Positive Point

and unsellable. Make ’em Hurt. Explore their pain. Using features-and-benefits selling, the traditional sales- person tries to solve the prospect’s problems too quickly. Traditionalists try to close the sale in the Hurt phase of the formula, and it rarely works.

Soon into the Hurt phase, you’ll hear the prospect say, “Can you help?” The traditionalist proudly exclaims, “You bet I can.” But I would say, “Don’t know. Can I ask you a few ques- tions about your problem?” Remember, people buy emotionally, so they must feel their pain before the sale can be closed successfully. If you move prospects through the selling formula too quickly, you’re going to lose the sale. 3. Make your prospect Sick with “pain.” Probe. Ask questions (consult chapter 7, “Can Asking Questions Be the Answer?”). Soon, the prospect will become emotion- ally involved in your presentation. 4. Continue probing until you arrive at the Critical stage, when prospects are willing to pay anything or do anything to solve their suffering and hurt. They now feel their problems. Critical prospects validate their own problems without interference from the salesperson. They see the need to fix the problems immediately. Their job, their business – their future – depends on eliminat- ing the pain. 5. Now, perform your Miracle. Let the prospects see that your product or service can take away the pain. CAUTION: While this formula is very effective, don’t push too far. Salespeople are not trained to pursue pain in the fashion of a psychologist. The Pain step was not developed for salespeople to play “low-budget shrink.” However, when it’s used properly, it offers the prospect more than a sales call that will merely arouse curiosity. It matches your product or service to your prospect’s pain, leading to a buying decision. But how do you pursue your prospect’s pain? Let me rephrase that: How do you guide your prospects to discover their own pain? It’s important to ask the question this way because

it’s much easier to close a sale if the prospects have discovered their own pain rather than hearing you dis- close their pain. People don’t like to admit their pain. If you pursue them and try to show them their pain, three things will happen: 1. They will become embarrassed by having to reveal their pain to you;

2. They will start to feel bad about their pain (there is a bonding and rapport rule about never making prospects or clients feel bad); and

3. They will have to admit they had previously made a faulty decision that led to their current circum- stances. That hardly puts them in a buying mood! To pursue your prospect’s pain, you use a combina-

You don’t get anywhere with inaction.

So take a chance and... Ask for the order.

tion of human-relations skills, especially active listening and asking questions.

How do you listen actively? Metaphorically, someone described it this way: “You are my friend when you walk in my moccasins.” In other words, it’s one thing to hear what a prospect says; it’s quite another to understand the pros- pect’s position – from the prospect’s point of view. Active listening demands that you understand the prospect’s situ- ation or dilemma, and that you convey this understanding to the prospect. Furthermore, it’s important not to judge the prospect.

Active listening promotes trust – an important prereq- uisite if a prospect is going to reveal pain. Here are four techniques that will help you become an active listener: 1. Tell prospects that you understand. You’ll be sur- prised how quickly people will trust you when you respond to them with “I understand.” Try it. Here are several varia- tions: “I understand what you are saying,” “That makes sense,” and “That’s not unusual.” 2. Repeat the prospect’s words. I call this “parroting.”

It’s not as effective as “I understand,” but it’s still worth- while. You’ll sound like an echo when you repeat the prospect’s words, but it’s comforting for prospects to hear a salesperson “parrot” them. “You felt the directional vec- tors were off as a result of a bug in the program?” 3. Paraphrase the prospect’s words. Listen to the

prospect; then, rephrase the prospect’s statement in your own words. It’s a good way to make sure you’re hearing correctly. And it provides a little more variety than the pre- vious two tactics. “In other words, the computer program messed up the accuracy of the vectors?” 4. Provide feedback about the prospect’s feelings. Listen for words that express the prospect’s feelings. When you hear these words, store them in your memory or take notes. Then, when appropriate, feed back the feelings. “It sounds to me like you became frustrated with the bugs in the program.” Try these techniques and you’ll discover that your pros- pects will be inclined to trust you. While listening actively, it’s also necessary to ask ques- tions to uncover a prospect’s pain. Here are some generic questions that lead to pain in a sales meeting: • How do you feel about that?


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