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DANGER SIGNALS How can you tell if an unstated concern may be getting in the way of your sale? Frank tells his reps to be aware of verbal and nonverbal cues. Frank says to listen for these ver- bal signals: • The customer starts to ramble or beat around the bush.


• The customer tries to change to an unrelated subject.


• The customer says impatiently, “I’ll give you five minutes.”


• The customer gives a soft, hesitant “no” response, indicat- ing concerns that aren’t being shared with you. Unspoken cues are also revealing. Frank recommends watching for the customer looking away, short answers, neutral responses, and customers shrugging. Any of these signals may indicate the customer is distracted by other concerns. Notice when an old customer acts completely differently from the usual. Physical surroundings may affect customers’ concentration. Hectic or disordered surroundings may cause your customers’ atten- tion to wander.


THE REAL PROBLEM


How do you encourage your custom- ers to open up and share unstated concerns without scaring them away or antagonizing them? Sometimes a direct (but caring)


question can help. Frank sometimes says, “Be honest. Is this a busy time?” or, “You gave me time to see you today. Obviously, you had some interest in our service. Could you explain why you were interested? What’s changed for you?” Murphy restates her client’s com- ments and asks, “Do I have a clear un- derstanding of what you are saying?” One of her favorite questions is, “I’m curious why you would say that.” That expression often is disarming and may lead to the prospect’s sharing previously unstated concerns. Murphy recalls, “A prospect said her company wasn’t accepting new ven-


SELLING POWER JULY/AUGUST 2021 | 9 © 2021 SELLING POWER. CALL 1-800-752-7355 FOR REPRINT PERMISSION.


dors. I responded, ‘I’m curious why you are not considering working with new vendors.’ I wasn’t criticizing – merely seeking clarification. She replied, ‘I’d be spending all my time with our hu- man resources department setting you up as a preferred vendor.’” “Once I understood her concern about too much time and paperwork, I said, ‘We don’t have to do that yet. All I want is an opportunity to fill a job order for you. Then, you will know what it’s like to work with us.’” Frank’s TV station depends on repeat customers. Sometimes, meeting away from the office and showing you really care about your client helps. Frank recalls how he and a rep addressed a customer’s unstated concern. “I assigned a new rep an automo- bile dealership that is a major cli- ent. This dealer usually changes his commercials every month and is very outgoing. Suddenly, my rep noticed a big change. The owner was seldom at work, acted preoccupied, and would say, ‘I’m sure the commercial is fine. Keep it as it is.’ “Realizing something was wrong, we invited him to lunch. At the restau- rant, we said we were worried about him. Was anything wrong? Could we help? Because of our close relation-


‘‘


It is idle to dread what you cannot avoid. PUBLILIUS SYRUS


ship, the dealer told us his mother had broken her hip and then learned she had cancer. “The dealer appreciated our sensitivi- ty and lack of pressure. This also helped us professionally. The dealer gave us complete control of all his advertising – putting us in contact with his sales manager so we could always get help.” Frank and Murphy recommend


careful listening, building a rela- tionship based on trust and mutual respect, and showing you care more about the customer than the sale. Murphy adds, “My listening between the lines and restating what custom- ers say helps them feel comfortable and relaxed with me.


“My ‘I’m curious’ statement encourages them to share their unstated concerns with me. Once I understand what is bothering them, I can work with customers to resolve these problems.” 


VIDEO: POST-PANDEMIC SALES STRATEGIES


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