Posts Tagged ‘sales pitch’

The Ten Laws of Competitive Persuasion

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity – Edwin Hubbell Chapin.

You flick the light switch on because you assume that the light will turn on. You strictly follow a particular dietary regime because you trust it will aid in your physical health and shape. You follow the tenets of your religion because you have faith that it will secure your place in God’s good grace. We are our beliefs, they define who we are – they characterize the self. Some convictions are rooted deep in our childhood, taught to us by parents and teachers, and accepted as dogma. Others are learned from peers, books or television and warped or reinvented to suit our psyches. And some beliefs we come by late in life after having lived, made mistakes, realized accomplishments and formed steadfast opinions. Once shaped or solidified, beliefs act as a filter for the way we see the world, they affect the way our brain interprets the endless information we are bombarded with and stands as the backdrop against which we justify action.

It is a profound and complex process the business of forming ideas and beliefs that we both become anchored to and readily act upon. Or is it? Moving forward based on certain notions, taking action on propositions that we feel are the natural consequence of our summations (usually formed over great lengths of time and supported by everything from conjecture and hearsay to hard-core empirical evidence and experience) is not always the natural consequence of belief. And conviction is not always a necessary prerequisite to action. Sometimes, under the right circumstances, a mere suggestion will do.

Consider cold calling sales, an endeavor or process by which an individual is asked to assume and act over the span of a single telephone call or visit. In many instances, the prospect has never heard of the company, product or service they are being introduced to or informed of, yet are eagerly asked to have faith in and commit to a person they have never met or know next to nothing about, all over the course of a lone conversation. No time to collate data or study propositions, no time to “think about it,” just a brash expectation on the part of the closer that the prospect should presume and act. And they do, every hour of every day prospects become buyers, agnostics become apostles.

What causes a man to believe, or to at least become interested enough to act on an impulse? What must you do to convince another human being to take action on an idea that is not their own? How can a state of being that usually evolves over a period of months, years or even decades be distilled and induced in the space of a single sales pitch? To short circuit a process that usually involves teaching, programming and indoctrination over the course of one’s life is no small feat, but it is doable. It is well within the capabilities of any determined individual to stoke the fires of another man’s fascination and cause him to take action on nothing more than a moment’s notice. More so than being doable, it is a workable process that can be modeled, adapted and repeated. However, before this can be done, before you can develop into a proficient closer, you must first understand a bit about human nature, and you must learn the fundamental laws that govern this process, of which there are ten.

Although these ten laws are grounded on fundamental behavioral science and cognitive psychological principles, no deep understanding of human psychology is required to understand the essence of their power over the thoughts and actions of men or the effectiveness of their implementation. Far from being complex formulas or theorems, the laws, as I present them, are as effortless to appreciate as they are incontrovertible; they are common sense, practical and manifest. Your challenge will not be in comprehending the laws, it will be in remaining consistent, in following through and conducting your business according to the full protocol. Although it would be of immense value to merely embrace one, or even just a few of these ideals, as each imparts an extremely powerful advantage in the pursuit of deal-making, in order to ensure that you do not end up a one hit wonder or a part-time champion, in order to yield the greatest possible windfall, the full ten laws should be adopted as creed and code.

The ten laws will ensure your success. If you apply them you cannot fail. It is why I call these principles laws as opposed to rules. Rules are merely customary practices; rules are boring and restrictive. People dislike following rules. Many rules are often defied and avoided. Hell, rules were meant to be broken! Laws however, in the scientific sense (which I firmly believe is the ground on which we tread) are principles based on the predictable consequences of specific actions. Laws guarantee results. Adhering to them means that you are not just working to the custom, tradition or whimsy of another (as is the case with a rule) but, rather, operating under a set of circumstances that ensure a pre-determined outcome. It is cause and effect. You cannot flout the laws of the universe; scientific or physical laws cannot be violated. These ten principles are the science behind selling anything successfully and as such, consistent, large and undeniable success can be the only product of dedication to these ten maxims. Much like two plus two equals four, the forecasted outcome must occur, and the results are obliged to be bountiful.

The Ten Laws of Competitive Persuasion:

The First Law:
Compete to Win (Chase the Championship)

The Second Law:
Know thy Prospect

The Third Law:
Become a Believer – Learn to Love What you Sell (Gain Product Knowledge)

The Fourth Law:
Pitch the Decision-Maker

The Fifth Law:
Stack the Deck (Your Advantage is Their Advantage)

The Sixth Law:
Be Urgent

The Seventh Law:
Close

The Eighth Law:
Be Bold (Moving Yourself and Your Prospect Beyond the Comfort Zone)

The Ninth Law:
Gain Obligation

The Tenth Law:
Always Negotiate From a Position of Strength

Obligate or Terminate

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I’d like to share with you a conviction I hold that has served me exceedingly well throughout my career:

You cannot blow a deal you never had!

That brilliant little axiom has kept me alert and aware, on-edge and frosty. It has allowed me to cut through the bullshit and consistently separate the prospects from the suspects. Most importantly, dedication to this truism has kept me from wasting my time with time-wasters.

Too many salespeople put their faith in maybes, might do’s, and other various process extending excuses when trying to bag an elephant. Ever concerned that they may ruffle the feathers of their prospects, the mediocre tend to act more like messengers than closers, substituting desperate prayers to the deal gods in place of a zealous effort to gain commitment. Pretenders will go to all sorts of ridiculous lengths to avoid giving their prospects a bold faced ultimatum to “shit or get off the pot,” just so as not to offend, rankle or upset the customer, or rupture the deal.

Do not throw your lot in with this band of cowards. Do not leave the outcome of your deals to luck or worse, fate, as she will most likely kick you in the nuts every chance she gets! Take control of your destiny and dedicate yourself to becoming a first-class finisher. Never mind the namby-pamby, kid gloves approach, remember, “he who dares wins!”

So, when your prospect’s reply to a closing question is a veritable non-answer like “we’ll see” or a vague diversion designed to jog you on and pull their own ass out of the pressure cooker, do your customer and yourself a big favor, ask them to either put their balls on the line and take action or admit that they are just not that interested in what you have to offer. And, when an apparent condition (not an excuse) stands in the way of sealing a deal on the first conversation, attempt to make the deal conditional that will flush out the liars from the buyers every single time. Obligate or terminate!

Here’s the gospel truth, if your prospect is not sold or in love with your idea, if you haven’t managed to get him fired up about what you do and how you do it, then it matters not how relentlessly you close or how delicately you tread, the deal is DOA regardless! Any customer that tells you, after pressing them for a decision or some form of conditional obligation, that they are not going to move forward because you are too “pushy” or because you are “pressuring” them, was never, ever going to do the deal in the first place.

Prospects that cry “high pressure” are, quite frankly, full of it. Blaming a deal’s demise on too much pressure is the last gasp of a “suspect” (not a prospect) who is just as reticent to say “yes” for fear of regretting the decision later, as they are apprehensive about saying “no,” heaven forbid it turns out an incredible opportunity passed them by.

Don’t get me wrong, a clumsy, awkward salesman can certainly turn off a legitimate prospect. Acting like a “bull in a china shop,” full of unqualified assumptions and false sincerity during the sales pitch when you should be full of relationship building passion, relevant angles, and professional needs analysis questions will absolutely leave a nasty taste in a prospect’s mouth. And, if you hard close prematurely, before the prospect is sold lock, stock and two smoking barrels, then you will most likely appear inept and gauche. You will be viewed as a rank amateur, the kind who bunglingly endeavors to ram a sale down someone’s throat when they were never sold in the first place. However, if you have wined, dined and delivered one heck of a pitch, if you have sparked a love affair between the prospect and your concept and confirmed as much by asking strong qualifying questions, then it is incumbent upon you to motivate the customer to take action. You owe it to yourself and the prospect to not only present a clear and decisive path, but to confidently prompt and urge him to act on what it is he claims to be enamoured with. Under these circumstances, you are not going to blow anything by asking a prospect to commit. Someone who genuinely wants to buy understands the way business is done and appreciates a professional and firm approach. At worst, the real prospects and true decision-makers will be happy to offer a clear and legitimate explanation as to why they may not be able to move forward straight away and will be completely open to the suggestion that they put some skin in the game by promising action later if certain conditions are met.

By not going weak-kneed, by not cowering like some chicken-shit tenderfoot and avoiding the tough questions and if/then proposals, you are doing your prospects, as well as those that are suspect, a very productive service. For the buyers, you are showing consideration and respect for their position by offering them guidance and giving them what any true decision maker wants and respects: a clear, no-bullshit call to take action, an opportunity to be a decision maker and decide! And, for the liars, you are giving them the opportunity to either save face by blaming your aggressive manner for the deal’s demise (revealing them for the suspects that they are) or to simply admit what it is they were initially too polite to say, that your concept (or pitch) failed to impress and that they have no interest. Goodnight Irene!

Do not stake your career, your victories or your deals on a wing and a prayer. Count on obligation and commitment exclusively, they are your only true friends in a world rife with fear, political correctness and obfuscation. They will expose the ineffectual, the decision-fakers and the bureaucrats as efficiently as their use will garner the respect and loyalty of solid, tough decision-makers, multiplying your relationships with those that matter most (the power players). In the end the world might not always love a closer, but they will forever admire one.

Lawrence Rosenberg