Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Turning Prospects Into Customers

At ActionCOACH we believe in people. We believe in interacting with people, understanding where they are at, and offering them the best possible solutions to the problems they are trying to solve. We recognize that not everyone is the same, but everyone does have needs. For this reason, when we are handling prospects, we do our best to understand what those needs are and how ActionCOACH can help. To give you some idea of what I'm talking about, let me quote and paraphrase a few ideas from an excellent book on this topic:

"I suppose if we made an effort we could list a hundred different kinds of prospects: slow thinkers, fast thinkers, wrong thinkers and nonthinkers; big spenders, conservative penny pinchers, criticals, bargain hunters, timid, assertive, impulsive, needler, argumentative; non-listener, stone face, harassed executive, etc.

Then there are the old, the young, and the middle-aged; the male and female; the black and white and everything between. Regardless of the prospect, everyone wants to be right, to be understood, to be appreciated. All have physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. our objective is to meet those needs so these prospects will be our customers ..."

Making a sale is not a process of convincing someone that you are right. It's an opportunity to meet, interact with, listen, and understand effectively another human being's position and what you can do to solve a problem they are faced with. The key things to remember, as Zig Ziglar points out, is that everyone wants to be right and everyone wants to be understood. Getting the prospect involved in the problem-solving process is essential; as you interact, remember that objections are excellent questions and you are always delighted that they have brought them up. The quicker you can establish the needs and personality of your prospect, the quicker you can effectively interact with them. Let's elaborate a little on Ziglar's ideas by briefly looking at personality scenarios from his book and his recommendations of how we can help them realize that we have something valuable to offer them:

Gary Gullible - Just be confident. Gentle, but confident. Be open and straightforward, and he will like you.
Sidney Skeptical - Let them raise their objections, ask them to repeat them for clarification, and address these questions with honest interest and concern.
Hostile Helen - Get this prospect talking and let them express their feelings or past experiences that have shaped their current position. Honestly appreciate who they are and where they are coming from.
Indecisive Ivan - Be empathetic, reassuring, and absolutely convinced that your product is the best thing for him. Be firm.
Betty Bargain Hunter - Be certain they understand that everyone is treated the same by your company, and then seal the deal by doing something to assure them that they got the best possible offer. They need to feel like a winner, so help them realize that they are one.
Oliver Obnoxious - In a firm but positive way, give them attention; also challenge them with facts that uphold your product's effectiveness. Don't forget to appeal to their pride - it's important to them to feel that they belong to an elite crowd.
Heloise Hurry-up - Be brief and businesslike. Close the sale, handle details, and be sure you follow up so they get exactly what they want. Their time is the first thing on their priority list.
Jolly Jimmy - Be casual and be a friend. Offer encouragement and advice for action, as a friend.
Nora Know-it-all - Let them impress you, but be aware of how long it might take.
Bobby Big Shot - Make him feel important, and that you are an overachiever yourself.
Impulsive Irene - Conviction and firmness at the peak of the impulse will close this sale. It won't take long, one way or the other.
Agreeable Al - When someone agrees with everything and nods continuously, it's time to stop and find out why they've already made a decision not to buy. Either they'll give you an objection that you can work with, or they'll realize you have more to offer than they thought.

Ziglar has offered us a few glimpses into the complicated world of effectively understanding and relating to people around us. What it boils down to is the ability to understand someone in their own language and speak it back to them. There's no doubt that you have a solution to their problem - turn the mirror to appropriately reflect that and let them see for themselves. We could all use a little more understanding.

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