In my previous blog post I talked about a selling strategy that helps to eliminate lost sales. Lost due to a disconnect between the prospect and the sales person. A communication miss fire on either end is responsible for every sale not made. If the sales person is communicating and observing the prospects response, or reaction, there should be no last-minute surprises of lost business. In fact, if you were really honest about it, most of the time you knew deep down that sale was going nowhere. But the sales gods have been clear for decades that you never give up, never walk away, always be closing, and never take no for an answer. If you’re into self-deprecation that might be exactly the approach you’re looking for. But for those of us who are interested in transcending the age-old image of a product pusher to one of a true sales professional, looking for the “no” is how you should approach each sales opportunity.
For years I have taught and coached sales teams across a variety of different industries to approach a prospect as a doctor approaches a patient. Curious, thoughtful, prescriptive and honest. Here’s how:
- Curious. The first thing a doctor does when he/she enters an exam room is begins asking questions. What’s going on? When did it start? Is it like this, or like that? Do the symptoms increase in intensity during certain times or are they constant and unchanging? The doctor is beginning to diagnose your problem. Asking questions, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, is the first step to a proper diagnosis.
- Thoughtful. In my experience (and to be completely honest I believe I have the world’s greatest doctor) great doctors never provide knee jerk responses. They go through their diagnosis phase and take a moment to process the information they’ve just gathered. Sure this process step may take seconds, but in most cases pay attention the next time you go to the doctor and watch for that “medical processing pause”. This refers to the time it takes for the doctor to thoughtfully provide their assessment and prescribe next steps.
- Prescriptive. Depending on the assessment of what’s wrong with the patient the doctor may have one to many different prescriptions to offer the patient. The prescription may not be solely medicine related. A doctor may prescribe physical therapy, or eliminating a specific food from your diet. He/she may also prescribe a mobility aid such as crutches or a walker, or even a sling or splint depending on the injury. The point is that in many cases there are a variety of paths forward and the doctor presents these options in the form of prescriptions.
- Honesty. This element of the doctor-patient relationship is the most important. No matter how good the doctor is, if there is no trust that exists between him/her and the patient the above 3 ingredients are useless. By the time the doctor gets to the prescription phase of the patient examine, he/she is presenting options along with their personal choice. How many times have you heard a doctor say, “if you were my son”, or “when my mom went through this we decided to do…” The trust and honesty that exists between a doctor and patient – their ability to communicate transparently with one another – is the ingredient that results in the patient’s ability to improve their condition.
The relationship between a doctor and patient exists for one of two reasons: to fix something currently broken, or to avoid something breaking in the future. Isn’t that the relationship between you and your prospect? The prospect has either agreed to meet with you because something in their business is currently broken or because something may be changing that may cause something to break that they’re trying to avoid happening. Regardless of whether it is a current problem or future, follow the 4 steps above and you’ll find a more engaging, trusting, and action-oriented relationship develop between you and your prospect, soon-to-be customer.