Emotional authenticity: The Key to Greater Sales Success

I’ve been meaning to start blogging again, with the promise of staying consistently consistent, and reading MPI’s “future of the meetings industry” forced me into it.

It was a post about the EMEC speaker (I won’t say who it is here but he is most definitely a Gen X’er) based on his action photo. He was quoted as saying:

“So much of our daily work in modern organizations is virtual—email, teleconferences, social networks—that physical, human connection is becoming more important than it ever was.”

Hellooooo! That is exactly what John Naisbitt wrote about in 1982 in Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives (which can be purchased now for $1.01 on Amazon!).

Here is what the blurb says for his 1999 book called: High Tech, High Touch:

 

“In a High Tech world with an increasing search for balance, High Touch will be the key to differentiate products and services. “Focusing on the effects of technology in reshaping society, the book brings together a mountain of evidence implicating
technology in relentlessly accelerating our lives and stirring profound yearnings for a more emotionally satisfying existence.”

 

But no, this isn’t an advertisement for Naisbitt. It is to say that the concept of Emotional Authenticity is and has been the key to Sales Success and Life Success for all time.

 

The better you can communicate your authentic desire to help your buyer feel (emotionally) safe and smart working with you, the better you can help them envision their authentic and emotionally satisfying outcome, the more you will sell.

The change we should be talking about today, to me, is not high tech, high touch. That has stayed the same. The change is that our products and services – what we offer – has become less important than how we communicate what we offer.

The insights we bring to our buyers and the emotionally satisfying – genuine through and through (caring more about their success than even making the sale!) – make more of a difference today than a bell or whistle or three.

Tim Sanders also got it right years ago with his book, Love is the Killer App, when he said:

“Those of us who use love as a point of differentiation in business will separate ourselves from our competitors just as world-class distance runners separate themselves from the rest of the pack trailing behind them.”

Further, he wrote:

“When you represent knowledge, oportunity, selflessness, and intimacy, you are not just a service provider or a product. You are fun, you are interesting, you are valuable; you take people places they have never been before, you show them books they have never heard of, you introduce them to people they never dreamed they would meet — in short, you are the equivalent of a human theme park.”

You want to sell more?

1. Love them more.

2. Demonstrate emotional authenticity.

3. Be a theme park ;-)

Voila!

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A False Positive When Selling

My client invited me to skype into her sales meeting.

 

“Wait until you hear what they think is a legitimate – a hot! – lead. It will make you sick,” she said.

 

And it did.

 

When a prospect says, “Sure, send me more info” that is not a HOT lead.

 

If you’re going to report at tomorrow’s sales meeting that you have a hot lead, that means that your questions have ensured that they have entered your sales funnel, that they are interested in creating additional ROI by working with you, and that you can help them to create more success and happiness than if they went/chose somewhere/something else.

 

Having the right questions – insight-based thoughtful questions – to ensure your prospects see you  thinking as a trusted partner – an advocate who will help them achieve success, will ensure that you are not reporting a false positive.

 

So what are the questions you’re comfortable asking?

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Why you are likely selling the wrong thing

What matters to your customer?

 

It’s the only thing that matters.

 

I was lucky enough today to have a great convo with a DOSM who said she learned from a previous one. He told her that he lost a HUGE and important sale because he knew better than the client.

 

The client arrived for the site inspection with his Board President. The hotel was far removed from the city, an obstacle the team was always trying to manage/handle/overcome.

 

So her boss’s first words, after the appropriate thank you were: “I bet the trip from the city seemed like it took forever but we’re actually only X time from the city and our shuttle provides safe, reliable service back and forth so your attendees are always just a shuttle ride away.”

 

Dead silence.

 

Meeting planner: Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. The reason you had been at the top of our list was that we would feel secluded, stay together as a team, avoid the city and the distractions.

 

Yes, he should have found that out during his questioning of needs. But how often do we think we know what will excite the client? How often are we so excited with what we have to offer that we forget to tune in to what the buyer needs and wants?

Tell this story at your sales meeting tomorrow and ask for similar stories. Your team and colleagues will have them and what an awesome learning experience for all.

 

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4 reasons (and what you can do) to get business from your “friends”

One of my very best friends is an independent meeting planner who hires speakers for her clients. But I can’t remember the last time she hired me.

And it’s my fault.
Because of our friendship, I rarely talk business with her, provide talking points to help her sell me or help her defend my pricing to her clients.
In fact, what I’m hearing more and more from buyers is the sentiment that they can no longer work with “friends” and relationships built over cocktails, dinner and time, but that they must choose the business option they can best defend.
To be that option:
1. Woo everyone. When 3,000 unhappy couples were interviewed, they said the reason they were unhappy is that they stopped communicating. I assure you they talked about who would drop the kids at school and who would take the dog to the kennel. What they didn’t talk about was the important stuff… (from a business perspective)…what matters most to your success/happiness? How can I help you beyond what is happening now?
2. Provide your best offer. They have to explain their value to their stakeholders. Though they are likely to say, “I really believe in them. They’ll do an amazing job for us” it will be much effective if you can help them do their jobs best. Help them. Here is the value we will receive from them. The list should be long.
3. Be innovative. Provide fresh, new ideas to help people who will be satisfied with less, be better than they thought they could be. Elevate them with what you know.
4. Own the friendship, not the business relationship. Be clear in what is most important and make that clear. I will not starve if my friend never chooses to hire me. In fact, if she does, I’ll work so hard to ensure she is thrilled that I may have to neglect customers who hire me on a regular basis. Our friendship is way too important to me. I’d rather just be friends, forget the charade that we can work together, and serve someone else – delighting them in the process and just enjoying that second glass of wine with a good friend.
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One thing you Must do to Improve Sales

It is so easy to improve sales and it has nothing to do with the officially designated sales team.

 

It has to do with the receptionist, reservationist, greeter.

 

Here is how a luxury hotel “operator” answered my call today: (Think blah.) “He…llo… This is Name of Hotel. (Think nasal, annoyed and very, very tired). How may I assist you?”

 

By the time she finished her “greeting,” I felt like I needed a nap.

 

But it gets worse (which probably comes as no surprise to you!). I get transferred to reservations, ask for a date and rate, and that is exactly what I get. In fact, that is all I get. No attempt to up serve me, learn my reason for being in the area, try to help me to feel comfortable, smart, safe or confident deciding to book with the hotel.

 

This doesn’t mean the person answering the phone needs to act like my best friend. I already have one. But they do need to try to give me the best possible experience and the warmest welcome and make me feel appreciated for calling or visiting.

 

Call your PBX today and try not to freak out. Are you losing sales because the buyer feels that if this is representative of the hotel, they don’t want to be there? Are you losing sales because they don’t have the correct information or don’t know how to communicate it in a way that helps the buyer want to advance the sale? Are you losing sales because they don’t care or don’t know how to sell?

 

First impressions are lasting impressions.

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What to say after “hello” – Prospect for Success!

A few months ago I read an article about how awful it would be if the right to use mobile phones on airplanes became a reality. The author’s reasoning was this: Only old people still use a phone as a talking device and a lot of them are hard of hearing. Could there be a worse combo on an airplane than having to listen to a conversation about convalescence? 

Good for a laugh, I think the writer got it wrong. Though I admit that I have considered the phone an interruption to my day, I also know that there is nothing like a skype call when you can hear and see the other human being. It’s like breaking bread together, almost.  And a phone call, when you can hear the other person’s tone, inflection, pauses and they hear yours, and you can catch nuances that are impossible by email or text (even with a slew of emoticons) and mitigate conflict, and efficiently and effectively collaborate, well, it’s not just old people who should be using the phone. We all can benefit from picking up the phone and yes, it may require more time than crafting an email (and maybe not!) but live-speak is a business accelerator, not an interruption.
The biggest challenge is that we’re out of practice! We don’t know what to say when we get the chance to say it.
Your LinkedIn contact emails back, “Sure, call me Tuesday afternoon.” 
Or you phone a prospect who seemed interested when you met at the trade show/sales blitz/networking event and instead of getting him, you get his voice message. Or, you get him.
Now what?
What will you say? Will you fumble around and lose the opportunity to make your best impression? Will you be prepared to enable the best business conversation? What can you say that will connect/re-connect the two of you?
Here is the thing: Prepare! This isn’t brain surgery and the same situations (with a few small twists) occur again and again and again.
SpeakerSue’s advice:
  • Talk less.
  • Listen more.
  • Be prepared with thoughtful questions that encourage conversation about what matters most to them.
  • Don’t ever plan an elevator pitch.
  • Plan a conversation starter that focuses on your prospect not your product.
  • Enable the best business conversation and your voice message just may get returned.
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5 Ways to help your prospects buy from you

The American jackal, better known as a coyote, has survived for 1.8 million years. The name “coyote” is borrowed from Mexican Spanish, meaning “trickster.”
This explains why some sales people exist even though they bring no value to the prospect. They trick them and they’re able to adapt their tricks as times change.
What has brought on this rant? A post in a LinkedIn community. The topic was listening to C-levels and gaining trust.
One person posted his response: “I listen only to prospects that are ready, willing and able to buy. I don’t have time to babysit a C-level or anyone who isn’t interested in buying.”
It’s likely that your response was as visceral as mine. Can this person be real?
The easiest way to avoid being a jackal (or jack#%^) is to stop selling and start helping the buyer buy. Selling without listening would be like my walking in to my doctor’s office, presenting myself, and having the doc diagnose “step throat”.  How can we provide a solution without listening?
Listen from their viewpoint. 
Become your customer.
Stay as neutral as possible as you listen, not quick to jump in with your solution, but quick to ask questions and learn more to offer them the best solution for them.
Listen for points of agreement. You’ll hear 25% more when you do and you’ll also be able to elevate the conversation for the buyer.
Replace always be closing with always be listening.
Coyotes trick their prey. If a dog meets a coyote, the coyote doesn’t attack it. It befriends it and calls its friends to meet the lost dog. Then, they start tricking the dog, leading it further away from its desired path home. By the time the dog realizes what is happening, the coyote pack descends on the dog…
Tricksters have been around for way too long. Our job as sales people is to ensure the success of our customers and that can only happen with a deep curiosity and a desire to help them shine.
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Are you Rough Around the Edges?

A coaching client of mine is brilliant but no one wants to hear what she has to say because she has no social graces with which to say it.

During her last review, she was refused a coveted position though she thinks it was because she wasn’t ready. She wasn’t and she isn’t. Until she is willing to consider that she is sabotaging herself and that it isn’t that others don’t get her, she will not advance.

“This is my personality,” she told me and people need to take me the way I am.

Well, no. NO, they don’t.

It’s up to us to help others want to do what we want. It isn’t a matter of saying “do this because this is the way I am and you know I don’t mean to be demanding, rude or pushy.”

It’s just my way is not an acceptable communication pattern!

Are you rough around the edges? Do you often hear yourself saying (to yourself or others), “Well,that’s just the way I am”?

Time to change yourself.

Focus on helping them feel more comfortable around you.

Be more curious.

Love and respect them more.

Simply be more courteous.

Smooth out those rough patches. It won’t change who you are but it will change the results you get.

 

 

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Sell a Sense of Place for More Sales

When I landed in New Zealand yesterday on my way to Sydney, I phoned home to say “Kia Ora” to my husband. Three hours later, I called to wish him a “G’day mate!” Last week, working with the Meet Hawaii, I was saying “Aloha” and “Mahalo” as if I was privileged to be of Hawaiian descent.

In an attempt to provide a consistent luxury product, some of the fun of being in a place is lost. Everything turns into the Stepford wives. Bring back the fun and joy. It’s not unprofessional for an email to begin with:

G’day Mate!  Hello from beautiful Sydney!

Thank you for considering our gorgeous city for your next event. You can count on a brilliant Sydney welcome when you visit …

When appealing to international visitors, start and end with an immediate sense of place. It creates immediate emotional appeal and charm and differentiates you from those who prefer consistency over authenticity.

Do you agree?

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The One Most Important Key to Being a Great Speaker

When I was just starting out as a speaker and trainer, I joined a speakers’ association to learn from the best. It was awe inspiring to be around people who genuinely wanted you to be the best you.

 

I learned a lot from them – more than I can ever pay forward. But I may have learned more from those who wanted to remake me in their image.

 

So here is the best, most important tip I can give you:

Trust yourself. Be yourself.

Run, do not walk, from people who focus on what you shouldn’t do or be.

You should be YOU. Your best you!

One “esteemed” colleague told me “you will never make it with that NY accent”. So I tried ditching it which not only wasn’t easy, it wasn’t me. Audiences hated me because they knew I was a fake. Worse though was that I hated me because I wasn’t me.

You’ll make it by being your best self. Let your uniqueness show.

It’s okay if they know you’re nervous, because then they know you care. Show your credibility by speaking to what matters to them, and as Johnny Carson said, “Once they love you, you can get away with murder.”

Be yourself and they will love you.