‘How to Sell Thin Air’…..That was the title of the workshop I ran for Ecadamist Mark Underwood’s excellent Business NLP Group meeting last night. Its a club to show the business applications of NLP and was well attended by people who run their own business and people that work in companies in a non-sales role.
Selling ideas and pure services are very similar. They are often very intangible and take a certain style of selling. People seeking ‘buy-in’ from others are essentially talking about a ’sales’ task.
So here are 5 questions I posed to get them thinking about the building blocks of ‘How to sell thin air’…
What specifically are you selling?
With ideas and services we need to make them as tangible as possible. With services this typically means creating service products with names, specific contents, and a specific price.
With ideas the use of metaphors are good and also helping people to see the end result of the idea in the form of a mental picture/vision
I told the room that WHAT is a good place to start but you may need to come back to it after answering some of the other questions. It’s still worth considering service propositions which are effectively the core ideas of the problems you solve. For example ‘Cut service costs by up to 50% whilst increasing service levels’
Give your service products names – an example of mine is the Business Development Launch pad. It’s a specific service with a specific process, a specific price and even has a money back guarantee. The more tangible you can make these things the better.
When I am doing a sales breakthrough with a business owner the WHOM is normally the area that needs most work.
Here we are looking at clarification as to who we are selling to recognising that people are different. They have different personalities, wants, needs, communication styles etc. The more we understand about the who the easier it is to work out the rest. We did an exercise from my Lead Generation Masterclass to work out the different personality types
If you are talking about the WHOM in terms of companies or markets then start thinking about the individual people because its the people that do the buying. Also there may be more than one person involved e.g. A Finance Director, A Sales Director, An Operations Director – each typically having different personality types. Even if you pick one of those there are different types of people. For example, Finance directors can range from tight fisted and risk averse to forward thinking and taking calculated risks
Here we are looking for the underlying motivation to change and do something different – and in most cases spend money they many not think they have.
Understanding the motivation is the key to sales and once you understand WHO then the WHY becomes a lot easier if you imagine what it is like to be in their position. Better still…ask them!!
There are two motivational forces – pain and pleasure – carrot and stick etc. Rather than applying the stick we need to understand the pain that they are currently experiencing or at risk of experiencing that they want to move away from. Its the classic ‘What’s keeping you up at night?’ type of question…..If you can help people move from pain to pleasure then they will thank you for it.
Here we are taking the underlying motivations and picking an aspect that we emphasise. If we were selling cars and a potential customer was interested in safety then it would be foolish to emphasise the speed of a car – we would want to emphasise how safe the car was…..
Taking all the above we now need to communicate the idea/service/product in a way that fits the person(s) communication style and motivations
We did lots of exercises around the questions and I was delighted that people that would never even consider selling anything…..ever!! were flogging like a goodun! .[technical term!]