Why Deals Stall

Why Deals Stall

Salespeople regularly consult with prospects and deliver product demonstrations to them. All too often though, salespeople engage in unscripted discovery and launch into a bumper-to-bumper, vanilla demo, leaving the prospect both agitated and unsatisfied. Or, the salesperson provides the prospect with a demo, but subsequently blames them for being unresponsive or not having urgency to move forward. In both scenarios, the problem is often that the salesperson does not understand the prospect’s critical business issue.

Most prospects have business issues that they face every day, which they do not do anything about; e.g., their company’s accounting system does not support bi-annual payments for customers. These prospects are willing to live with the issue (status quo) until manually managing bi-annual payments becomes untenable. Many sales opportunities fall into this category. The prospect has a business issue (pain), but it is not critical (severe) enough to cause change. The result is salespeople invest unnecessary time and resources on the wrong prospects.

Critical means 1) being potentially disastrous at the point of crisis or 2) having essential importance to the success or failure of something. In other words, does the prospect’s pain hurt enough for them to change their current behavior? Critical business issues cause change, business issues do not. Establishing the prospect’s critical business issue is imperative because without a compelling reason to change, they will continue to do things the same way. Competing with the status quo is often more difficult than competing with tradition competitors.

What is a critical business issue? A critical business issue is an opportunity or problem that is essential to the overall success of an organization. The issue is essential enough that the prospect is willing to allocate time, people and money to address or solve it. Critical business issues are often 20% of an organization’s opportunities or problems that impact 80% of its immediate future. Examples include: decreasing profits, missing new customer opportunities, regulatory compliance deadlines, etc. The common denominator is often money.

Salespeople calling on technical prospects tend to focus on a critical technical issue (CTI) and associate it with the problem to be solved. A CTI, while important, is only one part of the equation. Understanding how a CTI is linked to the critical business issue will directly speak to the decision maker from a ROI perspective. For example, the company’s accounting system does not integrate with a large customer’s payment portal. How much time will the accounting department spend manually sending invoices? Etc. Link the CTI with the critical business issue.

Salespeople must understand the prospect’s critical business issue and the capabilities needed to solve it. During the demo, the salesperson should then show the capabilities needed in priority order with a highly contextualized and customized narrative based on the prospect’s industry, title, etc. This is much different than showing a bumper-to-bumper, vanilla demo to the prospect. If you do not know the prospect’s critical business issue and the capabilities needed to solve it, how do you know what to show them in the demo?

All contents copyright © 2017, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

Influencing Prospects with Tonality

Influencing Prospects with Tonality

Tonality is a key component of building rapport and trust. Tonality is the process of salespeople communicating specific tonal patterns to proactively influence prospects. When salespeople talk, prospects have an unconscious internal dialogue running against their words; i.e. , they are either agreeing or disagreeing with them. By using tonality at the right time and in the right way, salespeople can create more powerful connections with prospects than words alone. That is, the tone of the salesperson’s voice can be used to alter the prospect’s internal dialogue and response.

According to the real Wolf of Wall Street and now successful sales trainer Jordan Belfort, there are eight tonal patterns that salespeople must master. They are:

  1. Absolute Certainty Tone – Use this tone to convey certainty or imply something to the prospect. Use a harder, more definitive tone. “I can absolutely get that done for you.”
  2. Declarative as a Question Tone – Use this tone to infer agreement with the prospect by using an up-tone at the end. The up-tone paralyzes their internal dialogue enabling forward movement. “Hi, this is Josh Lowry?”
  3. I Care Tone – Use this tone to respond to the prospect’s statement with empathy or sympathy. Prospect: “The cost of your product is higher than my budget.” Seller: “I totally understand.” 
  4. I Really Want to Know Tone – Use this tone to communicate full engagement and interest to the prospect. Be enthusiastic and upbeat (prospects will respond in kind). “How are you?” 
  5. Presupposing Tone – Use this tone to future pace the prospect and move them past the point of obvious. Convey something already is or will happen. “There is no question your organization will save money.”
  6. Reasonable Man Tone – Use this tone to convey that you want the prospect to do something by implying it is normal. Imply that you are both reasonable. “I would like to share an idea with you, do you have a minute?”
  7. Scarcity Tone – Use this tone to convey to the prospect that something is in short supply. Lower your voice to create urgency and the perception of “secret” information. “Prices will be increasing next month.”
  8. Three Up-Tones – Use three up-tones together to infer micro-agreements with the prospect. “This is Josh Lowry; calling from Raygun. We met at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas.”

The enemy of influence and persuasion is constancy; i.e., salespeople communicating to prospects within the same tonal range without changing. When salespeople speak with constancy, prospects tune out. Why? People do not speak in constant tones. When tonality is used at the right time and in the right way, salespeople can move prospects forward emotionally. Prospects buy on emotion and justify their decisions with logic after the fact. If either of the two are out of alignment or missing, it is difficult to close deals.

All contents copyright © 2017, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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