I was recently give an AltMBA assignment to create tension using silence in an attempt to get the person across from you to resolve that tension. I found I was able to do this extensively in my career as a counselor and teacher. I continue to use it in interpersonal relationships. I had yet to bring it into my sales process.
What better place for it? To do sales right, my prospects and I come together and explore their needs and see if we have a solution for them. Before we offer a demo, I do what I call a needs assessment that I use to tailor the demo. They usually have a few reasons for picking up the phone and they are very cut and dry and tangible.
Here’s the re-frame. My goal for our 15-minute phone call is to:
1. Dig deeper through the stated goals to find the fear behind the goal
2. Explore their context at work as seen through the lens of power and relationships i.e. support and challenges
3. Identify the risks around change and determine which stage they are in based on the stages of change
4. Identify their why for challenging their fear and being ready to take a risk
Here are some new questions I’m thinking about throwing out there and sitting as silent as possible as long as possible.
1. What happens if you don’t meet this goal? I anticipate their first reason not being very deep and asking this again until we get to the fear or at least one question away from it. Knowing me, I’ll prompt them with, “I’m going to ask this question until we get to the point at which you get fired or the company implodes — but we’ll learn a lot along the way!”
2. Any time you implement a new system it’s a change. It requires some planning, communication and teamwork. Tell me about your team? Tell me about how change works in your organization — who helps and where do things get stuck?
3. How ready are you for this change? What kind of support could we give you to make the process go more smoothly?
4. So, we’re looking at going to all this trouble. What’s it for? What’s the big “Why” for you personally and perhaps for your team? Your boss?
If I can get them through this, I get to tell them how amazing they are. How well the see their organization and their opportunities. I can tell them that I can’t wait to show them some of our solutions. I can tell them how much I hope to work with them on implementing this ground-breaking change for their organization.
I’m pretty sure no conversation with a sales person will have gone quite like this. It feels incredibly exciting to me and I can wait to try it out!!