Turn Your Sales Pitch Into a Children’s Book

What was your favorite children’s book growing up?

Vividly picture it. You’re sitting on Mom or Dad’s lap, hands wrapped around the hardcover frame of your book. You’ve read this book a million times, so you already know what’s going to happen, but you’re very okay with that.

“What’s wrong with this picture?” Mom says. You smile up at Mom, eagerly point to the tiger sitting in the baby carriage, and turn to the next page of Wacky Wednesday.

Stories bridge reality and imagination. They allow us to relate our current circumstances to new, exciting, and often preferred worlds. Stories ask us to question, “What if…?”

However, the less than glamorous truth is that as we mature, we dedicate a larger portion of our daily language to pragmatic conversation. Take a guess: over the course of an average day, how many stories do you tell?

Let me pose you a challenge.

In your sales conversations, make a goal to tell at least three stories every day. And tell your stories like you’re reading a children’s book.

Here’s what I mean. First of all, every children’s book has a single, simple guiding premise. Maybe there’s a mischievous little monkey whose adventurous personality gets him into frequent hijinks, or maybe there’s a mustached, potato-shaped mGreen Eggs and Haman whose primary concern is protecting the forest. Regardless of the book’s plot, it has a single, simple, guiding premise. Your sales message should be just as easy to discern.

Now, thinking back to your favorite children’s book, who was the main character? Was it a child? Nearly every children’s book has a child or a childlike animal as the main character. This brings us to our second point: we love stories about ourselves.

In sales, with every story you tell, make the main character someone just like your prospect. Your prospect will it find hard to be less than fully engaged with your message.

Thirdly, consider how fantastically interactive children’s books are. Children’s books compel us to point, cheer, chant, offer our opinions, and answer questions. Isn’t this exactly what you want out of your sales conversations? Instead of just telling your prospect a story, encourage your prospect to tell the story with you.

Take a look this sales conversation, and notice how it incorporates these three elements of children’s book.

Prospect: So what is it exactly that your company does?

Salesperson: Thanks for asking, Prospect. We help tech companies accelerate their sales cycles. Let me give you an example how we do this. I noticed that your company primarily does federal sales, right?

Prospect: Yes, that’s correct.

Salesperson: Great, and you’re in charge of managing the sales pipeline for your team?

Prospect: Mostly, yes.

Salesperson: Okay, perfect. So John Smith at ABC Company led a sales team that also focused on federal sales. Like most companies in federal sales, his sales cycles tended to be long, and his deal sizes tended to be large. Would you say this is true for you too?

Prospect: Oh, definitely.

Salesperson: Wonderful, so this next bit might resonate with you then. John noticed that when a handful of certain red flags surfaced throughout the sales process, his team would almost never win the contract. But the problem was that the salesperson, who had spent a good chunk of time on the flagged deal, wouldn’t want to let it go. As a result, his salespeople often wasted their time time on deals they ultimately wouldn’t win. Can you think of any red flags like this that come up for you in your sales process?

Prospect: For sure. We know that X, Y, and Z are pretty much showstoppers for us.

Salesperson: Ah, I understand. And sometimes, your reps continue to work these deals anyways?

Prospect: All the time.

Salesperson. Yes, that’s exactly what John noticed. To fix the issue, John contracted with us to help define these red flags and build them into his sales process, so his sales reps and sales managers would be instantly notified whenever a red flag surfaced. And by implementing this process, allowing John to reduce the amount of time his team spent on bad deals, what would you guess happened to his sales cycle?

Prospect: I imagine that it got substantially shorter.

Salesperson: Bingo. Prospect, you’re exactly right.

By turning your sales pitch into a children’s book, you relate to your prospect, engage your prospect, and take control of the conversation with targeted questions. To do this, in summary, make your message simple, make your main character relatable, and make your story interactive.

Give the children’s book method a shot, and let me know how it goes. Together we’ll make ABC Company and the Super Short Sales Cycle a bestseller (pun completely intended).

Yours on the grind,

Marc

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Never Give Up on a Question

You just asked: “Based on your LinkedIn, I figured that you have a hand in improving x and y, is that right?”

Your prospect replies: “Wait a sec. Now what is it that your company does, exactly?”

How do you respond?

If you’re like most cold callers, your prospect’s abrupt, tangential response will prompt you to make a critical mistake.3526522573_8f40a675b6

If you’re like most cold callers, you’ll give up on your question, launch into a disjointed spiel about everything your company offers, and then you’ll shyly ask the prospect if you managed to pique her interest at all. Your prospect will say, “No thanks,” and then she’ll hang up.

Allowing your prospect to skip over your question and ask one of her own cedes control of the conversation. It also implies that what you asked was unimportant.

Consider a parallel scenario. There’s no way you’d stand for this sort of reversal maneuver in conversation with a friend.

How would you feel if you asked your friend if she’d be free for dinner tomorrow night, and instead of answering your question, she replies by asking you if you saw the final minutes of yesterday’s ball game?

Would you then offer a detailed analysis of each player’s performance? Not a chance.

And in your cold calls, too, there’s a better way.

In your cold calls, when your prospect skips over your question and asks you one of her own, she’s expressing skepticism that your conversation plan aligns with her best interests. If you flat out ignore your prospect’s question, you prove that her concerns don’t matter to you, so the key is to walk a middle line.

Answer your prospect’s question in as few words as possible,
then use your answer to explain why your question was important.

Let’s rerun our first example.

You: “Based on your LinkedIn, I figured that you have a hand in improving x and y, is that right?”

Prospect: “Wait a sec. Now what is it that your company does, exactly?”

You: “Oh, of course. We’re a tech company that tackles challenges in x and y, which is why I wanted to see if you have a hand in either of those areas.”

When you return to your question and justify it, you prove that you’ve thought out the conversation plan more than your prospect has. Once she sees that you aren’t wasting her time with unimportant questions, she’ll be far less likely to reverse your questions throughout the rest of the conversation.

Ultimately, by briefly answering your prospect’s question and using it to justify yours, you’ve a) diffused tension by giving your prospect the answer she asked for, b) maintained control of the conversation by continuing to question, and c) built trust by demonstrating that your questions have value.

Never give up on a question.

Yours on the grind,

Marc

5 Psychology Principles that Will Make You A Better Cold Caller

Some say sales is an art. Others say it’s a science. Hardly a soul says it isn’t routed in psychology.

If you want to be a better cold caller, learning psychology is a must. Here are 5 psychology principles that will make you a better cold caller.

  1. The Contrast Effect

Definition: Magnification or diminishment of perception as a result of previous exposure to something of lesser or greater quality1.2000px-mond-vergleich-svg

Why You Should Care: Good things look better when they’re side-by-side with bad things. For example, that brand new Honda coupe looks like a Ferrari next to its 1988 beat-up alternative. Make your product more appealing by first naming a few negative attributes that it doesn’t have.

Cold Call Example: “Our product doesn’t take months to set up or an engineering degree to use. Instead, it’s ready to use right out of the box, and you’ll feel comfortable with it after just a few hours of playing with it.”

  1. In-Group Favoritism

Definition: People define themselves in terms of social groupings and are quick to denigrate others who don’t fit into those groups2.

Why You Should Care: In-group favoritism is the cornerstone of sales rapport. The more similarities you establish between you and your prospect, the better you’ll get along. You can even take it one step further—it rarely hurts to poke fun at a common enemy to help you and your prospect bond.

Cold Call Example: “You’d be surprised: there are a lot of people out there who neglect that responsibility and try to delegate it to some outside company. Isn’t that wild?”

  1. Loss Aversion

Definition: Losses have more of an emotional impact than equivalent gains3.

Why You Should Care: Pain sells. Pleasure sells less.

Let’s say you’re selling vacation packages. You might find success describing the gorgeous beachfront view and the smell of ocean mist. Yet, chances are you’ll find more success if your prospect admits that she doesn’t take enough time off work and can’t remember the last time she and the family spent leisure time together. Which version do you think sounds more compelling?

Cold Call Example: “Right now, you’re losing x hours each week because your current way of doing things is less efficient than it could be.”

  1. The Power of “Because”

Definition: When we ask someone to do us a favor, we will be more successful if we provide a reason4.

Why You Should Care: Because all good sales conversations should have one or more asks, you can strengthen your asks by justifying them.

Cold Call Example: Because you do have pains around x, y and z, could we take a few minutes this afternoon to see if you might find our solution helpful?”

  1. Norm of Reciprocity

Definition: We are obligated to give back to others in the form of behavior that they have first given to us.5

Why You Should Care: Let me reveal to you perhaps the most underused sales tool: sincere kindness. As a good cold caller, you must remember that the moment your prospect picks up the phone, you have yet to do her any good. On the contrary, you have demanded her time, attention and trust. To overcome this “kindness deficit”, ask yourself, “How can I make my prospect’s life better?” Small gestures of kindness—think: a restaurant offering you a mint to cap off your meal—can breathe life into a sales relationship. Offer enough mints, and your prospects will notice.

Cold Call Example:

“If you’d mind giving me a call back—actually, scratch that; I’ll send you an email to make your life a little easier.”

Final Thoughts

Can you think of any other principles of psychology that have helped you sell? If so, please share them, because your thoughts will go to waste unless you put them out in the open for your fellow salespeople to enjoy.

Yours on the grind,

Marc

Citations:

  1. http://study.com/academy/lesson/contrast-effect-definition-example.html
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201012/in-groups-out-groups-and-the-psychology-crowds
  3. http://www.investopedia.com/university/behavioral_finance/behavioral11.asp
  4. http://jamesclear.com/copy-machine-study
  5. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/11/26/165570502/give-and-take-how-the-rule-of-reciprocation-binds-us

 

Digging for Gold

You searched and searched, but there was none to be found.

There were two “we’re all good”s, three “we do really well with that”s, and one “we’re pretty happy with what we have.”

You almost gave up. You didn’t think you’d find any. You were just moments away from wrapping up your cold call and moving onto the next.

But as you knelt down to grab your cold calling pickaxe and sweep it into your pack, you noticed in your peripheral a distinct, familiar glimmer. A splendid glimmer.

“Sure, we have challenges with that, but so does everyone.”

Bingo. You just struck pain.

Now that you’ve struck pain, what are you to do? Do you stop mining and go home? Of course not. You grab your pickaxe as fast as you can, and you dig, dig, dig.

The moment you discover your prospect’s pain, your instinct may be to feverishly explain how you’d like to solve it. You’re excited about your solution and can’t wait to tell your prospect about all of its bells and whistles.

I urge you to wait.

Never reveal your solution at the first sign of pain. Think of your cold call like a magic trick: nearly the entirety of a magic trick focuses on building up excitement, dazzling the audience with your showmanship and setting the gold-295938_960_720stage for your ultimate illusion. And then finally, at the snap of your fingers, you make your grand reveal, and the audience goes wild. A successful cold call embraces this magic trick mentality.

Instead of jumping to reveal your solution at the first sign of pain, here’s what you should do:

Once you find your prospect’s pain, ask targeted questions to understand and amplify that pain.

Your prospect just told you that she’s not as efficient as she’d like to be? Great. Ask your prospect how much time her inefficiency costs her. Ask her to give you an example of a time where she was particularly inefficient. Ask her what she’s tried in the past to become more efficient. Ask her why efficiency matters to her.

The benefits of digging for gold with questions like these are threefold. First, it offers you untapped insight into your prospect’s pain so you can highlight the aspects of your solution that are most relevant. Second, it asks your prospect to focus on her pain, establishing the pain’s importance and directing her focus toward it. Third, it gives your prospect the opportunity to admit her pain so you don’t have to try to convince her that she’s hurting.

Digging for gold positions you for an easy sell. After you’ve dug for gold, establishing next steps with your prospect is a piece of cake.

“Well, since you mentioned that becoming more efficient is an important concern of yours, and because that’s exactly what our solution addresses, let’s put a few minutes on the calendar to discuss this in more detail, if that’s okay. You don’t have any availability later today or tomorrow, do you?”

And just like that, your prospect is happily buzzing through the sales funnel.

Here’s a final thought for you to entertain, if you would.

“Why is patience so important?” Best-selling author Paulo Coelho famously asked. “Because it makes us pay attention.”

Yours on the grind,

Marc

The Fourth Wall

Imagine that you’re watching a horror film.

In a long, dark hallway, the protagonist stands frozen, cautiously ducking his head, lantern in hand. He’s just heard a noise. He creeps his head forward to investigate, and the ominous symphony music grows louder. The camera crawls closer. Louder. Closer. Now, we’re hovering just over his left shoulder. The music cuts. And then…

“Hey, man, could you stop that? I’m about to get eaten by a monster, and the last thing I need is a camera in my face.”

Tension broken.

This is called “breaking the fourth wall”—when in film or theater, an actor breaks role to remind the audience that what they’re watching is only a spectacle.

Can you see how this might apply to your cold calls?

In your cold calls, you must start by creating constructive tension—and theatrical interest in your solution—by building a fourth wall. You must act as though you were not cold calling, but instead learning about your prospect’s business at a party or over a cup of coffee. The success of this façade hinges on one simple rule:

The language you use to describe your cold call becomes the reality.

The second you admit that you’re a potential seller, your prospect must also admit that she’s a potential buyer. The fourth wall protects your prospect from having to make this admission before she’s learned who you are and what you have to offer. It allows you to establish trust and demonstrate your product’s value before asking your prospect to relinquish her time and attention.

Fortunately, people are so eager to follow social conventions that if at the start of your cold calls you act as though you have zero intent to sell, most will happily entertain this notion until you declare new rules for your conversation. So just ask unassuming questions about your prospect’s business and roll with it.

Roll with it, that is, until you need to tear down the wall.

berlin-wall-526521_960_720

When one of the following triggers occurs, it’s usually a good idea to break the fourth wall.

  • Your prospect straight-up asks, “Is this a cold call?”
  • Your prospect requests that you back off (e.g., “I don’t take cold calls” or “I can’t have this conversation with you”.)
  • Your prospect refuses to answer your questions or cede control of the conversation.

Each of these scenarios merits a different “breaking the fourth wall” response, while they all require the same fundamental admission: “Yup, I’m a sales guy.”

Bringing down the fourth wall, the no-nonsense admission to your prospect that you have a product to sell, reminds your prospect that you’re human and that phone calls are how you make your living. Your prospect regains a sense of control as she recognizes that she alone has the power to make a purchase. Everyone takes a breath.

Once you master use of the fourth wall, your product will sparkle and amaze in the theatrical world, and your prospect buy in the real one.

Reality is at your fingertips.

Yours on the grind,

Marc

 

Transference

You’ve had a bad day at work. A couple of your most promising deals now seem like they’re going sour. Tired and frustrated, you slide into your car, grip your icy-cold steering wheel, and start your trek back home. Just a few minutes into your commute, the driver next to you puts on her turn signal, politely asking to shift into your lane. You inch your car forward and close the gap she wanted.

That’s transference.

Transference is the human tendency to act upon emotions outside of the context from which they arose. Transference makes you more likely to donate to charity when you’re feeling up and to fight with a loved one when you’re down.

In your cold calls, to channel the power of transference:

Help your prospects attribute negative feelings to their pains
and positive feelings to your solutions.

Your cold call is going to be an emotionally charged environment. You can’t help that, nor should you try to. With transference, your goal is to use this emotionally charged environment to your advantage.

The frustration, impatience, guilt, and skepticism that your prospect feels on your cold call—direct those feelings toward your prospect’s pains to help your case. Is your prospect worn out after a long day of work and taking it out on your call? Think about whaDCF 1.0t might have worn your prospect out. “Ms. Prospect,” you commiserate. “You don’t have Authority X beating down your door, do you?” With this question, you a) demonstrate that you understand your prospect’s difficulties, and b) redirect your prospect’s attention toward those difficulties. When you proceed to suggest that you might be able to make Authority X less of an issue, you cease to be the bothersome cold caller and instead become the hero.

Insert yourself into your prospect’s positive emotions all the same. Get excited with your prospect. Joke with your prospect. If your prospect tells you about her wonderful day, tell her about yours.

All intense emotions, if channeled properly, can lead to intense support for your solution. Become skillful in transference, and you will find that your prospects will sell themselves.

Yours on the grind,

Marc

Names, Names, Names

There might be nothing in the universe that identifies you so well as your name.

Think about it for a second: 90% of the time you hear your name, something in your life changes. Someone is starting a conversation with you. Someone is giving you a direction. A group is asking you to join them. People who use your name in your life are friends, family, and coworkers. People who don’t are strangers.

The more you use your prospect’s name in your cold call, the better.

People are psychologically conditioned to respond to their names—to view what you’re saying as more important and more familiar. In fact, your brain responds differently to your own name than to all other names, as early as infancy, and even when you’re unconscious1.

2000px-Hello_my_name_is_sticker.svg.pngUsing your prospect’s name is just one way to reinforce that your conversation is important and comfortable. It makes your prospect feel like she’s having a conversation with a close friend, or better yet, having an internal conversation with herself.

Oh, and you should use other names too. Names of people your prospect knows and trusts. Names of public figures your prospect might recognize. And even *gasp* your own name.

But don’t get carried away, because your call isn’t about you or who you know. It’s about your prospect.

Yours on the grind,

Marc

Citations

1. Carmody, Dennis P., and Michael Lewis. “Brain Activation When Hearing One’s Own and Others’ Names.” Brain Research. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2015.