On a recent 710 WOR “Mind Your Business” broadcast, Yitzchok Saftlas (YS) spoke with guest Norm Trainor (NT), founder and CEO of the Covenant Group.
YS: Norm, how do you make a million dollars in under six months?
Norm Trainor: The single biggest contributor to success is the ability to attract and retain the right clients – it all comes back to sales.
In the last 5-10 years, we have learned more about how people make decisions than we did in the previous 100 years. There is an art and science to becoming a master salesperson. The way to create a million dollars in revenue in the next six months is to become a ninja salesperson. The problem for most salespeople is that they confuse familiarity and mastery. They are familiar with what they have to do to get to “yes” with a client or prospect, but they have not mastered the art and science of selling. Crafting conversations between a buyer and seller that lead to a positive outcome involves both art and science. A sale is a short com-plex task. The timeframe to get to “yes” and make a sale could be minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years. But what we’re going to look at today is how you sell more of the same people, how you sell more to the same people, and how you transact faster. To do that, you have to take what is complex and make it simple without removing its complexity.
The key is understanding the art and science of selling. It involves understanding two key elements. The first is principles and the second is skills. A principle is a general theorem or law that can be applied scientifically across a broad spectrum. Principles are simple guidelines that help us achieve a positive outcome. In selling, the outcome you want is to make a sale. The first principle of influence or selling is focus on the person you’re trying to persuade or sell. Make your prospect or client the center of the experience. You do this by focusing on what is important to them. You ask questions and listen to understand what motivates them.
The second principle is, when it comes to selling, you have to earn the right to proceed. Buying is a series of micro decisions. Each decision requires a conversation. So, the structure of every conversation. So, the structure of every conversation is, first, you attract people into the conversation by creating interest, touch on a subject that speaks to their goals, they engage, and now you make them the focus. Ask questions and listen, to identify how important it is to them. They’ll feel compelled to commit to learning more.
Every conversation has the same framework: attract, engage, compel, and commit.
YS: You’ve said, “If you know how to open, you know how to close.” Could you expand on that?
Norm Trainor: It’s so important how you set the context in the first few minutes when you meet a prospective client. One of the things we know from behavioral psychology is that people are rationalizing rather than rational. We usually make judgments in the first 30 seconds to 3 minutes of meeting another person. These judgements are long-lasting and usually resistant to change. How you manage the initial interaction is critical to getting to “yes.”
There are four key guidelines when you first meet someone. The first is, the more you know about them, the more you’re able to attract them into a conversation and talk about what is of interest to them.
The second is, the questions you ask are key to differentiating yourself. When you ask questions that focus on their goals, you draw them deeper into a conversation.
The third is the stories you tell. People are motivated by stories, analogies, metaphors, etc. When you’re able to tell stories that speak to what’s important to that other person, it speaks volumes about your credibility and your ability to help them achieve what’s important to them.
The fourth is what you create together. People hate to be sold and love to buy. You have to make it about them. You have to attract them into the con-versation, such that they are engaged, feel compelled to continue, and commit to working with you over time. It’s all about having a client attraction conversation. An elevator pitch puts the focus on the salesperson; a client attraction conversation puts the focus on that other person.
YS: Perhaps you could expand on how you sell more of the same people, as you mentioned earlier?
Norm Trainor: The narrower your focus, the bigger your opportunity. When you focus on specific target markets and get to know what motivates those people, you can differentiate yourself by taking the expertise you gain in working in a narrow market and applying it to people who fit in that market. That makes it easier to sell more of the same people because your reputation precedes you in your market.
The single most important determinant of how successful you will be as a salesperson, or in any role, is the time span within which you think and act. High-performing salespeople manage the before, during, and after of the sales process. They invest a lot of time and energy into getting positioned with the right client, even before they meet with them.
One of the things we know from behavioral psychology is that when people make decisions, they triangulate. They look for three or more sources to vali-date their intuition. Increasingly today, one of those sources is the internet. We Google the seller, an done of the first things that comes up is their LinkedIn profile. Now if you go to LinkedIn profile, one of the things you’ll see under “About” is helping clients thrive is the core of everything we do.” In other words, when people read about you, they don’t want to know how great you are. They want to know how great you can make them.
Another way that we triangulate that is so powerful is to obtain introductions to someone we want as a client from someone they know and respect. The best form of marketing is still word of mouth.
A third element is that we live in a consumer-oriented society. People are consumption-oriented. People have options with regard to how they spend their money. Often, choices will have to be made. It is important to help your clients and prospective clients identify, clarify, and intensify their priorities. It all starts with what they are motivated to do. You are helping them make appropriate choices, given the goals they’ve identified. Remember, the focus is on what’s important to them. Salespeople often clarify priorities by saying, “How important is it for you to attract new clients? What are you willing to do to achieve your objective? What will be re-quired for you to build your brand and attract the right clients? What would prevent you from taking action at this time?”
YS: What is the difference between the “art” and “science” of selling?
Norm Trainor: As I mentioned, principles are simple guidelines. A principle is a general theory or law that can be applied scientifically. Art is the application of creativity and intelligence. Craft is art grounded in experience. High-performing sales people master their craft; they invest a great deal of time in the mastery of each aspect of how you get to “yes.” A skill is defined as the application of knowledge to effectively execute a task. Your task is to sell more of the same people, sell more to the same people, and transact faster. To attract the right clients and, over time, retain them.
When you meet with a prospective client, you identify the criteria that they use in making a decision with regard to working with you. You need to understand the basis upon which your products or services will be judged. Ask them questions. “How would you rank price, service, and performance?” “How important is ongoing service to you?” “How important is brand recognition?” Some people make decisions on their own; others consult a variety of people. If you know in advance who will be involved, you can develop a strategy for providing those people with the necessary information and knowledge to effectively contribute to the decision.
YS: Let’s talk about how we can transact and close faster.
In my experience, 90% of our business comes from personal introductions from clients or centers of influence, people who establish our credibility before we actually have a meeting with a prospective client. Typically, what will happen is, if someone’s interest-ed in working with us, they will reach out and John Donnelly, our community manager, will set up a 30-minute call. The first question I ask them is: “What will make our time valuable for you?” Typically, when they answer, they will tell me their readiness to buy. So, some people will say, “A colleague spoke very highly of you. I’m interested in working with you. Can you tell me more about your process and how you can help us grow our business?” Or they will say, “I just want to learn more.” So, I will say, “I’d be glad to tell you about what we do. But before I do, would you take 5-10 people I talk to make a commitment to get involved in one of our programs. When you know how to open, you don’t have to close.
YS: What final advice would you like to share?
There is a simple formula to convert someone from a prospect to a client. That formula begins C (convert) = M (motivation). The single most import-ant determinant of whether someone will buy from you is whether you speak to what motivates them. People are motivated to do what they’re motivated to do. So, C = M + the clarity of your value proposition. You have to be able to explain in a simple and compelling manner how you can help them achieve what’s important to them. But here’s the other consideration, C = M + the clarity of your value proposition – A (anxiety). People usually get blocked in terms of decision making when they experience anxiety. Anxiety is blocked excitement. Now, usually a buying decision makes us anxious when we have “buyer be-ware” messages. We have this fear of making a mistake. People typically aren’t actually upset because they made a mistake. That happens every day. It’s that we beat ourselves up when we make a mistake and think we’ve exercised poor judgment. So, one of the things you have to help people do is stay in touch with their excitement and not have that convert to anxiety.
The key is managing the before, during, and after of getting to “yes” that much more quickly. The before, during, and after of getting to “yes” that much more quickly.
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