Too often in sales we find ourselves being shot at... "hunted" if you will. We play a defensive game rather than an offensive game. We are reactive rather than proactive and often find ourselves justifying our existence and value. As long as you allow yourself to be "controlled" this way the outcome of your calls will not be what you have hoped for. You need to be in control, manage the "game" and be "the hunter" not the hunted!
The reason this happens is most of us don't do a good job of taking control of the call in the first place (or even recognize that we've lost control!). In our "Sales Mastery" program we go to great lengths and spend a lot of time helping our clients craft what we refer to as "the initial agreement", which is a tool designed to get control of the the call right from the start. It is a well choreographed and "scripted" response to the tough "offensive" challenges your prospects will use.
Sometimes, right off the bat, their responses are challenging and put a lot pf pressure on the sales person. They ask questions like:
Why should I buy from you or your company?
What makes you better than ACME brake pads (see the movie "Tommy boy!)?
You're going to need a low price to be able to get our business!
Right away, if you answer these questions, you are reacting, on the defensive and "taking lead". What's really important here is to understand that "any answer you provide will be a problem", because it forces you into the "hunted" or defensive mode. You need to not answer but "reflect" the question to take control and become the "hunter". You need to gain the upper hand and assume an offensive position. What you need to "hunt" for is information from the prospect that will allow you to determine "are they really a good prospect that could benefit from what you have and be worth your time"?
This concept can easily consume three hours in a training session, so let me give one example of how you create an advantage for yourself. since so many of our clients are pressured on price let's take the low price issue first:
"You're going to need a low price to be able to get our business!"
First, this is a "statement" and does not require an answer (sales people have a bad habit of answering unasked questions!). Second, justifying why buying on price is a bad idea just "offends" the prospect. Or saying "we never lose on price" clearly demonstrates that you are willing to negotiate price. These responses keep you in the "hunted" role.
A better response that would put you in the "hunter" role and might provide valuable information that could help you know how or what to sell might be something like:
"It sounds like low price is important to you, can you tell me why?"
Immediately, without arguing or forcing them to assume a defensive position we have acknowledged the value of the statement but have then asked a question that starts our "hunt" for information.
Another way of "switching" to offense on a question about low price might be:
"Most of the time, when people are concerned about price they are trying to find ways to reduce their expenses or control costs. There might be some other ways that we could help you control your costs or make you more efficient, could we discuss those issues as well".
Same outcome, we switch from "hunted" to "hunter". We change the focus of the conversation from "us" to "them" and immediately put ourselves in an offensive role rather than a defensive role. Learning this skill will require thought and work but will pay dividends and help you not only be more successful but also a lot less frustrated in your selling career. It's a lot more fun to "hunt" than it is to be "hunted"!
Action Item: Make a list of all of the questions or statements that you get on sales calls that tend to make you lose control. Create strategies around those questions that help you "reflect" or "re-frame" the conversation to your advantage. Practice, practice, practice.