You can argue with them until you’re blue in the face…
You still won’t make the sale.
You’re familiar with the classical model of the pushy salesperson? They still exist in the wild, I’m sure. Salespeople too caught up in “closing” to actually pay any attention to what their prospects want.
And so even the prospects who buy end up feeling like crap afterward.
Maybe you’ve been one of those prospects?
I remember going car shopping once. I’d just graduated college. I was on the brink of proposing to my wife. And I hit up the dealership.
He directed me to a car HE liked. A tricked-out Honda Civic hatchback. I kind of liked it, sure. But I wasn’t in love with it like he was.
Still, he got me to test-drive it. And 20 minutes later, we’re back at the dealership, and he’s pushing hard. Wants me to do the paperwork. Wants to let me take it home that day. Push, push, push.
Problem was, I was really only excited about it because some of his excitement was rubbing off on me.
It didn’t feel like a car for me.
I felt guilty telling him no.
He pushed more.
I felt less guilty, and told him no a little harder.
Eventually, I just walked away, and left — never to return to that dealership.
He saw selling as trying to get me to do what he wanted…
I use the image of a table, from time to time, because I think it really illustrates this.
Imagine a rectangle table, with two chairs on each of the two long sides.
So you have two chairs, facing two chairs.
Now imagine you sit down with one of these classic salespeople. The kind that sees selling as a head-to-head battle, with one winner.
He’s going to sit in the chair across from you. It’s head-to-head, after all. The very posture is a face-off. You are opposing each other, in physical space.
There is another way…
Now imagine that same table. You sit down, and the salesperson sits down next to you.
Instead of head-to-head, you’re side-by-side.
Instead of opposing, you’re both facing the same direction.
That’s not a face-off, it feels like teamwork.
And the selling approach can be one of teamwork, too. Working with you, to find out what you want. Finding the best option available that fits your needs.
It’s not selling-by-argument, it’s selling-by-cooperation.
And not only does it feel better, it works better in most cases. And it certainly leaves a trail of happy customers, which is absolutely critical if you want to maximize customer lifetime value.
This goes very deep…
Have you heard of Neuro-Linguistic Programming — or NLP?
It’s the study of how the language we use impacts how we think. It came out of hypnosis and therapy, and is designed to model how the world’s best change-workers get people to adopt new and more healthy beliefs.
There’s a critical concept from NLP, called “Pacing and Leading.”
And it could be one of the most powerful persuasive strategies you can use in any field.
The idea is that in order to really connect with someone as part of persuasion, you have to pace them — to meet them where they’re at.
And it’s only then, when they know you’re on their side, that you can lead them — take them where you want them to go.
Hypnotist Milton Erickson, who the founders of NLP studied, sometimes taught it with the maxim, “First you model, then you role-model.”
That is, first you meet them in their reality, in their model of the world. Then and only then can you start to shift and shape their reality and their model to match your desired outcome.
How this ties back into persuasion…
Imagine that car salesman.
He could have asked me about my past cars. What made me buy them. What I liked about them. What was important to me about each one.
Then, he could have asked me why I’d replaced each. Why I had been ready to move on. What I wanted. And what was prompting me to be car shopping today.
In other words, he could elicit my model of the world, and use my likes and dislikes to pace my buying decision-making process.
Then, with all of that, he could have considered the different cars on the lot. How they may or may not meet my needs. And from there, perhaps guide me to a car that was the best fit. And not only that, he could’ve used my words to highlight the features of any car he recommended in the way that was the best fit for my needs.
The same applies to copywriting and marketing…
Here I’ll remind you of the power of knowing your market. Because you can’t ask questions.
Rather, you have to make a bunch of assumptions. Based on ample research and observation.
You enter your prospect’s world. You learn how they behave. You learn what they’re interested in, what they do with their time. You learn their skills and capabilities, as they’re relevant to your product or service. You learn what they believe, about your market, and about the world at large. You get a sense of what they value, what they consider to be important. And you consider their many identities, what roles they see themselves as playing in their world.
And you use all of that to interpret the unique problem your product solves.
Meeting them where they’re at — even if it seems a million miles from your product. Sitting beside them at the selling table.
Then tactfully, from their side, turning their attention, interest, and desire toward your product, service, or offer.
But it all starts with your willingness to go to their side of the table, to pace them in their model of the world.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,