Displaying Products can Increase Sales

Did you now that simply displaying your products increases your sales close rate.

Article – Nod Your Way to More Information

victor antonio sales trainer atlanta georgia

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

Any salesperson will tell you that in order to increase your chances of getting the sale you have to know everything about the sale and what’s going in the background. Much like the Wizard of Oz, we as salespeople need to know how the decision is being driven by the people behind the green curtain.

Let’s go back to the premise that the best salespeople are usually the best listeners and analyze more closely why that might be so. We’ve all know that person who was able to squeeze out more information from a prospect and we’re left wondering how.

One study in particular may provide us with a clue of why that might be so. Research conducted on human behavior has revealed that using a head nod encourages the other person to talk. It’s our way of saying, “Go ahead, you’ve got the floor.” It has also been shown that by simply nodding your head in intervals encourage the other person to speak. Another study showed that individuals will talk three to four times longer just by encouraging them with repeated head nods.

Allen Pease in his book, “The Definitive Book of Body Language” took it one step further by putting together a formidable one-two punch for priming and pumping the prospect for more information. “After you’ve asked a question and the listener gives his answer, nod your head during the answer. When he finishes speaking continue to nod your head another five times at the rate of about one nod per second. Usually, by the time you have counted to four, the listener will begin speaking again and give you more information.” To further encourage the prospect to speak, stroke your chin in an evaluative way. This signals the prospect that you are listening intently and would like to hear more.

The psychology of why this works is rooted in need to satiate our ego and validate ourselves to others. When you’re listening intently and agreeing with what the speaker is saying, you are validating what there are saying. That validation is hard wire to their ego (i.e., their need to demonstrate their authority on the subject) and helps their self-esteem. When self-esteem rises, the speaker is ‘embolden’ to continue to pontificate or share information. The person speaking gets a good feeling when others listen and care about what they have to say. The attention paid to them further encourages them to keep speaking which is why they can’t keep themselves from talking.

The next time you’re speaking with a client, try encouraging them to speak with repeated head nods. When you ask a question, go silent and wait for them to start speaking. When they start talking, encourage them to continue on by adding in some frequent head nods and some pensive stroking of the chin for good measure. So you see, not only are the best salespeople in the world good listeners, they’ve also master the art of nodding their heads and stroking their chins!

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence
“Finding the Why in (How People) Buy”

Copyright © 2009 by Victor Antonio – Atlanta, Georgia GA. All rights reserved. This article MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body. All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com.

Article: Unlock the Ankles, Unlock the Sale

victor antonio sales trainer atlanta georgia

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

In sales we’re always looking for a way to tell whether or not our prospect is telling us everything. Sometimes a prospect is holding back a vital piece of information and is reluctant to tell the salesperson for fear that it may be used against him.

For example, if the prospect has already made a buying decision, and it isn’t from you, then he will want to hold that information from you so you won’t try to convince him otherwise. It’s only later on when you get back to your office and receive a voicemail or email telling you that the prospect has decided to go with someone else. If you only knew then and there you may have had a chance to change the prospect’s mind. Sometimes the prospect is holding back reasons why he won’t make a buying decision because he doesn’t see the point in bringing it up. He may want a lower price but feels that it’ll be pointless to negotiate with the salesperson. He may want to buy the product on terms, but thinks your company doesn’t offer financing options.

Whatever the case, prospects often hold back from telling us the things we as salespeople need to know in order to better our chances of closing a deal. Some call this lying by omission, I call it resistance. So the question is, how do we lower a buyer’s resistance so that we can extract as much meaningful information from the prospect? Before we can talk about lowering resistance, we have to talk about ‘detecting’ the resistance in the first place.
Studies have shown that one way to tell when someone is holding back is to look at the position of their ankles.

The locking of ankles in an interview or conversation can be the equivalent of someone covering their mouth in order to avoid saying anything. When a person is into the flow of the conversation, they vote with their feet. When there is free flowing conversation the ankles are unlocked. When the ankles are locked, that may be an indication of uncertainty and anxiety.

A study conducted by Allen Pease found that 88 percent of patients who sat in the dentist chair immediately locked their ankles. If the patient was only there for a checkup, only 66% locked their ankles. When the dentist was to administer an injection, 98% of all patients locked their ankles. (note: I noticed I locked mine as well; in case I had to scream 😉

I’m a fan of those reality cop shows (e.g., 48 hours) and I enjoy the parts where they take someone into a room for interrogation. You’ll notice that in most interviews, the interviewee will lock their ankles due to anxiety they’re feeling. If the person has something to hide or is holding back something, you will often see the locked ankles retreat under the chair as if they were hiding something.

Solution
So how do you unlock the ankles (i.e., lower the resistance)? One way is to make the prospect feel comfortable by asking non-judgmental or non-personal questions to get the conversation flowing. Open-ended questions are usually the best in this case. As you ask questions, empathize with the prospect and ask him (or her) to elaborate.

This shows the prospect you care and value their his opinion. When people sense that you care, they will associate you with that good feeling that comes with validation and will more than likely want to share more (i.e., they feel more relaxed around you)..

Another way is to remove the barrier between you and the prospect. If you the salesperson are sitting on the other side of the desk, the best strategy here would be to move your chair alongside or on the same side of the prospect. Removing the desk as a barrier reduces the personal space between you and the prospect and forces him to relax. Occasionally glanced downward at their ankles to see if you’ve achieved your objective.

Finally, just having the ankles lock isn’t an automatic guarantee that the prospect is holding back or is anxious, but it is a good indicator. Look for other signs such as wringing of the hands, clasping the hand tightly, putting their hands under the table or rubbing their hands alongside their legs. Along with the tightly locked ankles, these are further indicators that the client is holding something back.

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence
“Finding the Why in (How People) Buy”

Copyright © 2009 by Victor Antonio – Atlanta, Georgia GA. All rights reserved. This article MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body. All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com.

Speaking to a Crowd of 3,000+ in Jacksonville, Florida (4-24-10)

I was invited to be the commencement speaker at the University of Phoenix graduation in Jacksonville, Florida. Here are some highlights:

Article: Upside of a Down Market – 10 Reasons a Recession is Good for Selling

victor antonio sales trainer atlanta georgia

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

All this whining about the economy is making me sick.  Stop it!  Cut it out!  Let me take a moment to put things in their proper perspective. 

I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina as VP of Sales managing all of Latin America.  Argentina’s unemployment rate was somewhere between 20% and 25% at the time.  Their currency, the Argentine peso, although pegged to the dollar, bought you half of what you could get here in the U.S.  Rent for a typical 1 bedroom apartment of about 600 square feet started at $1,500 a month with the average monthly wage of a worker being $300 per month (your read that right).  Don’t ask me how they could afford to live; that’s still a mystery to me.   And, the cheapest you’d ever find a gallon of gas was close to $4 (i.e., a bargain at the time).

“So what!” you say?! 

During that time we grew our annual sales from a little over $400,000 a year to $1.5M in sales in less than two years; that’s the so what!   When everyone around me was telling me there was no business to be had in the country, I proved them wrong.  There’s always an ‘upside to a down market’ and here are ten of them:

1) The economist and pro-capitalist Milton Friedman in his book Free to Choose reminded us that a recession squeezes out the excess in an over-saturated market.  Simple translation: most of your competitors will struggle or better yet, cease to exist during this period.  Less competition equals more opportunities.  Score 1 for a recession…yeah! 

2) Accessibility to potential clients is easier since less salespeople are calling on them.  This is an opportune time to start building new relations with accounts that at one time were impenetrable.

3) Here’s something to ponder; when things are going well, the last thing a client wants to do is try something new or rock the proverbial boat.  But when a downturn in business occurs, the client’s upper management is screaming for ways to either save money or make them money.  At that moment clients are more receptive to finding new ideas or trying something new (i.e., like your products).  Which leads into my next point…

4) Mangers, Directors or simply decision-makers in a company who don’t want to lose their job will work very hard to look busy and will be more accommodating to meet with you.  Why?  They want to be able to report back to their boss that they’re looking into new ideas and approaches. 

5) Your financial solvency becomes an edge.  If your company is well positioned financially, you can offer your services (or products) with extended terms (e.g., instead of Net 30, maybe you could go Net 120 days); something your competitors may not be able to do. 

6) If your competitor has products that are costlier or more inefficient, now is the time to strike; they’re in too weak a position to fend you off no matter how long they’ve been a supplier.  Loyalty to a brand (i.e., product or company) goes out the door when times are tight.  Highlighting to the client how your product or service can save them money is a welcomed conversation; have it.

7) Offer them free or discounted training on your products.  The biggest complaint we salespeople get when we sell a product is that the client’s employees don’t know how to use the product or that things are so busy they don’t have time to train the employees.  During a downturn is the good time to do some on-site training and further embed yourself and your company’s products with the client’s employees.  Remember, employees often get a say in what products or services they like to use.  Show them love, and they’ll give it back in return.  I remember doing free product training at the client’s location whenever we could and the client remembered this when they were ready to start buying again.

8) Sometimes as salespeople we’re running around with our heads unscrewed trying to stir up new business.  But with a downturn comes less money for travel, attending tradeshows and pulling back on marketing events.  So what to do?  Studies have shown that the best way to grow your revenues with existing products (i.e., upwards of 25%) is to go back and visit those clients who’ve bought from you in the past.  Instead of trying to find new clients, go back and data mine your existing client base, create a list of the top 20 clients along with what they’ve purchased in the past, and put a game plan together to go revisit them and upsell them on other existing products.

9) Beta, beta, beta.  If you have a new product you’ve been anxious to test in the field but couldn’t find any willing client’s to take the time to do it, now is the time.  This strategy alone helped me ‘insert’ myself into my competitor’s most prized clients which eventually became my clients.

10) C-Leveling.  During a downturn your client’s CEO, CFO, COO and others are worried.  Now would be a good time to get your CEO or senior management involved in the sales process.  Have your CEO call on your client’s CEO and see if there is anything that your company can do.  This has no value other than pegging, in your client’s mind at the c-level, your concern for their well being.  Think long-term.  If you can help out (or lend a hand) to a client through the hard times by offering  them flexible terms, small price breaks on products were permissible and/or extra support, they won’t forget it.  And when things get back to normal, as they always do, they won’t forget who stood next to them through the hard times. 

The key to success during a downturn, aside from surviving, is to further entrench yourself with your existing client base and at the same time look for ways to penetrate and position your product in your competitor’s backyard.

So how did I do it?  During that one and a half year period we focused in on our competitor’s top 5 clients across three different market segments (i.e., a total of 15 clients).  For nine straight months we bombarded them with information (product training, price breaks, free demos, et al.) and kindness (took them out to lunch, made ourselves available for impromptu meeting, et al.).  Sounds too simple?  Try it for six months and then get back to me.

We have it good here in the good old U.S. of A.  But we’ve become a nation of sales whiners.  When unemployment is 6.5% we see Armageddon.  When the credit markets tighten up we come up with reasons (i.e., convenient rationalizations) why the client won’t buy…today!

Not all markets are created equal.  We shouldn’t generalize what we see in the news and assume it applies to our market.  It may, but the direct assumption is a copout.  In George Orwell’s 1984 the media was in charge of creating perception to fit some totalitarian agenda.

Today, the media irritates me.  They can’t seem to make up their mind whether we’re in a deep recession or shallow depression.  Who cares!  Pundits be damned!  Argentina had an unemployment rate of over 20%, a weak peso, overpriced gas and yet, by some Keynesian trickier or fortunate turbulence of the invisible hand, companies were still buying from somebody.  No economy stands still!

Right now at this very moment, a potential client in your market niche is buying something from your competitor.  Stop coming up with reasons (i.e., excuses) why you can’t sell and think of reasons why NOW is the ideal time to expand your business. 
 
 
Victor Antonio, Sales Influence
“Finding the Why in (How People) Buy”

Copyright © 2008 by Victor Antonio.   All rights reserved.  This article MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body.  All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com.

Sales Influence Moment #9 – Sell the Steak or the Sizzle?

(Study Referenced: Angela Lee, Punam Anand Keller, Brian Sternthal, Value from Regulatory Construal Fit: The Persuasive Impact of Fit Between Consumer Goals and Message Concreteness, July 2009 – JCR 2/10)

Sales Influence Moment #8 – The Door-In-The-Face (DITF) Strategy