HANDLING DISCOVERY CALLS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF MINDSET
This blog is based on an interview between Alex Cottoni (Copy Posse) and David Neagle and Steph Tuss of the multi-million dollar global training company – Life Is Now, Inc.
Alex gets to have some really interesting conversations with really interesting people. This is my expression of what was said. And as always, with thanks to Alex. If you haven't already, check her out and follow her, see https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexcattoni/.
You can see Alex’s video here https://youtu.be/i8Kw699zXo4
The subject of the interview was the mindset behind a successful sales call. Sales calls are something that many entrepreneurs dread. Especially in the early days when you are discovering that the skill set you are offering into the world (what you know and love doing) and marketing it are two completely different skill sets. Both of which are essential if you want to be successful. I’m sure every entrepreneur has clocked at some point that they need to up their marketing and communication.
You might ask, “I’ve sent an email, do I have to do a sales call too?” Well, yes. And there is no side stepping that (as I know to my cost).
Also, as is so often the case, these principles of sales and marketing are not exclusive to the domain of sales and marketing. They are life principles, and getting to grips with them, and the mindset behind them, will enhance your life journey.
So, to the mindset behind successful sales calls. After all, they say, “Entrepreneurship is 90% mindset.” If you get this one wrong, you’re in trouble from the start.
THE DECISION PRECEDES THE HOW
Decision making is a key life skill. It is a key driver, setting the course of our life journey. Yet, despite its significance, we are seldom taught these skills. We are not taught how to decide, how to evaluate, how to commit to a decision. Like most life skills, we do the best we can with what we have as it comes up.
Most people have a default stance of wanting to go through life not wanting to make too much trouble, nor make too many mistakes. Tiptoe through life, hoping to make it safely to death. This mindset leads to wanting to know ‘how’ before you make a decision - after all, you might make a mistake, or do it wrong, or get judged. You end up making a decision based on a ‘how’ that you probably know very little about.
Yet - our most powerful attribute is the ability to choose. Our life path is determined by the choices we make. Better to make the decision first, then figure out the how. When you do this, the how tends to fall in line. There is power in making the decision. Make the decision and start. Once you have started, you have real data, and then you can make more decisions based on that data.
I NEED THIS PROSPECT TO SAY “YES”
Often in sales calls, we have the mindset ‘I really need this person to say yes to me’. However, it is better to go into a sales conversation with the mindset, ‘How can I get this person to make a decision that will serve us both?’
For that to happen, you need to be in a place of confidence and belief in yourself. But, what do you do if you don’t have that belief, or don't think you are worthy of that success? Is there a strategy to handle this?
If you have the desire for something then you are worth that desire. If you weren’t, most likely, the desire would not be there. How do you get over the fear of taking action towards that desire? Well, you don’t. You can’t. You can’t intellectualise your way out of fear. You just do it anyway, just take that action - especially that thing you have been resisting.
There will never come a time when you are fully ready. You have all of the knowledge, the confidence, the ability to make a start. We are so good at telling ourselves why we are not ready. Rubbish. Right now is a good time. Just do it, and you’ll learn and grow as you go. Otherwise it will forever remain in the future. Wait for ‘I’ll do it when I am ready’ and it will never happen. Just do it now.
There is another way to look at this. David talks about the Law of Polarity. You can’t have things one sided. Everything has its opposite. Life is not one sided. If I have needs and desires, and I think that I don’t deserve those things - that is fundamentally false. It is the consequence of someone else's belief system that I am placing on myself. The actuality is that if I have the desire for something, I have all that is necessary. The catch is that you have to make that decision, make that commitment, then the rest of it will fall into place.
We all have fear. But we also have the solution - courage. Yet, courage doesn’t just fall on our head out of the blue. Our decision to go for it allows that courage to happen or materialise. Courage is a consequence of the decision to step up and make that decision.
Let’s look more specifically at sales conversations. Many people find them scary. Many people find them hard. Many people find communicating a business concept hard. Yet, to start a business and grow it you have to get to grips with this. Are there any strategies or tools can we use?
Yes. One strategy is to take control of the conversation from the very beginning. A common mistake is to show up and try to make the situation comfortable, rather than taking control of the situation. Eg, “Hi, how are you, what’s the weather like…” It leaves the other person not knowing who is in control. When you start a call, immediately say what the call is about, and start with the first question.
That tells the other person you know what you are doing, you have it under control, they don’t need to think about what and how they want to say. They can relax into the conversation. If you don’t do this it is easy for the conversation to get woolly and go somewhere else.
When preparing for a sales call, a common question is, “What questions should I ask?” But, let’s think about something that comes before that. It will really help you, the sales person, to understand why you are asking these questions. Everything you say, every sound, every question, every assertion causes a reaction in that prospect‘s mind. You have little control over that. In life, most people show up and are reactionary to most things - and they don’t even know they are reacting.
As sales people, we already have that psychology working in our favour. Generally, if I ask you a question, you don’t think, “Should I answer this question?” Rather you think, “How am I going to answer this question?” So in essence we are already working together. The process started before the call began, with the agreement to have the call.
In terms of what questions you should ask, after you have set the context of the conversation as we looked at above, in essence, you want to ask the questions that set up the answers that you want to hear.
Basically, there are only a handful of questions. And, remember the specifics around every situation, every prospect, every call or meeting will be different. So, here we are talking about general principles. Also, Alex is a copywriter, so the context is around copywriting.
#1 - WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT (AND WHY DO YOU WANT IT)?
Stay with that question until you tap into the emotional desire behind it. It does not matter what you are selling. 99% of the time, people buy out of emotion. Even if it is something that they need.
So, sticking to this question until you get that answer is a number one imperative. Why? Because you are wanting them to sell themselves. The essence of a sales call is to get them to arrive at a yes or no - not to get them to do anything.
If you can get them to say, “Hey, this is what I want, and this is why I want it”, that is a winner. Nothing you could ever say to convince will be that effective. It sets up a pillar of truth in the conversation. They are unlikely to go back on that, and say, “Actually, I don’t want that”.
The answer to the question ‘why’ usually comes out of this discussion.
#2 WHY DO YOU BELIEVE YOU’RE NOT GETTING IT?
It won’t be relevant in all cases. But it enables you to get some kind of idea on how their head works. If you ask that question, and they immediately launch into blaming someone else, or some other thing, it is indicative of being a victim (... and maybe you might want to back off.) If anything at all goes wrong the blame finger will get pointed your way.
If instead they reply with answers like, “I don’t know what I'm doing, or I don’t know enough yet”. That is a completely different perspective. These two perspectives will be very different to actually work with, should you make the decision to do so. You don’t need to do much with that answer, but it gives you a lot of information.
Understanding their headspace better allows you to fine tune your approach.
#3 WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T GET THIS?
There is a consequence to this decision of saying yes or no. In bringing awareness to this answer you automatically bring in the urgency of that decision. Hopefully they will tell you why it is important to them that they get what you are offering or providing.
#4 HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU ABOUT THE RESULT?
At this point what happens next depends on the person and the conversation. Ideally, you could get them to buy into the decision a little bit more, with something like, “How serious are you about the result?” Or you could approach it by asking how excited they are about the result. Both achieve the same end, and you can select the appropriate way.
No small talk, no discussion outside of this. It is honed to get to that yes or no answer.
Alex is a copywriter, so her context is in relation to copywriting - but it could be anything. Consider, when you ask the question, “What do you want?”, the answer might be something like, “Copywriting and 6 emails.” How do you get to the emotion that under pins this?
Steph gives a great answer. She tells us that she would dig deeper. Why do they need those 6 emails? What is it that they are wanting to accomplish? What has stopped them in the past from having someone deliver those 6 emails? What results have they had in the past that they don’t like? Continue to ask clarifying questions until you get to the heart of what the concern or want is.
Writing the six emails isn’t really what they want. They want to be able to hand over the task to someone else. They want to know the writer can speak in the business’s voice. They want someone to depend on. It is inevitably a way bigger conversation than just, “I need 6 emails.”
Your job as a salesperson is to help them get clarity on what it is that they actually want.
Remember, people often don’t know what they want. They might think that they only want six emails and a sales page. But you drill down into it, and it is something very different that they are really looking for.
You need to ask the right questions so that both of you can arrive at clarity as to what they want. Another consequence of doing this, is that you display to the potential customer that you understand way more than just copywriting.
It is a human thing, and we all do it. What we say we want is often not what we actually want. And, often we don’t even know what it is that we want. How do you know what you want? And, even if you do know what you want, on what grounds should you be wanting that, and will it be right for you? Rabbit hole.
People often want something that will get them to the next stage or level in their life, or business or whatever it is. But they might have a conflict with that process. For example, they tell you that they want copy so they can reach their goals and targets. You tell them what the price is, and they think they can’t afford that, it’s too expensive. People usually interpret that as a money problem. It isn’t a money problem. It is an urgency problem. If the urgency is there to do it, value will trump cost.
The classic example here is, “If someone you dearly loved was dying, and you needed a certain amount of money to save them”. Would you simply say, “Nah, sorry, too expensive,” and leave it there? Or would you do whatever it takes to get the money to save them? If it is really, really urgent, you would do pretty much anything to raise that money to save that person you love. The point is - it is not a money issue, it is an urgency issue.
When we are talking about not having the money to advance yourself, it becomes a question of how much do you value yourself, and your own progress. You end up with, “I don’t deserve this better thing that will advance me.”
This is so common in this sales environment (and life). It comes from their core wound, that something in their past that they continually reflect on that tells them that they are not enough. Or from taking on board someone else's beliefs and opinions.
But here is an opportunity to get this something that will enable them to do amazing things. It may well be expensive, in either money or in time. If they don’t think they are good enough to do it, then the perception will be that the problem has more weight than the moving forward.
At this point in the sales call, the discussion around price, when they say, “That is too much”, it is easy to simply shrug, and think, “Okay, it’s too expensive for them. I’m going to just move on…” But this discussion around value conflict is a way to lean into this one a bit more. In exactly the same way that there is a difference between what they say they want and what they actually want, there is a difference between them saying it is too expensive, and the real reason they don’t want to move forward. This issue of the value they place on what they want ties directly back to the why - why do they want that thing they want?
Equally, there is the issue of you the copywriter, or whatever service you are offering, believing that you are worth the price being discussed.
Human interaction is complicated and to really navigate communication, you need a way to get beneath what is being said - in both the person you are communicating with and yourself. Yep, humans are complicated. But this gives the sales person a handle on what the real problem is, and from that, a way to solve it.
Bear in mind also, throughout this, it’s called a discovery call for a reason. There may be a fundamental misalignment between what they are genuinely wanting, and what you are offering. As a sales person of integrity, it is important to recognise this. It is better to voice this and part ways than to try to push through a misalignment. Even if you really need that client. Honouring integrity is more important.
And if the answer is ‘no’, it is quite okay for you to ask for the reason why they are saying no. Not in a confrontational way, but to better understand. Often, though, the reason they are saying no is that there is some obstacle that they don’t know how to overcome. Our job at that moment is to winkle out that underlying obstacle and help them solve it.
There is another slant to this. People generally don’t like saying, ‘no’. They end up making white-lie excuses, rather than being up front and simply saying, “No thank you”. Maybe they just don’t like you and don’t want to work with you. You need to be able to recognise these nuances. And as with any other skill, it develops with practice.
So, as a beginner entrepreneur, acting with a salesperson-hat on, is there a way to reframe your head to be more successful in a sales conversation?
Definitely. Remember that this conversation is about the prospect, and serving them, supporting them, helping them. It’s not about us. This shifts the energy. You move from a place of ‘getting’ to a place of ‘giving’. Your role as a salesperson is to be helpful, to bring clarity to a confused mind, to help them reach a decision that is good for them. That decision might be to work with you. Equally it might not.
It is significant to know what is going on, to understand these psychological principles. But, you can talk about your issues, and your self-limiting beliefs until the cows come home. Nothing will change until you create a new experience. And the only way to create a new experience is to create a new behaviour. Thinking about it won’t do it. Taking action will.
Remember, in general, you can’t read the books, get the advice, get your mindset in the right place - then immediately start doing it successfully. You need to start where you are, and progress from there, learn as you go, and practice. You can’t wait until your mindset is ready before starting. If you do that you will never start. You will never ‘be ready’. You need to start anyway.
Take action, even if you are not fully ready. It is through taking action that you will gain experience, you will learn and you will become ready. When you contemplate your own lack of experience, and because of that, take no action … that squashes everything. No learning can come out of that. Experience cannot develop from that. Worst of all, you stay where you are. Take messy and imperfect action, learn from that, hone that, and over time expertise develops. All of life is a learning journey.
There is another perspective when evaluating a prospect’s answers and mindset. Entrepreneurs, especially successful ones, often have a need to be right. This can be very detrimental. A useful tip here is to say something like, “We need to shift that value to the truth, and value truth more than anything else. Even if it means confirming that we were wrong. That is the only way to make the changes necessary in order to get the results we want.” This is a value shift. It can also be a value conflict.
Sometimes the hard truth runs something along the lines of, “I keep making this same mistake. I keep getting these same results that I don’t want - and I’m unwilling to look at what is causing this, which is me.” It takes a brave soul to look in the mirror, recognise that truth, voice it, then take steps to do something about it. We could probably all take a lesson from that. Not just in business or sales calls, but in life.
If I can help or if you would like to discuss any of these principles and techniques, call me.
Dale.Spence@GenesisGRC.co.uk / www.GenesisGRC.co.uk / 0777 560 4378