Engaging Customers
3 methods to get people talking

Step 1:

Have you ever wondered why some people turn sales people and others down? To get past this resistance we need to understand that selling is all about communications, not your product. In this segment we will start with the initial contact or how to “engage” the other person rather than creating resistance.

It doesn’t matter if we are using the phone, walking in cold or in a retail setting. We need to avoid adding additional resistance in the other person’s mind. Avoidance of “sales people” occurs in 80% of our population, the result of product pushing.

Here is the key;
“Do I understand what the other person really wants? Do I have an idea of how to talk in their “language”? Can I ask a question that will drop resistance and engage them in conversation”?

It has been proven time and time again that shoving your product in front of someone will create resistance not only to your product, but also towards you.

Review the first and second key from the last newsletter, your customer buys the “results” of your product/service/idea because it fixes, fills or satisfies their perceived needs. This means your product/service/idea is just a means to an end, not the main issue.

2. So our first action is to take the time and determine what it is that our product/service/idea does for the other person. Determine what the real results are from using your product/service/idea. Here are some examples.

A business owner might be looking for more time, better productivity, reducing hassle in some area, freeing up capital for something else.

A young mother with 3 toddlers might be looking for best value, more time, better direction, safety, even just a listening ear.

A plant manager might be looking for ways to get better compliance reduce down time and get his numbers up, keeping his boss off his back.

Think of your past and current customers, what is it your product/service/idea did for them? What did it reduce, take away, eliminate or create? Also keep in mind that people have a tendency to avoid loss more than obtain gain. This means if you can provide a better “today”, it generally has more power than a better “tomorrow”.

You want to “engage” your prospect or customer in a positive way. In the section above we talked about getting your product out of the way to reduce resistance and instead talk about the “results” your product provides. This section we will develop questions that can “engage” rather than repel.

Before we start we have to understand what results your product can potentially provide for your customer. Here are some examples.

Office equipment: Reduce work load, eliminate paper, eliminate errors, streamline process, reduce labor expense, free up time, create in-house opportunities, and eliminate daily frustrations.

Real Estate Agent: Eliminate wasted time, reduce the stress of selling/buying, assure legalities are covered, target the market, professional image, experienced input, negotiations services, and eliminate the hassles.

Now there are many more and I suggest you create at least 20 for your product.

Let’s now apply these to questions that “engage” our customers. We want to use “open” type questions that get people talking. Without them talking we have only partial engagement. Open questions use what, why, how in their structure.

“Mr. Jones, what effect would a reduced work load have on your staff?”

“If you could eliminate both paper and errors in your current procedures, what would happen for you?”

“Just suppose the frustrations you face on a daily basis were gone, how would it change things for you?”

Now put yourself in the customer’s shoes, how would you react to the previous questions versus this?

“We sell copiers and office machines of the highest quality with excellent service, when could we meet to determine your needs?”

How many items are in this question that create resistance or could be rejected by the customer? Compare that to the questions above, which ones “engage” and which question repels.

Now if your customer is in the “D-I” quadrant of the DISC profile you can ask for appointments or get quickly to the point. If you have an “S-C” DISC Quadrant profile they may want more information which you can give in the form of a quick example of another application you have done, NOT a litany of your products facts and benefits.

This has proven to be a much more viable way to engage customers and people in general than talking about your “stuff”. People are concerned about their issues and problems, not your product or you. Engage them by asking about what a “result” might do to their concerns and issues. You will find them much more open and willing to talk.

One of our participants from the Internet Technologies Industry asked only one of these type questions and 20 minutes later closed on a million dollar deal! Just one question! The customer did all the talking and sold themselves.

Our next section will develop how to engage and reframe our results to reduce resistance.

Getting someone’s positive attention is always a challenge. So what is the “trick” to engaging others? As I have been studying the concepts of Influence and Persuasion over the past few years, it appears as though many of the ideas I used in the past were not as effective and for good reason. They are too cumbersome and usually address the wrong idea or in a way that the customer does not understand.

This is where the idea of combining the open type question from the last segment and “reframing” comes in. What is “reframing”? To help you understand the concepts consider the following little story.

A monk meets his best friend, another monk, in the hall. “You seem a bit down”’ says the first Monk. “Well I asked the Bishop if it was all right to smoke while I prayed”. He said,” Absolutely not!” “That’s interesting”, says the other monk, “Just the other day I asked the Bishop if it was all right to pray while I smoked”. He said “Absolutely!”

Let’s take a look at this from the Bishop’s view and the pictures that probably came to his mind. The monk asked if he could smoke while he prayed, so where do most people usually pray? In Church of course, and you certainly do not want to be smoking in Church! The other monk had asked if it was alright to pray while he smoked. Where are most people smoking these days? It’s outside and they are usually not doing a lot at the time, so praying sounds like a good idea.

This is called “framing” a situation or request. On the outside the two monks asked for the same thing, but in the Bishop’s (customer’s) mind the picture or context of the two requests were quite different.

Now consider how you frame your requests, what type of picture or context do they create for your customers? Might they be asking permission to smoke while you pray?

Here is a way to test and develop some alternate framing. Write out several open type questions you feel would work. Then ask yourself what type of picture this creates in your mind. Does the picture have a negative feel? Does the emphasis of your picture have negative connotations? Is there anything in the picture that is easily rejected?

We can use the copier example from the previous segment.

“We sell copiers and office machines of the highest quality with excellent service, when could we meet to determine your needs?”

I am the customer and my picture sees machines which break down, cost me money, and take up room. Excellent service, why would I need service if they are such high quality? You want to determine my needs, you mean waste my time!

Now not every customer will see it this way, but a greater percentage will and you have built a strong barrier before you can even get started. So we want to rethink and reframe our approach to something that they can buy into right away.

“If you could eliminate both paper and errors in your current procedures, what would change for you?”

After we frame the question around a result it changes the mental picture greatly. Now the customer sees a clean office and no phone calls about problems as well as how it feels to her to not have to deal with them. Is there really anything to reject? What are the chances of them saying “no” to such an approach? You might even get them asking “How could you do that?” and isn’t that the response you want?

Take the questions you have written and try several different approaches with them. Take the entire product out, how do they sound? Take anything that requires the customer to do something out, does it change the picture? Keep editing until you have a half dozen strong open ended questions that are almost impossible to say “no” to and engages the customer with more than a one word answer.

Questions or comments:
Contact Harlan at Harlan@BusArc.com 701-799-1972.

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Harlan Goerger

Author's Bio: 

With over 25 years of hands on training and coaching of over 10,000 business profesonals, Harlan brings a hands on approach to developing leadership and selling skills. His new book "The Selling Gap" includes several new concepts that have not been published before! In applying his skills and ideas, several clients have experianced 300-400% growth! See what he can do for you at www.BusArcOnLine.com or get your book copy at www.TheSellingGap.com