate an office:  Contemporary, memorabilia of experiences.
Gesture:  A lot of big gestures and facial expressions when talking.
Goal Setting:  Not good at setting goals. Intention is present, planning is not.
Organization:  Disorganized. A lot of piles.
Read:  Fiction, self-improvement books.
Risk Factor:  Moderate risk-taker.
Rules:  May not be aware of rules and break them unintentionally.
Stand:  Feet spread. Two hands in pockets.
Stress Relief:  Interaction with people.
Talk on the Phone:  Long conversations. A great deal of tone variation in voice.
Talk to others:  Verbal, at length. Personal with others.
Walk:  Weave, people focus, may run into things.
Writing:  More wordy, warm people focus.
Color noticed first:  Red.
 

Communicating with the High I

  • Plan interaction that supports their dreams and intentions.  Don't legislate or muffle.
  • Allow time for relating and socializing.  Don't curt, cold or tight-lipped.
  • Talk about people and their goals.  Don't drive to facts, figures and alternatives.
  • Focus on people and action items. Put details in writing.  Don't leave decisions up in the air.
  • Ask for their opinion.  Don't be impersonal or task-oriented.
     

Managing the High I

  • Assist in setting realistic goals.
  • Work with on-time management.
  • Develop a friendship and make time for interaction daily.
  • Open door policy for High I to discuss any issues.
  • Look for opportunities for them to utilize their verbal skills.
     

Potential Limitations of the High I

  • Oversell.
  • Act impulsively, heart over mind.
  • Trust people indiscriminately.
  • Be inattentive to detail.
  • Tend to listen only situationally.

The High I is a somewhat common style in sales.  This style is the most appreciative of people interactions so sales is a natural draw.  They are chatty, personal, outgoing and always eager for a new experience.  The High I does require a patient leader as the High I will be in your office frequently to discuss their most recent discovery/success/question.  Be patient and know that the High I will cover a lot of ground and talk to more people than any other style.

Source: Target Training International

DISC Styles Defined - Dominance

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There are four primary DISC styles - D, I, S, C.  We're going to start a series on each style to help you better understand people through their preferred communication channel.  We begin with the High D.

Dominance
This factor describes people that tend to favor a direct, assertive communication style and tend to focus on problems and challenges.  High Ds love to stick to business, get to the point and not waste time.  Ds tend not to immerse themselves in minutiae or specific details.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Quick decision makers; new and unique products.
Change:  Love change.
Conflict response:  Fight back.
Drive:  Fast, always somewhere to get to in a hurry.
Decorate an office:  Status conscious, large desk, efficiency.
Gesture:  A lot of hand movement when talking, big gestures.
Goal Setting:  Sets many goals, usually high risk and not written down.
Organization:  Efficient, not neat.
Read:  Cliffs notes, executive book summaries.
Risk Factor:  High risk-taker.
Rules:  May tend to break the rules. The end justifies the means.
Stand:  Forward leaning. Hand in pocket.
Stress Relief:  Physical activity, preferably of a competitive nature.
Talk on the Phone:  Little chitchat. To the point. Results.
Talk to others:  Direct. While others are talking may do other activities, as well as interrupt or jump to their next response.
Walk:  Fast, always going somewhere.
Writing:  Direct, to the point. Results-oriented.
Color noticed first:  Green.
 

Communicating with the High D

  • Be clear, specific and to the point.
    Don't ramble on, or waste their time.
  • Stick to business.  Don't try to build personal relationships, or chitchat.
  • Present the facts logically; plan your presentation efficiently.  Don't leave loopholes or cloudy issues if you don't want to be zapped.
  • Ask specific (preferably "What?" questions).  Don't ask rhetorical questions, or useless ones.
  • Provide a win/win opportunity.  Don't force the High D into a losing situation.
     

Managing the High D

  • Clearly explain results expected.
  • Negotiate commitments one-on-one.
  • Define rules.
  • Confront face-to-face in all disagreements.
  • Provide challenging assignments.
     

Potential Limitations of the High D

  • Overstep authority.
  • Be too directive.
  • Be impatient with others.
  • Be argumentative.
  • Push people rather than lead them.

Overall, the High D style is the easiest to observe and maybe the most difficult to manage.  They beauty of the High D is that they will often achieve victories that you may have thought too difficult to pursue...or win.  The D will provide drive and competitiveness to any team, just be prepared to lead them in a unique way.

Source: Target Training International

The Asynchronous Sales World

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Sales is morphing into an asynchronous world.  Communication is based more on written words shared via email or text.  Training is migrating to an on-demand model that is available at the moment of need.  Face-to-face conversations are becoming less frequent.  Everything has changed.

How are you handling it?  Are you providing your team with the right tools to compete in this changing market?  As the Chief Revenue Officer, the responsibility to stay ahead of the curve is mission critical for success.

Saleshacker provides some definitive tools for your consideration.  Just to point out a few:

Outreach

Get your email campaigns in order. Outreach helps you track, pace, analyze and automate your email and voice messages to your customers. By integrating Outreach into your CRM, you’ll never have to manually log your messaging activities and outcomes, freeing more time for you to book more meetings, close deals and make better-informed decisions.

6sense

Accelerate your account management process with market-leading analytics. 6sense  adds a data-driven layer to your sales cycle, unlocking and prioritizing new prospects across your pipeline. Use 6sense’ predictive intelligence to accurately forecast your customers’ purchasing behavior in a specific context.

ClearSlide

ClearSlide is a full-stack sales engagement service covering content management, analytics and smart messaging. Use ClearSlide to ramp up the quality and impact of your emails, conferences, presentations and other engagements. Persuade your customers and prospects with the most compelling content. Motivate and train your team with the most effective and inspirational learning modules.

Of course there are many more found in their comprehensive list.  As a CRO, you owe it to yourself to check out the list and see what tools could help your team be more effective in this asynchronous sales world.

What is Your Leadership Style?

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

We help CRO's and other leaders understand their leadership style.  This knowledge helps optimize communication with their team, develop their emotional intelligence and leverage their natural strengths.

Harvard Business Review provides a short look at some general leadership styles.  You can take a quick quiz on this page to determine your style.  The selections are these:

COLLABORATOR: empathetic, team-building, talent-spotting, coaching oriented
ENERGIZER: charismatic, inspiring, connects emotionally, provides meaning
PILOT: strategic, visionary, adroit at managing complexity, open to input, team oriented
PROVIDER: action oriented, confident in own path or methodology, loyal to colleagues, driven to provide for others
HARMONIZER: reliable, quality-driven, execution-focused, creates positive and stable environments, inspires loyalty
FORECASTER: learning oriented, deeply knowledgeable, visionary, cautious in decision making
PRODUCER: task focused, results oriented, linear thinker, loyal to tradition
COMPOSER: independent, creative, problem solving, decisive, self-reliant

An important pull quote from the test:

But far more often we find that success depends on the hows — specifically, how leaders’ styles mesh with their teams and organizational cultures.

Very true. 

Best Time to Cold Call

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Does anyone still cold call?

They do…though it is not a high ROI activity.  That being said, there are some tips that can provide a slight advantage to this activity.

The Harvard Business Review (sorry, no link) posted some usable data from the insidesales.com team.  The important summary:

Best Days to Make Contact:
1. Thursday
2. Wednesday

Surprisingly, Friday is the 3rd best day.  However, Thursday and Wednesday are by far the best days.

Best Times to Make Contact:
1. 3:30pm to 5:30pm
2. 7:30am to 8:30am

How about that?  I grew up in the “old school” days of calling during 9:00am to 3:00pm.  That explains my ineffectiveness…if only I had known this information then!  (That is a fine example of the longstanding sales technique called “excuse making”).

The disclaimer here is that these are suggestions based on averaging 3 years of call data.  Of course there are variations based on whom you are attempting to reach, time of year, etc.  Yet, I like to say that sometimes sales simply comes down to slight advantage.

Why Would a Sales Person Ever Say No?

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Successful sales leaders and sales people are the ones who are skilled at moving through the prospect stages of KNOW – LIKE – TRUST.

Let’s begin with the underlying belief that it is always best to tell the truth. In any situation whether personal or professional - never tell a lie. Not only is this good for your stress level, heart, blood pressure, etc. but also because, in the words of Mark Twain, “if you tell the truth you never have to remember anything”.

For sales leaders and sales people, when in the sales process there are many situations that arise where it seems that the flat-out truth is the obvious response and it seems also obvious that telling the truth is very detrimental to winning the sale. In such situations, it is very tempting to avoid giving a direct answer like ‘no, we cannot do that’ and instead respond in a manner that stretches the truth so that the sales process stays alive and you can still hope to close the sale. Tempting as this might be, it is not a long-term success formula. One should never tell a lie. “A single lie discovered is enough to create contagious doubt over every other truth expressed” – author unknown. When you are found to have stretched the truth (or worse) your credibility takes a negative turn that is hard, if not impossible to recover from.

Ideally, you will always have the best product with perfect capabilities and be the clear leader in the prospects consideration. For many that is not the case and so sales training, skills and ability to ‘think on your feet’ become critical to the sales process and ultimately winning the sale. When you know your product capabilities, understand the competition and their strengths and weaknesses, have done your research on the prospect and the prospects business/industry, then you are in a strong position that minimizes the temptation to stretch the truth or even to have to say "no."

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Although one should never say never, I believe strongly that in the sales process a sales leader/sales person should never say "no."  Why? Here are the primary reasons you will find yourself in a position to respond ‘no’ to a prospect, even though you have worked hard to identify a good prospect and qualify the opportunity:

Competition is doing their job! If the competition is any good, they will know your weaknesses versus their own strengths and weaknesses. The competition will work to put themselves in good standing and create ‘Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt’, or FUD, about you and your product/solution.

Prospect has partial or inaccurate information! Information received from well-meaning friends & family, peers & workers, or internet research often results in a biased view of your product/solution.

Prospect is focused on a symptom not the real issue! The humorous saying ‘When you are up to your *** in alligators, it is difficult to remember that your objective is to drain the swamp!’ applies here. Often the challenges of the day and resulting pain points drive a prospect to want to just fix the immediate pain.

Prospect is positioning for a concession! While not as common as the first three mentioned, there are times when the prospect wants your product/solution and this is a way of negotiating for a better price.

Encourage the prospect to talk about why they want to make a change and not just focus on a specific item that may not be in your favor. Rather than stretch the truth or say ‘no, we can’t do that’ or similar phrasing, it is best to bring the prospect back to the positive by reframing the opportunity in the context of the strengths you and your product/solution have for the prospect. Offer an answer on why the prospect benefits more from you and your product/solution than from any other option. Remaining positive throughout the sales process greatly enhances your credibility with the prospect and thereby enhances your chances of closing the sale.

CRO RoundTable is focused on revenue growth and the strategy, leadership and execution necessary to improve skills such as this.