Create a win/win situation. The sole purpose of the salesperson is to make the prospect’s life easier and better with the products and services they offer. So, when a salesperson places the interests of their customer as the top priority and takes the time to understand their needs and concerns by asking relevant questions that reveal the true pain points they are struggling with, it will show that the salesperson genuinely cares about the customer.
As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Felix Cao.
Felix has accrued over 15 years of business experience, in which nearly a decade of those years were dedicated to the tech & mobile space.
He has been featured in major media outlets, such as the HuffPost, Adweek, and AppAdvice, and has also appeared on a major Canadian morning radio show, to talk about neuromarketing and the 2019 Canadian election.
You can find him on numerous top podcasts where he shares neuromarketing insights on how businesses can grow and thrive in 2020.
Today, at his neuromarketing company called Happy Buying Brain, he is combining his 15 years of business experience with his educational background in biological science and psychology, to help businesses truly understand what makes their customers’ brains tick when it comes to better achieving customer brand loyalty over their competitors, through the power of implementing neuromarketing into their own marketing campaigns.
Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?
Sometimes the best way to explain how we got to our current situation is to reminisce on our past. A lot of these times, the journey forward from the starting point is not always paved in complete clarity. As many people would acknowledge, especially in business, things typically go differently from what we had initially envisioned. But in hindsight, all the experiences coupled with the surprising twists and turns along the journey, still add up in a sensible way to take us to where we are all currently in our lives today. I could say that my journey is a typical representation of these surprising twists and turns, but the dots still miraculously connect to bring me to where I am at today.
20 years ago, if we were to meet — you would find someone who had zero interest in business. The allure of science and psychology were the main points of interest at this stage in my life during the university years. All efforts were directed towards attending optometry school. However, an unexpected twist happened a few years down the line.
This is when the world of business entered the picture, which would change the trajectory of my vocational thoughts forever, from the medical field to the business world. From here, I was first introduced to the concept of self-employment in the investment, finance, and insurance industries. Skills that I thought I would never acquire or become a part of my daily life, such as sales and marketing, were now at the forefront of my craft to develop and hone.
After a few years in the self-employment world, I decided to get a taste of the technology space. In the early 2010’s, the mobile and apps industry was just starting to take off. I would spend nearly the next decade in this space creating everything from games to emoji apps to social networking platforms.
As I observed the trends in the past, such as how the 2000’s brought about the internet, followed by the flourishing of mobile phones in the 2010’s, I began to notice another technological revolution unfolding, and fast gaining relevance in the form of AI and VR. What is fascinating about AI and VR is that at the core of these and similar innovations is neuroscience.
At this moment, my mind started to connect the dots concerning the role that neuroscience will play in the business world. This connection had a lot to do with the belief that as AI and VR gain more popularity, so will concepts that are associated with this trend will also become more mainstream as well.
Since neuroscience is at the core of these technologies, I also believe that neuroscience can be applied to industries outside of technology and the popularization of AI and VR will be a boosting catalyst for the public to more rapidly adopt similarly related concepts.
One of the major industries that I see neuroscience disrupting is the marketing universe. Upon making this discovery, I decided to dedicate my focus to bringing neuromarketing into the conscious stream of thought and practice of the business world.
Today, it just happens that the current economic and health crisis places an even heavier emphasis on the importance of understanding the new consumer on a much deeper level, which involves evaluating the core values of the consumer on a subconscious level. This is of great importance, since up to 95% of consumer’s buying behaviors are influenced by their subconscious mind and consumers’ buying behaviors have changed drastically from what they were prior to this crisis.
I truly believe that neuromarketing will play a big part in empowering companies and brands with the insights to more authentically connect with their customers as they get accustomed to this new normal. By leveraging neuromarketing, companies are able to gain an exponentially deeper understanding of the true needs, desires and aspirations that are influencing a consumer’s buying behavior on a subconscious level. For example, brands must be even more cognizant of how they handle the current societal issues on equality, since this will have a major contributing force impacting brand loyalty as the new consumer looks to align themselves with brands that share their re-evaluated core values, due to the challenges created by the current crisis.
I feel that today’s new circumstances, combined with my educational background in science and psychology and coupled with over 15 years of business experience, provides a platform to help lead and propel neuromarketing as a winning force in business growth. This will especially appeal to companies looking to gain the competitive edge in differentiating their brand and growing their button line in the new marketplace as we head into the future in this new normal.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Business moves at a frenetic pace and the one thing constant to expect in entrepreneurship is the unexpected. This is especially true when it comes to opportunities as well, since you never know when a good opportunity may arise, and sometimes the difference between capitalizing on it or having it pass you by is missing an urgent important call. So, in order to minimize the loss of opportunities, entrepreneurs must be ready to answer that all important phone call when it arrives no matter what the circumstances are. This was certainly the case when I was waiting for such a call from a client, and when it did come through, it happened under less-than-normal circumstances.
The sound of the water in the shower drowned out the sound of the ring tone to the point that it could barely be heard, but thankfully the phone rang long enough for my ears to somehow pick it up. A few seconds later and there was a good chance that it would have resulted in a missed call. Normally if I wasn’t in the shower, I’d quickly reach for my phone to answer it.
At this specific moment however, the phone was not only several feet away, but separated by the rapid burst of cold air when you have to push the curtain aside to step out. This may have happened to you before as well, but when the call came in, I found myself scrambling to get out of the shower in order to reach my phone.
END OF STORY, RIGHT? Not exactly. When answering the phone, the reception was poor! So, to fix this problem, I quickly wrapped a towel around myself and darted to the window to get better reception at the hotel I was staying in. Eventually, the call led to the deal getting done, and that was definitely one of the most interesting and memorable business stories that came to mind, since it happened at one of the oddest places that I had ever taken a phone call.
The takeaway here is to always be ready and prepared, because opportunities can arise at any time.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
There are several exciting new projects currently in the works at the moment. The first project involves venturing into the authorship world. The new book will be about neuromarketing and it will provide the basics of this topic. So, the book will provide a great way to get people, who are curious about how neuromarketing relates to business, to have a first look at how neuromarketing can improve their marketing skills.
The second project in progress that excites me even more, and can be seen as complementary to the current book that I’m working on, is the introductory neuromarketing course. This course will shed greater insights behind the neuroscience applied to marketing in more detail than the book, and it will explain the concepts in an easy to understand fashion, so students without a background in the sciences and psychology fields, can clearly grasp the content, which in turn makes the material more actionable.
Since my neuromarketing book and course work best together, the neuromarketing book will be a good place to start, as it will provide a framework for understanding the fundamentals of neuromarketing. After reading the book, the course is a fantastic way to follow-up, as it will help reinforce many of the basics found in the book, and equip the students with a deeper understanding.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are so many people that have impacted my journey in life and in business, ranging from incredibly smart mentors to extremely talented colleagues, and of course everyone else that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. However, my parents are my biggest source of inspiration and support. I truly believe that the foundations of success and happiness start at home and at an early age. There are scientific studies that show that most of our subconscious behaviors are learned within the first few years of our lives. The world is a really complex place, so just think about the many rules and standards a child needs to learn just to operate as an efficient member within their own family to begin with.
During these early years, we are primarily observing and recording the actions and behaviors of others around us, and for most people, we are learning these behavior patterns from our parents, which we will later exhibit in our adult life whether they are present or away from us. So, what we observe during early childhood becomes recorded in our subconscious minds to form the foundation of a blueprint in terms of how to behave in society.
This is not to say that people cannot change, (if their childhood is less than ideal or missing essential parental guidance early in their lives), since other factors such as experience and culture also play major roles in molding an individual’s behavior. However, in order to have a long-lasting change in behavior, it is important to understand the potential sources of certain behavior traits.
My parents were forced to flee for their lives when the Vietnam war started. They came over as immigrants in their teens to a foreign country with only the clothes on their backs in the middle of winter, and without any connections here in Canada. They had no comprehension of English, and they were pregnant with their first child. Despite all these challenges, they were still able to provide a loving home as well as all the necessities their growing children needed. When I compare the challenges that my parents had to go through and conquer starting at such an early age, it’s truly inspirational to see that they were still able to accomplish so many great things, despite living in a foreign country. I am definitely grateful for their work ethic, wisdom, and sheer will to make things happen in spite of challenging times. Attributes like these are contagious and worth emulating.
For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?
In my opinion, an authority is someone who displays strong competency in their craft and also has the ability to manage and inspire other people in their industry to level up their knowledge by sharing helpful actionable tips with their cohorts, so that the industry as a whole can serve more people.
Personally, I’ve been in business and sales for over 15 years and have had the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds that have created 8 or 9-figure businesses. During this period, the knowledge that was passed on enabled me to do a significant amount in sales in the B2B and B2C space. Equipped with this knowledge, I look forward to transferring it to other entrepreneurs, by helping them in their journey to help more people.
This mission has been realized by appearing on some of the top sales podcasts in 2020, where insightful tips are shared on how the consumer brain works in relation to sales. There are also in-depth articles and blog posts that I’ve written on how neuromarketing is changing how companies do business today that can be found on popular blogs. In addition, I’ve had the privilege of being featured on the HuffPost, Adweek, and several other major publications that speak on business and sales related topics.
The ultimate goal of an authority is to find ways to serve the most people possible and continue to share their knowledge to progress the craftsmanship of their industry, so that the industry can continue to help more people in the most productive ways.
Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The effects of the pandemic have certainly created a lot of turbulence and disorder in the lives of people today. As a result, many people are feeling lost, alone and unsupported during this pandemic. This means that people are looking for ways to bring stability, control, and a sense of calmness back into their lives to combat the heightened feelings of uncertainty and loneliness.
One of the best ways to offer support to anxious loved ones during these uncertain times, is to be a leader. This ability to lead during hard times is invaluable, since most people are looking for guidance on how to operate in this new normal. Under these circumstances, leadership can come in the form of taking the initiative to connect with loved ones, whether it occurs virtually or meeting in-person. This provides the emotional support that many people crave, especially when the physical separating effects of social distancing can make them feel isolated and unsupported.
Another way that we can offer support to family and friends is to keep the lines of communication open. There are a lot of things happening in people’s lives right now that are impacting them on all levels (emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally). By having open and meaningful conversations with loved ones, it can help alleviate a lot of the stress and anxiety when they know that there are people around who care about them and are present to support them. It’s a delicate and fragile time in most people’s lives right now, and the privilege of having a strong support system, can be the real difference maker in restoring stability into the lives of our loved ones.
There also is a correlation between physical health and mental health, so encouraging our loved ones to participate in consistent physical activities can not only improve their physical and mental health, but can also provide great opportunities to be more social.
Finally, it’s important to show that you care about your loved ones and to assure them that you are there to support them in any way that is needed. This means that showcasing the ability to be inspirational, kind, understanding and courageous are key factors in providing support to help our loved ones persevere during this pandemic. Of course, this goes both ways, since business leaders are humans too and need support from their loved ones.
Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versatile topics, is totally ignored?
I believe that the main reason the subject of sales is largely ignored in the education system, is because the sales process is dynamic and the foundation of successful selling is rooted in strong communication skills. When examining effective communication carefully, it can be found that it goes beyond the words that are said in a conversation.
Studies have indicated that communication consists of up to as much as 93% of non-verbal cues. Therefore, the power of the message exists mostly in the non-verbal components of communication, such as body language, tone of voice, eye contact, and other forms of physical contact and distancing. It appears that the topic of measuring and grading these non-verbal behaviors in the classroom, can present certain challenges that have not yet been addressed for proper implementation of teaching and grading such a subject.
In sales, the ability to read and interpret the non-verbal cues coming from the customer plays a huge part in a salesperson’s success, since a myriad of personalities and emotional states can enter into the sales conversation. It therefore provides an idea of how to approach specific situations that involve dealing with different types of customers. This means that a template solution cannot be applied to all sales interactions. The great variability in non-verbal signs and how to interpret these clusters of cues, can be a contributing factor that poses a challenge for the education system to teach and transfer such knowledge to students.
In addition to the non-verbal side of communication, the spoken language is also very complex since there are many ways to express ideas, in which certain ways of verbal expressions are more effective than others. The ability to teach students to choose the right words to use in the most relevant context can be difficult as there are a plethora of word choices to select from. When the choice of wording is coupled with which non-verbal cues to use together in order to create the most powerful form of communication with the prospect, the possibilities cover a wide spectrum of options.
For example, using the right words but matched with the incorrect tone of voice could still result in the sales message getting lost in translation and leaving the customer confused or possibly offended by what the salesperson intended to communicate.
In sales interactions, the conversation is dynamic; calling for certain types of communication to be displayed at specific moments in order to build trust, confidence and rapport with the customer. To be great at sales, is to be an effective communicator of ideas. Without the ability to communicate effectively, a salesperson cannot lead and inspire customers to open their minds to understand how their products or services will transform their lives for the better.
This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?
In sales, coming across as too overwhelming or too needy is rarely beneficial to either the salesperson or the prospect. However, it’s important to note that sales is a dynamic process that has many different variables which can affect the interaction between a salesperson and a customer. The success of a sales conversation has more to do with knowing what and when to implement certain approaches.
For example, always pressing forward and going at full speed during the sales interaction is rarely the most effective way to connect with the customer, since this type of approach may make the prospect feel rushed and overwhelmed.
Moving at a slow and passive pace on the other hand, can be counterproductive as well, since this pace may irritate and create a lot of annoyance in an impatient person. So, there are times when moving at certain speeds works the best for specific moments within the sales conversation. Sometimes, the call for being proactive is needed to move the conversation forward in a respectful way. While at other times, the best thing to do is to slow down and allow the customer time to digest all the information.
The other component that greatly influences whether a specific approach is considered too “salesy” or “pushy” is the personality of the prospect. Some prospects are go-getters and they prefer to move forward as quickly as possible, while others can be more methodical where they need time to think through everything before they make a decision. So, in the example above, a more forward and proactive approach would work perfectly with the go-getter type of customer, but the same approach can come across as too “salesy” or “pushy” for the methodical type of customer.
The best technique for someone in sales is to have the ability to shift gears and relate with their customers, so that they can employ the proper sales approach depending on the situation.
The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?
I believe that my greatest strength during the sales process lies at the closing stage, since this stage is seen by most people as the most important. Although every stage is certainly vital in leading up to the conclusion of the sale, the ability to close the sale is the area that many salespeople struggle with but has the greatest ROI. So, when someone develops the ability to effectively close a sale, this is considered a tremendous asset to possess.
When it’s time to close, there are 3 crucial components to have in place.
The first component relies on the fact that the salesperson has already established strong rapport with the prospect in the form of a trusting relationship, where the customer feels comfortable and confident that the salesperson is serving them in the customer’s best interest. This ultimately means that the prospect is fully confident that the salesperson can deliver on their promise of providing the solution to their pain points.
The second component is the ability to create curiosity. On a neuroscience level, when curiosity is created, this stimulates the neurotransmitter called dopamine to be released in the brain. The release of dopamine contributes to feelings of motivation and pleasure, which are powerful drivers that a brand wants their products and services to be associated with.
The third component is future pacing. This involves tapping into the imagination of the prospect and helping them create a captivating and transforming future where they see their lives become significantly better after they buy a company’s product or service.
From experience, these 3 components play a powerful role in the closing stage of the sales process, if done correctly.
Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
The fundamentals of having a strong lead generation strategy is founded in a company’s ability to clearly identify their ideal customer avatar. It’s important for a business to understand their ideal customer audience from the point of view of the demographics and the psychographics that make up their archetype consumer. This type of deep insight will enable companies to discover the true pain points that their customers are struggling with.
From here, companies will be in a better position to create products and services that address these pain points and empower their customers with the ability to transform into the best versions of themselves. Also, having a clear idea on who their ideal customer avatar is becomes central to helping a brand craft a vision and mission statement that creates an emotional connection with their customers.
When a company has clarity in terms of its purpose and what it represents, then it can use this knowledge as a springboard to communicate its value as the ultimate solution to the challenges of their customers, so that the lives of their customers becomes better and easier as a result of buying the company’s products or services.
Another benefit of having a clearly identified customer avatar ensures that businesses can match up their audience channels with the appropriate marketing strategies, so that their brand gains visibility with the right customers in the most relevant locations where they are found. This type of positioning allows brands to use the most effective strategies that will resonate the best with their ideal audience.
In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?
In my opinion, some of the biggest reasons that people find handling objections so hard are rooted in fear and doubt.
When confronted with an objection, the shockwave of fear can overwhelm many people in sales. The source of this fear can come from many different things, but they more often than not, stem from uncertainty and doubt. Therefore, some common ways that fear manifests itself within the psyche of the salesperson can take the form of following:
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of not knowing enough and uncertainty about what to do about it
- Fear of failure
- Fear of being too pushy and aggressive
- Fear of tension
- Fear of the unknown
All of these fears and doubts can result in analysis paralysis, where the salesperson either avoids the handling objection phase entirely or freezes in the moment of addressing these objections. As a consequence, salespeople can start to experience “imposter syndrome” where they begin to feel that they lack the competence to deliver on their promises, whether this is accurate or not.
There are however several ways to combat the debilitating effects of fear and doubt and abolish the imposter syndrome.
The first way is to take a rational approach to the situation. The feelings associated with fear and doubt are emotional, which means that sometimes these feelings and thoughts can be irrational. By choosing to see the situation from a logical perspective, salespeople can remove the irrational elements that come with emotions so that they can see circumstances from a much clearer and level-headed point of view.
One rational method involves using the Benjamin Franklin close, where the salesperson creates a list of all the pros and cons of handling objections, and then eliminates the untrue statements. More often than not, the salesperson will arrive at a list that reveals a longer list of pros than cons, where they can consciously realize that these fears and doubts were illusions playing tricks on their minds.
Another factor that works in overcoming fear is understanding that 98% of things people worry about almost never happens. So, salespeople can use this information to properly prepare for handling objections by focusing on what will most likely happen during this process with the prospect, rather than wasting energy on things that have a low probability of occurring.
Also, every person has had some degree of success in terms of overcoming challenges, regardless of how big or small they are. It’s important for salespeople, whether they are experienced or new to sales, to always remember the times when they were faced with a challenge that they thought was too overwhelming and still succeeded. The key here is for the salesperson to transfer this confidence and self-belief into their sales profession, so that they become empowered with the mental fortitude to perform at their best during the handling objection phase, as well as all the stages of the sales process.
In final thoughts, the success of the salesperson lies in their perception of the definition of what an objection means. If an objection is seen as a request for more information, then it will be much easier for the salesperson to continue to deliver value and support, to create a trusting relationship with the customer and help bring them one step closer to buying.
‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.
The process of closing a sale is more of an art rather than a science. Very rarely does a sales conversation progress through all the typical stages in a sequential manner, without revisiting certain stages in a random manner prior to closing.
So, the ability to close a sale requires a salesperson to effectively handle this juggling of movement between the different stages, by having a clear understanding of what strategies and approaches to apply and at what time. This means that the salesperson needs to know when to be proactive in moving the conversation forward while at other times, know when to ease off the gas pedal and take a more relaxed approach to allow the customer to settle in. The key is to create a relationship with the customer that applies the right amount of movement so that the customer is guided through the sales process in a trustful and respectful fashion.
The analogy is similar to walking a tightrope: If the salesperson is too pushy, then the customer will feel cornered and ultimately, the sale will be lost. However, if the salesperson is also too passive and does not properly guide the customer through the sales cycle, then the opportunity to close the sale will be nonexistent or the salesperson may lose the sale because they are too afraid to close.
There needs to be a balance between the push and pull process in sales. The middle ground is assertiveness. The following are the various ways an assertive salesperson can close a sale:
#1 — Create a win/win situation
The sole purpose of the salesperson is to make the prospect’s life easier and better with the products and services they offer. So, when a salesperson places the interests of their customer as the top priority and takes the time to understand their needs and concerns by asking relevant questions that reveal the true pain points they are struggling with, it will show that the salesperson genuinely cares about the customer.
Once the customer feels that their needs are taken care of, then they will be a lot more willing and happier to exchange their money in return for the salesperson’s solution to their problems. This creates a win/win situation based on reciprocity where both the salesperson and the customer come out as winners. When this type of relationship is carried out correctly, it also results in happier customers who are less likely to leave negative reviews or ask for a refund, and instead are more likely to turn into repeat customers.
#2 — Keep an open mind and stay curious
Often during the closing stage, the prospect may ask additional questions that may feel like they are using them as a way to resist the final step of closing the sale. This is the perfect time to start probing into these objections, since it can create another opening to close the deal by identifying an underlying issue that’s more important to the customer and needs solving. New objections can also reveal opportunities to add extra value to the customer through a relevant upsell.
By keeping an open mind and remaining in a curious state about how a salesperson can help the customer, the resulting effect is a nimble and fluid approach to sales that empowers the salesperson to identify new underlying opportunities that may not have been discovered if the salesperson was too fixated on a particular route to the outcome.
#3 — Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. Use future pacing.
On many occasions, the sale is lost because the salesperson is too afraid to ask for the closing of the sale. This is tragic, since all the hard work that brought the sales conversation to the finale becomes wasted. Instead, the salesperson should eliminate as much friction in this error as possible by increasing the chances that the customer will say “yes” when the salesperson asks for the sale.
One way to achieve this, is to use future pacing to pull the customer in and get them captivated on how much better their life could be once they own the company’s product or experience their outstanding service. Customers part ways with their money when the solution they receive delivers the desired outcome to them. So, if a salesperson is able to paint a happier future for the customer as soon as they are in ownership of the solution, this will then increase likelihood of the customer to agree to the sale. By increasing the chances that the customer will say “yes” to the deal, the salesperson feels less pressure and this approach may also reduce the anxiety that comes from the fear of failure. From here, the salesperson is in a better state to ask for the sale.
#4 — Detach yourself from the outcome
This may sound counterintuitive, but when the salesperson detaches themselves from the outcome of closing the sale, they are in a better position to focus on serving the customer instead of getting caught up in all the emotions that come with completing a sale, such as the competition and compensation that can result from the sales process.
When the salesperson focuses solely on serving their customer and in turn, the customer feels that the salesperson has their best interest in mind, then the customer is more likely to trust and do business with the salesperson.
#5 — Take Your Time
This is probably the biggest takeaway when it comes to closing a sale. When the sales process is rushed, the customer may be under a lot of pressure to buy and the salesperson can come across as being too pushy and aggressive. The last thing a salesperson wants to do is make the customer feel like they are nothing more than a transaction.
So, by slowing down and taking the time to serve the customer, the salesperson is able to build a relationship with the customer where they use the time to understand the pain points the customer is struggling with and properly guide them through the sales process. When the salesperson sees time as their ally, they will be in a better position to show that they genuinely care about the customer’s challenges and that the salesperson is a trustworthy expert that can deliver on their promise to the customer.
Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?
Effective Follow up is an absolutely critical part of the sale process. Without a strategic and clear framework for following up with prospects, consistent sales will be nearly impossible. This is because following up is the bridge that connects the salesperson with the prospect on an emotional and intellectual level, and brings them into the buying state where the prospect will fully trust the salesperson to move forward with the deal.
During the follow up process, the goal of the salesperson should be to start establishing the foundations of a caring and trustworthy relationship with the prospect.
The first step towards establishing this type of relationship is for the salesperson to be 100% focused on making the life of each customer better by helping them solve their problems. This means that each follow up should be seen as an opportunity to provide more value to the customer, so that it helps them move one step closer to making a decision. By serving as a resource of help for the customer during this process, business leaders can continue to build more trust and confidence with their customers, where they are viewed as the expert with the deep industry knowledge and caring attitude to deliver the results needed to eliminate the prospect’s pain points.
More specifically, intelligent follow up aims to treat the customer interaction as a more than just a transaction, but a real relationship. This type of relationship includes timely follow ups containing valuable information, as well as next steps or action items, so that the prospect knows what to expect going forward. By treating the follow up process as a cornerstone to building a strong relationship with the customer, the salesperson is demonstrating that they have a clear understanding of the customer’s challenges and that they are there solely for the interest of the customer.
The final piece of masterful follow up is consistency. Nearly half of salespeople give up on the sale after the first follow up. The reality is that 80% of sales can take at least 5 or more follow ups before the sale is closed. The consistent follow ups also show that the salesperson is willing to take the time to work through any potential problems, which eliminates the real fear that most customers have experienced where they have been abandoned when they needed help after the sale was made.
Every follow up should be viewed as a way to demonstrate continuous value and support for the success of the customer by clearly showing that the salesperson is willing to invest the time and resources in order to create a trustworthy relationship with the customer, with the ultimate goal of making their lives better by solving their challenges.
When the customer feels that they are being cared for and that their best interests are at the forefront of the relationship, then they feel very safe and comfortable in going ahead with the deal, without the pressures of being overwhelmed by a needy salesperson during the follow up process.
As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?
The way that we communicate today has drastically changed over the last decade. A huge reason for this has a lot to do with the rapid advances in technology coupled with the current crisis. So, doing business in this new normal has created a new standard for how companies effectively communicate with their clients and consumers.
With the introduction of mobiles phones, brands have the ability to connect with their audience around the clock. The same is also true in sales when it comes to the ability to follow up or close a sale with potential prospects.
Written communication, such as email and text messaging, are great ways to keep in touch with prospects and are very effective at staying top of mind during the nurturing process, especially at moments of following up. This mode of communication allows salespeople to maximize their time efficiently when more direct points of contact are not necessary, but still enables them to handle minor situations, such as a question that a customer may have, which can be answered with a quick and short written message.
For more important matters that require a deeper conversation between the salesperson and the prospect, the most powerful mode of communication is having the conversation in-person, over a video call, or on the phone — in that order, in terms of effectiveness. Since nonverbal cues, such as body language, tone of voice and facial expressions, all have such a huge impact on how messages are interpreted, it’s important for all these nonverbal cues to align with the verbal cues in order to effectively deliver thoughts and ideas clearly to the prospect. When the interaction occurs visually and auditorily, the salesperson also has the ability to clearly understand where the prospect is coming from on both a cognitive and emotional level.
So, when it comes to handling situations that demand more attention and top priorities, such as closing the sale, using modes of communication that engage as many of the 5 main senses as possible, are the most powerful to ensure that the core messaging behind the conversation does not get lost or misinterpreted.
This is often the case in written communication, where certain aspects of the written message can become misunderstood and cause confusion due to the absence of visual and auditory cues. When the conversation takes place in-person or over video call, it creates an optimized, memorable, and tangible experience for both the salesperson and the customer. In sales, the power of touch, such as a reassuring handshake, can make all the difference since this is a strong sign of trust or agreement between the salesperson and the prospect.
However, due to the current crisis, sometimes meeting in-person is not a viable option. In situations such as these, video calls can then be effective since it offers some of the tangible benefits of doing an in-person meeting.
All these types of communication have their strengths and weaknesses based on where a prospect is at in their sales cycle. Factors such as time and resources must be considered when choosing which mode of communication is best to use. When the different modes of communication are used strategically and in a balanced way, the salesperson is better able to position him or herself as the expert in helping the prospect solve their problems efficiently.
For more urgent and higher priority objectives, in-person meetings, chatting over video calls or on the phone, are most powerful since they engage the 5 main senses and ensure that the crux of the conversation is clearly understood by all parties involved. In situations dealing with minor issues, then written communication will suffice and is often very effective as well.
Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
At this moment, there is so much unrest and civil discord around the world. The most important movement would involve spreading the message of unity. I believe one of the best ways to galvanize this movement is to place unrelenting emphasis on the importance of empathy, compassion, and having an open mind towards understanding the many different perspectives that seem to be at the core of the fragmentation currently seen in today’s societal construct.
We all belong to the same human race, therefore in order for us to successfully progress as a society, it will be absolutely necessary for our species to work together. The world is a complex system, and humans are just one element in this mastery of work. So, not only is it crucial for humans to work together to move forward as a species, it is also crucial to work in harmony with all the other elements that make this ecosystem, such as solving environmental issues, in order for the planet and its inhabitants to thrive.
When considering all the discord that is occurring on so many levels, we discover that times like these call for strong and innovative leadership from people who genuinely care about others, and are driven by the ultimate goal to create a global vibrant community that serves to move society in a positive direction. My inspiration is that this spark of empathy ignites a movement of global unity and equality.
How can our readers follow you online?
Connect with me on LinkedIn @FelixCao where I share the most recent news on the latest trends, as well as insights on neuromarketing that businesses can use to advance their marketing efforts and boost the ROI on their campaigns.
Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!