Have you ever had doubts before signing the paperwork for, say, a new car? Doubt is human, and thus a completely natural part of any selling process. In fact, as a salesperson, it’s a good sign when your customer expresses doubt: it means they’re actually considering the purchase.
But you can’t leave doubt unchecked, so you’ll need strategies to handle these last-minute objections.
The very first thing you need to do is differentiate between misunderstandings and valid objections. It’s entirely possible that your presentation wasn’t as fluid as you thought it was, which could lead to misunderstandings that give rise to objections. Clearing up such objections, however, is as easy as following these four steps:
First, rephrase the objection in order to ensure that you really understand what your customer is worried about.
Second, step into the objection. Physically move toward the objector, signaling that you aren’t afraid of their objection.
Third, listen to your customer. Give them time to express their perspective.
And finally, prove your point. Tell them a story, offer a prototype or do anything else that backs up your claims while also addressing their old brain.
Sometimes your customer will make an objection that has nothing to do with misunderstanding. For example, they may simply think that the price is too high. To manage these objections, start with the steps you just learned and then add two more:
Express your own opinion. Your customer made a valid objection, one that you can’t really disprove. However, you can offer your own opinion: “I think our prices are actually pretty competitive.”
Next, highlight a positive side of the objection. Connect to the old brain via stories, demos or customer testimonials and create a link to the customer’s objection. In this case, you could link “high price” with high quality by telling the story of your wife’s heart surgery. The surgery was performed at the best hospital in town and cost a fortune, but in the end it was worth it. Your product is no different.
Would you immediately trust someone that you met on the street? Of course not. You need a reason to trust them. Sales presentations are no different: you need credibility if you want to earn your customers’ trust and close the deal.
Credibility isn’t something that can be faked, and people will know if you are being disingenuous. Luckily, even if you lack credibility, there are things you can do to make yourself more credible.
It all starts with the passion you have for your product or service, and with your integrity. If you are enthusiastic and genuine about something, people will believe you.
Second, understand that we’re more attracted to similar people than to those who are completely different from us. Indeed, you’re far more likely to connect with someone who dresses like you or has a similar accent to yours than with a complete stranger. Do a little research on your audience before you make your presentation so that you can highlight your similarities.
Next, focus on honing your expressiveness – the way you speak and carry yourself. Would you feel more inclined to trust someone who mumbles or someone who speaks confidently?
You should also flex your creativity by being ready to change your approach to fit your audience. One of the easiest ways to do this is to switch the colors in your marketing to generate proximity with a particular audience.
Blue, for example, is thought to represent trust and authority. Blue would be an appropriate color when presenting in front of a bunch of old suits. That might not be the case, however, when delivering a pitch at a tech-leader conference for young females. Colors like orange or pink would be better suited to such an audience.
Finally, be fearless. People trust those who are self-confident. Approach your presentation with a contagious enthusiasm. You’ll be far more welcome this way than if you come across as too smart to engage with your listeners.
Think of your marketing message like a cupcake: the real substance of your message (like that spongy cupcake) is enticing in and of itself, but if you really want to grab someone’s attention, you’ll need to add some sprinkles. It’s easy to do this in your sales presentations.
One way is to adjust your language according to the old brain’s preferences. For example, use the word “you” as often as possible, as the old brain likes to be talked to directly.
Another trick is using sharp contrasts. These are much easier for the old brain to process and remember than vague comparisons. Before/after, with/without your solution, you/your competitors, now/later – the possibilities are virtually limitless. Just be creative!
Whatever you do, keep it short and simple. Remember, you’re trying to address the survival center of the brain. Its attention span is short, for good and obvious reasons.
But it’s not all just about your words. There are also other tools you can use to make your message more easily digestible:
Try to elicit emotions, as they create a direct channel to the old brain and make events more memorable. Think about those times when you were really happy. Do you imagine a complete picture full of detail? Of course! If you make customers happy with your advertising, they’ll be more likely to remember you, too.
The old brain also loves stories. And, usefully, it can’t differentiate between a well-told story and reality.
A good story has details that appeal to the senses. It invites listeners to feel the warmth of the sun, the rain on their face and so on. And remember to be explicit about why the story matters to them, otherwise the selfish old brain will just ignore you.
Finally, a good story has a good punch line. Your story should end on something funny, memorable or engaging. This way, it will stick with your audience.
The old brain developed hundreds of millions of years ago, long before advertising existed – but not before decision-making existed. You can appeal to the old brain any time you need to convince someone of something, like during a job interview.
Ultimately, a job interview is a sales situation in which you sell yourself to the potential customers, the interviewers.
Here are four ways to optimize your communication with the old brain:
Diagnose the pain. Research as much as you can about the relevant position, the person you’re replacing and the exact kind of pain the company wants to ease by filling this position. If your predecessor left after only six months, the fear of losing their replacement just as quickly might be part of the pain. If this is the case, be sure to mention that you’re looking for something long-term.
Differentiate your claims. Listen to what they are looking for; pay attention to statements about you and the competition, and then form your claims. What makes you the cure for their pain? Why you and not competitors with similar backgrounds?
Moreover, focus on what you can do for them. Don’t just tell them that you were a successful project manager. Tell them that your project management skills will directly benefit their team.
Demonstrate the gain. Be as specific as possible about how their company will benefit from hiring you. You could even bring documentation, such as an overview of contributions to your last project, that proves your points.
Finally, deliver to the old brain. Use everything you’ve learned in this book. From a firm hand-shake and strong eye contact to moving toward the interviewers when they object to your claims, always appeal to the old brain. If you can, demonstrate that you’re the perfect match with a good story or even a mini-drama.
With these new tools in your toolbelt, you can now use your knowledge of the old brain whenever you find yourself needing to persuade people!
People don’t behave completely rationally, so it’s not rational argument that will win you the sale. Rather, you have to appeal to people’s ancient decision-maker, the old brain. By knowing how to communicate with the old brain, you’ll be that much closer to closing the deal.
So try this out. The next time you want to implement a strong before/after contrast in your sales presentation, do some research on your target audience. Are they from a part of the world that reads left to right, or right to left? Or perhaps even top to bottom? Whatever their accustomed reading pattern is, it’s your job to adapt your presentation accordingly.
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