I Buy From You?
by Liz Bowermaster, Director of Training
Hey, we know you know your products and exactly how they work. We know you can talk about the importance of a balanced portfolio that’s managed in-line with risk tolerance, historical return on investment, the vital importance of non-emotional decision-making, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…. But wait! Could you be more successful if you’d couple your technical expertise with a solid understanding of how people make buying decisions? Yes, I’m talking about the psychology of buying. Tapping into and working with the rich emotional content of the buying process can make all the difference.
As buyers, first we use a linier or left-brain process and data to screen. Our left brain is logical, rational and deals with information in a linier way. In our business, it’s so easy for a buyer to screen us before they ever meet us. Think about it—our websites, introductions and referrals from our satisfied customers, billboards, newspaper, television, radio, twitter, Linked-In, blah, blah, blah. Isn’t it safe to say “our reputation precedes us?” That can be very helpful. But, buying decisions are emotionally-based. They are made with our “right” brain; that part of our brain that deals with emotions and feelings, concepts and ideas. We want to “feel good about our decisions.” We want to “sleep well at night.” You might say, we make our decisions with our heart and then rationalize them with our brain.
So how do we help our prospects have the best possible experience with us to ensure that their heart says, “I need to do this with this guy or gal”? If you can create an experience for the buyer that showcases that you have their best interest at heart, you’re half way there. You need to be your prospect’s advocate and he/she needs to recognize you as their advocate. The most direct route in doing this is to make your first order of business learning about the prospect, his/her needs and interests- not pushing your products or services.
Who is your prospect? What’s important to him/her? What are their dreams and challenges? Understand that while they are answering your questions- and you are busy listening intently- your prospect is carrying on an inner-dialogue.
If we could read the prospect’s mind or hear their inner-dialogue we’d hear that while they are sharing their story they are asking themselves these three questions:
- Can I trust this person?
- Do they care about me?
- Can they solve my problem?
A prospect-focused, discovery process is a trust-building process. Our actions demonstrate that our interest is in learning about the prospect and his/her needs- not a “let me give you a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation on how great our organization is and how qualified I am to help because I have a long list of credentials” approach.
Our desire to learn all we can about the prospect and his/her needs demonstrates caring. And, by the way, how can we hope to solve the prospect’s problems without fully understanding from the prospect’s point-of-view what those problems are? Your skill in asking the questions that get the prospect to open up and share vital information coupled with your attentive listening are significant “trust-building” behaviors. People buy from people they trust. Unless you can build trust, your prospect will never answer “Yes” to each of the above listed questions. Without a “Yes” to all three questions, you don’t have a hope of getting a next appointment or a deal.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the three questions listed above are only part of the prospect’s inner-dialogue in a first meeting. These questions are present in every interaction and long-after. Every interaction is an opportunity to interact in ways that give the prospect/client the opportunity to answer “Yes” to each question.
In addition to the trust that develops as the result of a skillfully conducted discovery discussion, there’s an additional benefit in terms of the feelings that the prospect develops about the person asking the questions and listening. Recent MRI, brain studies conducted at Harvard University showed that when people talk about themselves there is increased brainwave activity in the hypothalamus, sometimes called the “pleasure center.” Ok, let’s get less scientific. Self-disclosure “lights up” the brain in the same way as when we have sex, or get pleasure from eating—think chocolate! There’s added value in asking the prospect/client to tell you about their lives. It creates a strong positive reaction and they associate these feeling with the person asking the questions.
Encourage your prospects to “tell you more and more and more.” Learn about what’s troubling them and what they want to achieve. Don’t rush discovery. Every minute you spend learning about the prospect pays great dividends.
Once you’ve gained a complete picture of the prospect’s goals and needs, you can demonstrate your ability to solve their problems by presenting your solutions—solutions that provide the answers they are looking for. This gets you the final “Yes” that you need.
Successful selling is not about being a smooth talker or a skillful presenter of mountains of detailed analytics on performance. It’s about developing a trust relationship and filling needs.
by Gregg Lederman, CEO of Brand Integrity, Inc.
Good managers create an environment for staff to be engaged.
Just this week I spoke to a group of the top 100 supervisors, managers and executives of a manufacturing and distribution company. I asked, “How many of you are good at recognizing employees and showing genuine appreciation when they do a good job … and you do it often enough?”
I scanned the audience. One hand went up—literally, only one of 100.
As human beings, we love recognition. Whether we want to admit it, recognition plays a huge role in our happiness and well-being, at work and in our personal relationships. Giving and receiving recognition encourages contentment and productivity. Yet as supervisors, managers and leaders, we are horrible at recognition at work, both giving it and receiving it.
It’s not like that with everything. Think about how natural it is to recognize achievements in your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, etc. For example, imagine the life of little Johnny:
When little Johnny is a year old and takes his first steps, what do you do? Praise him like crazy. When little Johnny gets a bit older, gets on a bike and takes off on his own, what do you do? Praise him like crazy.
When Johnny brings home his first report card with good grades, what do you do? Again, you praise him like crazy. Why? Because he was successful, and since you want to nurture that success and see more of it, you recognize it and show encouragement when Johnny does well.
Next, Johnny gets involved in extracurricular activities. Maybe he takes up an instrument, plays a sport or joins the theater group. He has more successes, and what do you do? Provide the recognition he craves and deserves. Even if he’s not very successful, you still find something to praise him about: “Johnny, so what if you struck out three times at the plate? Your bat speed was incredible.” This helps him grow and become a better human, a more productive member of society.
Johnny goes off to college, and the trend continues. He regularly receives recognition for his efforts and results. After college, Johnny gets his first job. Wait: First he moves back into your house, and then he gets his first job. That’s when something strange starts to happen (as if moving back home isn’t strange enough).
Johnny enters the work world, where the words “good” and “job” are rarely used together and phrases such as “Way to go!” are few and far between. In fact, most supervisors, managers and executives ration praise as if there is a shortage of it.
Consider how de-motivating it must be to generation after generation entering the workforce when expectations and an inherent need for praise and acknowledgment are consistently denied. Is it any surprise that we are suffering from an engagement crisis with two-thirds of the workforce not engaged or actively disengaged at work? Look that up with Google; it’s horrifyingly true!
So what does it mean to be engaged? It’s quite simple. If someone is engaged at work, that person is motivated and committed to act in the best interest of your company.
Here is the big fallacy: Sometimes managers and leaders believe it’s their responsibility to motivate others at work, but the reality is that as a manager or leader, you can’t motivate anyone at work in a sustainable way. Your job is to create the environment where employees can tap into their intrinsic motivation and become more committed.
Don’t think for a minute that money drives performance and motivation, because it doesn’t. Also, don’t get tricked by rewards-focused companies into believing that rewards drive performance or a more engaged workforce. This, too, is simply not true. Yet it is true that everyone wants a more engaged workforce. So what will help create an engaged workforce?
More than seven decades of research shows there are three main factors promoting motivation and commitment in the workforce:
- Feeling respected for doing a good job.
- Relationship with my boss.
- Understanding how I make a difference
(having a purpose at work).
Even with voluminous research and proof, there is still a chasm between what has been proven decade after decade and what business leaders and managers actually do. I call this the strategic recognition chasm, and it should and can be closed. Too many managers have a rewards-based mentality and operate from assumptions about performance that are outdated, not challenged enough, even untrue.
The reality is that cash or reward incentives will not motivate people in sustainable ways. Motivation is intrinsic. As a leader, you cannot motivate people using bonuses, tchotchkes or other rewards. It doesn’t work—never has, never will.
We’re conditioned to think of rewards and recognition as a pair that must go together, but in fact quite often they don’t. I am not suggesting you should recognize people and forget about the reward. I am suggesting that your company will get much greater value out of the power of recognition and much less from the actual rewards and that the two don’t need to go together to be optimally effective.
The art and science of capturing and sharing successes in a strategic way is about tying recognition to specific actions and results. It’s not only about showing appreciation. It’s about capturing the specific behavior and the resulting business benefit and sharing it in a way that others in the company can learn.
As a leader and manager, if you want a more engaged workforce, then take ownership of doing what you can to create an environment where employees can become more motivated and committed. Begin by taking five minutes a week to positively recognize an employee for “living the brand,” demonstrating the values or delivering great service, and share it with others. Do it, get others around you to do it, watch the culture change over time and enjoy a more engaged workforce.
Gregg Lederman, CEO of Brand Integrity Inc., is a professional speaker on the customer experience, leadership and culture change. He is an adjunct professor at the Simon Business School of the University of Rochester and the author of “Engaged! Outbehave Your Competition to Create Customers for Life.” Read more from him at www.gregglederman.com. Reprinted with permission of the Rochester Business Journal.
Five Dumb Mistakes
— Food for Thought
Check out this list of dumb mistakes that cause great dissatisfaction with employees and create barriers to excellence. (Yes, there are many more, but let’s start with these.)
- Fail to create standards and give people clear expectations, training and coaching so they know what they are supposed to do, and failure to recognize and reinforce positive behaviors. Ever wonder why your staff isn’t thriving?
- Fail to address behaviors and actions of people that are inconsistent with stated and documented expectations and policies. Your employees will tell you this is “keeping dead wood.”
- Delegate “leading and maintaining a sales culture” to the marketing department and/or the training department. Marketing and training are critical support components. Leading and maintaining a sales culture is a Leadership and Management function.
- Fail to instill and address “internal-customer service excellence” as a value. In our business everyone has a customer. If you don’t what’s your value to the organization? Staff support personnel serve those who serve the organization’s external customers.
- Add another level of hierarchy because people are not doing what they are supposed to do. Like another level of “watchers” ever makes a difference, except in the head-count and in labor cost.
Do any of these sound familiar? If so, you’ve got some work to do.
What are your additions to this list? Email us and we’ll include them in another issue or make your suggestion the focus of an article. Need help with any of these issues? Call us.
The Last Word
with LOYD POHL
Who are you?
This is an ancient organizational development exercise: Have your team members articulate who your organization is in terms of what value you bring to your clients. Old idea? Yeah, but when was the last time you went through this exercise? What are your people saying out there when meeting people? Is the “story” consistent?
I just completed this exercise with an organization. The result was dismaying to management. Not only were the answers poorly phrased and not consistent – some of them were actually inappropriate.
The most dismaying comment from a brave sole in the session was “I am not sure our bank even has a story!”
If you are going to try this exercise on your own here are a few tips:
- Don’t warn them.. Catch them off guard. Just like real life!
- Make them really do it… Not “I would say…” but say it!
- While writing it (the story) down is a critical stop in the process that does not alone ensure your team has it down. Practice it…. practice some more…
One reason this skill needs to be revisited is the reality that the customer/prospect has already checked you and your organization out online. This changes your approach in the first discovery meeting and also can affect the way you articulate your organization’s story. Ask your calling officer team to start asking prospects if they had checked them or the organization online. Bet the answer will be that most will say yes.
Want to have some fun? Google yourself and then your sales people. See what pops up. That is what the prospect will find. That can affect the formulation of your introductory statement.
Another reason the “Who are you” exercise is important is that your story has probably changed. The world around us surely has! Has your organization’s “story” evolved?
If you are interested in help addressing this issue with your team, let me know. We can help! It can be a fun, positive exercise!