The male red-breasted robin has a highly predictable reaction when another male red-breasted robin enters his territory: He attacks. Interestingly, what puts the first bird into full attack mode isn't the other bird itself -- it's the mere sight of red feathers. A single red feather in a pile of non-red feathers will set off this attack response.
In much the same way, prospective customers have a highly predictable reaction when they identify salespeople using old-school sales tactics: Their defensive walls go up and they become skeptical and distant. What actually puts the prospect into defensive mode isn’t the salesperson himself, it's the sight of old-school sales tactics.
These ineffective, outdated sales techniques are the red feathers that keep potential customers at-bay.
After over 100 years of the old-school selling method, which consists of enthusiastic and persuasive sales pitching with high-pressure closes, prospects today are weary of the typical salesperson. As a result, it is more important than ever before for salespeople to stand out from their competition. By being completely distinct from competitors, the modern-day sales all-star can bypass a prospect's predictable defense pattern and close the deal.
Here are nine ways to effectively stand out from the sales competition in order to break through your prospect’s defenses:
1. Interrupt the pattern: If most salespeople are doing the same thing (which they are), then you want to do the exact opposite. By doing the opposite of what a prospect expects the typical salesperson to do, you break the prospect’s defense pattern and can engage in a more productive sales conversation.
2. Drop the enthusiasm: Old-school salespeople are over-the-top enthusiastic and not genuine. In order to be totally distinct, drop the fake enthusiasm. Instead, be genuinely interested in prospects’ worlds. Remember that you are most interesting to someone by being interested in them.
3. Stop pitching: Customers are weary of canned pitches. The smooth sales pitch has been around for literally more than 100 years: National Cash Register (N.C.R.) famously perfected it in the late 1800s. Still, these ineffective sales pitches are the go-to approach for most salespeople. Doing the same will make you seem sleazy.
4. No more persuasion: Persuasion tactics are not only predictable, they inherently assume every prospect is a good fit for what you sell. This is not the case! In fact, at least 50 percent of the prospects you meet are not going to be a good fit for you, for a number of reasons. Rather than assume that you should persuade prospects, ask questions to determine whether there is a match between their challenges and your solutions.
5. Focus on prospects: Most salespeople spend most of their time in selling situations talking about themselves and their organizations. This is a "me"-focused approach to selling and it turns potential customers off. Instead, focus on the prospect’s world in an effort to understand what is really going on with them and their businesses. Be prospect-focused.
6. Understand prospects' challenges: You do not sell a product or service. You sell a solution to your prospects' challenges. By asking about these challenges, you earn trust and gain a clear understanding of whether the solution you have to offer is the right fit.
7. No more pressure: Nothing turns people off more than high-pressure closing techniques. For more than 100 years, salespeople have been preemptively sliding contracts across the table and eagerly asking, “So, are you ready to move forward?” Your prospects will only sidestep this tactic.
8. Have a doctor's mindset: Stop thinking like a salesperson. Instead, think like a doctor. When a patient walks into a doctor’s office with a problem, does the doctor state her solution at the beginning of the visit? No way. Instead, the doctor spends time examining the problem, asking questions and then, only when she’s confident she has the right answers, does she offer a solution. Apply this same approach to your selling.
9. Commit to being distinct: Being truly distinct is difficult. It pushes us out of our comfort zones. Remember how hard it was to feel different in middle school? Well, sadly, it doesn’t get much easier. But those salespeople who can effectively separate themselves from the masses of other salespeople will reap massive rewards.
Now, it’s time to take action and stand out from your sales competition. In doing so, you will keep more customers engaged and close many more deals.