The best jokes are the ones that have a bit of truth at their root. One of my favorite jokes in sales goes: What is the only preparation a salesperson does before a sales meeting? The punch line: Closes the car door. For those of us involved in selling, and in training sales people, we recognize more than a little bit of truth in this joke.
What is it that makes sales people believe that they can just “wing” their sales presentation? It is a combination of overconfidence and a perceived lack of time. Together these two factors result in a significant loss in sales opportunities. It is not the sales your team would have gotten anyways that are at risk, but the incremental sales that you lose – the sales that often determine if you just meet your sales goals or exceed them.
You can close more incremental sales by developing processes that integrate neuroscience, conversational intelligence, and DISC profiling. This makes it possible to systematically help your salespeople reduce the time it takes to prepare for a meeting and at the same time helps them focus on what is important to the person that they will meet.
What is neuroscience and how can it help your sales team?
Neuroscience is the study of how the brain and nervous system work to drive our behavior. A lot of progress has been made in the past 10 years in this field, providing us with a tiny window into our brain’s very complex functions. This window was opened by the invention of the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine (FMRI).
My first introduction to the science of the FMRI machine came in 2011 when I came into contact with a German/Israeli company, Feingold Technologies, that was using neuroscience to develop a system that could predict how a salesperson’s message would be received by a customer.
The system was developed by testing 1 million messages on persons that were placed in FMRI machines, recording which part of their brains were triggered by which types of messages. What the research discovered was that the way in which we delivered messages was the most powerful determiner of whether our message would be positively received or not. Their research produced an algorithm that could predict in real-time the effectiveness of a sales conversation.
In 1967 Albert Mehrabian, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, researched communication and theorized that the words we use only communicate 7% of our message. It is actually the tone of our voice (what the FMRI research has now confirmed) and our body language that have a greater impact in how people view and trust our communication.
Where we go wrong with our sales preparation
Most sales organizations and sales people spend all of their time on using a PowerPoint presentation as the key to communicating their message, with little to no time spent on fine-tuning their delivery. By focusing more on how to deliver the right information in the right way to our prospects, we can better engage them and move them from inaction to action.
Where does Conversational Intelligence fit into the equation?
Conversational intelligence is about adjusting your communication style based on the person you are communicating to. It is about understanding the biological and chemical triggers that drive our reaction to messages into being either positive or negative.
Conversational intelligence was selected by Inc. magazine as one of the 5 biggest business trends for 2016 because of its ability to drive better collaborative relationships. It is collaborative relationships that are driving the future of B2B sales. It is about developing with individuals the role of a “trusted advisor.” It is about moving from selling single products and services to co-creating unique and highly competitive products and services together with our clients.
How do we get there?
The key for developing a relationship where you are actively co-creating with your clients is to first understand how to reach them as individuals. Using modern profiling techniques based on the DISC personality assessment provides the framework for this.
DISC was first developed by psychologist William Moulton Marston in 1928. The framework for the four DISC types was first laid out in Marston’s book Emotions of Normal People. It is those four types that we use today to understand the dominate personality type that drives behavior. Those types are Dominance (D), Influencer (I), Steadiness (S) and Compliance (C).
For example, by sending a survey with a few business-related questions to the person you will meet, we are able to identify which one of the four types they are. Once the type is determined, it is a matter of understanding how your dominate selling style either matches or doesn’t match with the person you are meeting.
What is the result?
Your salespeople are now able to prepare on a higher level and spend less time in doing that preparation. The process is simple and straightforward, providing the sales team with key information that directs their preparation with a laser-like focus, saving them time and building their confidence. They go into a sales meeting not only understanding the needs of the customer better, but also how they should present the solutions in order to gain the client’s trust and set the groundwork for future co-creation.
Written by David Winegar
Founder and Managing Director of Absolute-North, an innovative experience-based training and development company developing people in the areas of leadership and sales.