Less Audience Receptivity
Have you noticed how much more difficult it is to gain an audience with potential buyers and then, when you do, how much less receptive they are to your messages? You are not alone. The gatekeepers, decision-makers, and buyers who are open to meeting with sales reps and discussing new ideas, even in existing relationships, are declining rapidly. You need a strategy to better influence customers — both internal and external.
Business sales training research points to two main causes: (1) people are overwhelmed with information, and (2) they are isolated. Thanks to the internet and the availability of information, customers no longer appreciate the role of a solution selling sales rep — they believe that they can do their own research and find their own answers.
How to Meet the Challenge
Simply selling harder will actually push customers away. Nor should we just move on. Sales teams need to work on how to better influence customers with a different solution selling strategy. Sellers need to shift focus from selling to creating receptivity so they can better influence customers.
How? By applying the 3 Ps.
In a sales conversation, the customer typically believes that the salesperson treats themselves as the number one priority because there is a commission attached to everything they recommend. It is up to salespeople to prove otherwise by constantly monitoring their motives and deciding to make the customer, and their success, the priority.
The customer should be the hero of the story. And then, sellers must demonstrate and communicate to their customer or prospect that they, and their buying process, are the priority.
As sales reps, it is easy to skip this step when we are so focused on what we need to say and what we need to ask. We get caught up in our own agenda and our own sales process. But when the customer becomes the central character, engaging them authentically becomes much easier.
We need to consciously decide, before every interaction, to place priority on the customer. Think about what is going on in their day and what matters most to them and their agenda.
You will know you are on the right path when you can articulate how you will help them to succeed and how you can best serve them and meet THEIR needs.
When people feel pressure, they will resist it. It is a natural reflex. They may resist pressure by avoiding certain subjects, by arguing with you, or by avoiding you altogether. It is the Tug of War Principle: People resist any pressure to think or act differently if they feel as though their freedom to choose is not respected.
In a sales conversation, we know that customers typically expect the salesperson to pressure them in order to close the deal and get a commission. This creates tension in the relationship. Your job, as a sales rep, is to eliminate that tension or pressure and to be seen as a trusted business advisor.
One way to do this is by communicating (and demonstrating) to your customer that you acknowledge and respect their freedom to choose – their freedom to choose to engage with you, meet with you, listen to you, and buy from you. In fact, recent research on down selling has shown to increase client relationships.
Think about a game of tug-of-war. When one person pulls on the rope, the person on the other side will automatically pull back. To eliminate that pressure and tension, drop the rope. Sellers can drop the rope in a number of ways, for example using language and words like “may,” “might,” “could,” “possibly” or “consider.” This all increases customer receptivity.
You will know you are on the right path when your customer does not feel pressure to decide and can articulate reasonable options.
- Point of View
If you can articulate that you understand your prospect’s point of view (as well or better than they can), you will cultivate receptivity. You will get more meetings, you will get them to embrace your point of view, and you will strengthen the relationship. Validate their perspective and show them that you understand their view by articulating it back to them. Until you do, they will not be receptive to your perspective or your recommendation.
If you cannot see (and think) from your customer’s perspective, you have not spent the requisite time to bridge the gap from their point of view to your recommendation. Craft messages that lead with what the decision maker cares about. You will see receptivity skyrocket.
You will know you are on the right path when your customer feels like you can clearly articulate their situation, complications, goals, problems, and needs.
The Bottom Line
When you encounter emotionally closed customers, you need to create receptivity so your message will be heard and understood. Are you making your customer the Priority, removing Pressure, and validating their Point of view?
To learn more about how to better influence customers and help them to succeed, download The Top 30 Sales Questions that Matter Most