And then Novice Communicators will say something like:
“Don’t worry – it’s not really that expensive for my [product / service]. Here, let me just go ahead and answer all your questions and then I’ll tell you about all the features and benefits in an attempt to put your mind at ease.”
Meanwhile, what this does is it just dumps fuel on the fire and causes things to spiral even further out of control.
I mean, think about it – when you jump to features and benefits too soon, the other person’s brain just jumps right to: “What’s this gonna cost me?” which, in other words, is “opposition” so now it’s even more of a fight, and we’re only 90-seconds or so in on this relationship.
And remember from earlier how buyers today, because of how much access we have to information, have the relational power dynamic shifted in their favor by default. So often times, they’ll go into the initial interactions even more aggressively (people tend to talk tough when hiding behind screens and phones, right?!), so sales people will go to push back because no one likes being pushed around or talked down to.
This all can quickly devolve into a state of chaos, and opportunities, all across the board in every industry, are blown every day because of this, and then the people will sit back and say things like:
- “Well, I didn’t want to sell to him anyway … that person was an a-hole!”
- “Oh, this COMPANY? Yeah, they’re a bunch of jerks … I spoke with them … buncha idiots over there!”
So under the surface of initial interactions, what’s really happening is a death match between two primal, fear-based creatures who are sizing each other up and fighting to establish dominance of the encounter. This happens every time two people interact for the first time for any reason.
I mean, think of job interviews; first dates; sales calls; walking down the street and someone simply says “hello” (you know the first thing you think is: “What does this person want?” right?). So, business, personal, doesn’t matter, and it’s all rooted in our hard-wired, survival instincts from living in fear for the majority of our human existence.
The world, as we know it, is obviously not how it’s always been. It’s still a dangerous place, don’t get me wrong, but it’s gotten progressively safer in more recent history in comparison to times when a beast could swoop down from out of the sky and snatch you up to feed her family (or just herself).
Who knows how old the world really is – I mean, some say merely 6,000 years or so and some say 6.5 billion years, but I’m sure we could agree that we’ve come a long way from a safety standpoint.
So, there’s no denying that there was a time when the slightest rustling in the bushes could turn out to be the end of us, so when you think about it, from just a survival standpoint, our brains’ main purpose is really to keep us alive. So our brains have been essentially hard-wired to perceive most new information we come across as “threats” and most new people we run into as “foes.”
And what’s kind of crazy (but true) is that we can’t even help it as these snap-judgements are made subconsciously, and this is why first impressions are just so powerful. I’ve read studies that indicate that it takes eight subsequent positive encounters to overcome a bad first impression, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been given eight additional attempts to get it right (especially in a sales setting).
So, in the example from above where the potential client has established control of the encounter, he’s now wildly attacking (with questions) while the novice communicator is like an outmatched boxer, pinned up against the ropes, and just and hoping to make it to the end of the round. And, you know how you can tell who’s in control of a sales encounter? By who’s asking the questions. Seriously.
So beyond this point, the success of the novice communicator will depend solely upon how nice the potential client decides to be because when someone takes control of the initial encounter it sets the power dynamic for the relationship. And typically, once the power dynamic is set, there’s usually no switching roles.
After an initial (sales or anything, really) interaction, one person will emerge in the dominant, alpha-position – the leader, and the other person, from that point forward, will be in the submissive, beta-position – the follower. And there’s really a night and day difference with how things go when you’re in control of the sales process and when you’re not.
And I’m not talking about being a bully or being abrasive or anything high-pressure, either. I’m talking about setting the tone right from the very beginning that influences your potential clients to view you as more of a trusted advisor instead of a typical salesperson, and to view your organization as more of a trusted partner instead of a typical vendor.
These dynamics are all set on the initial interactions, and I have a feeling you know what I’m talking about here.
So, we spoke about the mindset of your potential clients before the initial interaction, so after the death match, you have to realize that their mindsets are really going to be either one of two things. It’ll either be in:
- I’m working with pros who actually listened, who care – who can help me get whatever it is that I’m after, or
- I’m going to have to look at some other options
So, power dynamics are present in every relationship, no matter if business or personal or how long or short (could be a matter of minutes or a matter of years). When you understand this, you can then do things to purposefully influence the power dynamics in your favor, regardless of established titles and ranks.
By purposefully doing this, you’ll establish control of the relationship, but in order to do this, you need to be able to speak with a certain fearlessness that gets the other person to take you seriously right from the start.
There’s a method to doing this, too, to taking control without being abrasive and without being desperate or pushy or anything like that, and I’m a big fan of it because it doesn’t require smooth-talk or high-pressure or anything. By the time you finish this book, you will know how to do it every. single. time.
Think about it: what if you knew how to craft and tailor your communication strategies and approach to go in-line with how the brain prefers to receive and process information instead of going against it? How much more effective would you be in whatever position you happen to hold at this time?
I know it sounds like voodoo at first, but what this means is that you’ll be purposefully and fearlessly communicating in a way that doesn’t set off threat alarms for people who are – by default – in a fearful mindset to begin with. And really, it’s not just your potential clients – it’s you, too.
Anytime we come across anything new, it’s scary to us. Think about how quick we are to jump to negative conclusions versus positive conclusions. Like, seriously – when’s the last time you got a gut feeling that “everything is going to be just fine?”
It happens, I’m sure, but not very often. We’re always much quicker to feel like something is wrong, and it’s because of the evolutionary hardwiring of our brains from living in fear for thousands, if not millions, of years. And think of how our response to threat is to move away from whatever it is as fast as possible whereas our response to reward is to approach it cautiously.
So really, what I’m mapping out for you here through all this is a way to diffuse trust bombs before they have a chance to detonate later on down the line, and think about what this will do when it comes time for your potential clients to make actual purchasing decisions.
When potential clients balk at things like “price,” what’s really causing their hesitation is their mixed feelings of whether or not they trust you and whether or not they trust the company you represent. It’s hardly ever about cost at that point, but no one is going to put their inner monologue on display and come right out and tell you that they love the product and the price is fair but that they just don’t trust you (that would be mean, right?).
So it’s way easier and less-confrontational to go with: “We’ve thought about it and it’s just out of our budget for now.”
*Disclaimer: Please know that none of these methods are geared towards turning NOs into Yesses. With the right qualification standards, you should be able to quickly weed out the NOs and keep them out of your sales pipeline. These methods are designed to capture and capitalize on the MAYBEs and keep them happily moving forward in your sales process because they feel safe and they feel like they’re working with someone who represents a company that has a product or service that can actually help them out. None of these methods are meant to be perceived as a magic bullet that makes everyone sign up immediately.