“Do you care about the environment?” he asked while trying to step in front of me politely while I attempted to entre Whole Foods. Damn! I made eye contact.
“Do you care about saving homeless starving dogs?” she asked, while I tried to get across the street before the light changed. Damn! I made eye contact again.
“Your shoes are awesome!” he said while I moved rapidly through the mall on the way to meet one of my clients. “Why thank you!” I responded. And left buying his eye cream that I didn’t need.
I work often with teams that have the tough job of cold calling. Cold calling on the phone. Cold calling on people on the street outside of businesses. Cold calling while walking into offices. They deal with rejection numerous times, but often that rejection is based on their own strategy. After all (and I hate to admit this), sometimes I just want to say “No, I don’t care about the environment OR starving dogs!”
Neither of those statements would be true. I care about both. But the questions tend to baffle me. Is this working somewhere other than 2am infomercials? What makes us cringe when we see the people on the corner raising money for a worthy cause or trying to get us to switch our energy provider?
You may think that the gentleman who complimented my shoes got me because he made a personal comment. Well, the answer is both yes, and no. What he really did to shock me was give a genuine compliment in a way that forced my natural response.
You may think that the other two people only provided me with a Yes or No (closed) question, or that they were too scripted. Again, the answer is both yes, and no. They backed me into a corner from which I felt that fight or flight were my only options. And they treated me like a number instead of a customer.
In my upcoming book, out this fall (I am still arguing with my editor over the title), I look at sales by what I call the BLEND principle. When you blend these 5 ingredients, you have a successful sales opportunity:
B – Be immediately and fully present
L – Listen with your ears AND your eyes
E – Ensure that you have asked all of the right questions
N – Never let your customer feel like a number
D – Deliver an exceptional experience
In a rush to make fast sales, we forget that a sale is not just an exchange of goods or services for something of value. It is an emotional exchange as well.
Each of the 5 elements above require you to slow down and truly concentrate on each customer at a time. Before you dial the phone or walk into an office, have you done your homework? Do you know who you are calling, why you are calling and what is important to them?
I know. Right now, you are reading this saying “Michael, you are crazy! I need to make 100 calls a day! I need to close 10 new sales! I need to make 5 new connections!”
But where is it written that homework has to take hours? Sometimes the mental preparedness is a 5-minute meditation before the first dial. And then being so confident in your script that you remember that the script is only worthwhile if someone allows you to talk to them. And if you listen.
Being immediately and fully present requires you to look and/or listen to the person you want as a customer. Are they open? Are they guarded? Do they care about your product, service or mission? You can tell if you really look.
Listening with your eyes AND ears means that you are not just focused on delivering your message in a rush. You care whether or not the message resonates. If it doesn’t, and you try to force it, you just broaden the chasm.
You can’t ensure that you’ve asked all the right questions if you don’t ask any questions. And be prepared for push-back, disbelief or disagreement. Their thoughts and opinions matter on your way to a sale.
No one wants to be the “next in line” person. Even if you are on dial 97 of 100, it is more important for you to make that sound like your first call than to hit 100. And if you ask me the same question on the street in the same way you have asked the other 200 people who went by, I will know it. And feel it. And keep walking.
Finally, regardless of the outcome, provide an exceptional experience that transcends product and company. Reach me as a human and I will remember you, your product and company forever.
Ignore the first 4 concepts and I will also remember you, your product and company forever.
“Ma'am, if you are interested in a healthier energy company, I’d love to share some information with you.”
“Sir, if you are passionate about animals, I can make your day.”
Michael Sherlock is a business writer, author, speaker and podcast host. As a Vice President of US Sales for two multi-national medical device companies, Michael has managed net revenue exceeding $50 million and managed as many as 500 employees at a time.
In 2016, Michael published her first book, Tell Me More, to promote her highly effective approach to employee empowerment, building team skills and confidence, accelerating productivity, and rapidly growing top-line revenue at any company. Her second book is due Fall 2018.
Mrs. Sherlock provides corporations and business leaders with engaging presentations and actionable strategies on leadership, employee development, customer experience, and sales transformation. In addition, Michael hosts the Shock Your Potential podcast where she highlights the best in leadership, sales and customer experiences. The Shock Your Potential Podcast is available via iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and your favorite podcast apps, as well as online.