Lately, there has been a surge of writing on “what not to say”. My last blog, ‘Prospecting Kill Phrases’ addresses this trend. There is a flip side to this: “what to say.” The premise for both advisements is to help you boost your credibility and create some trust. This is very important because your prospect gauges the experience they’ll have with you based on how they perceive the intent of your outreach. Are you showing a bias in your approach that is killing your chance to initiate or advance a conversation?
Yes, you are hired, trained, and rewarded to help your company grow by making sales. However, this backstory of fact doesn’t help you. For most of you – it works against you. It creates a bias. Your prospect knows you are emotionally invested in a “sales” outcome. They look for indicators in your words, body posture, and actions. For your prospects, these are triggers by which they decide how much they can trust you. This trust assessment impacts the energy, vulnerability, and commitment the prospects invests into their conversations with you.
Your biases also have a direct correlation with your ability to help your prospect make an objective decision. Your prospect feels the emotional attachment of current relationships, past efforts, and ownership of whatever solution they have in place today. This weight makes it very hard for your prospect to be objective in their review.
As humans, we are inherently not objective. We get attached to our past experiences, the things we create, and the relationships we build. These are triggers for creating our personally biased viewpoints, and they prevent us from seeing things for what they really are. If you are in sales, this is what you are up against most of the time. The prospect doesn’t struggle to see the benefits of what you offer or do – they struggle to separate themselves from these triggers. This struggle impacts their ability to be objective.
To avoid triggering your prospect’s biases – you need to remove yours and approach your conversations more objectively. Here are a few examples.
Biased – “Would like to take 15 minutes of your time.” You’re telling the prospect that the 15 minutes you want to take from their day is about you. So what’s in it for them? What do they get in return for the 15 minutes? A biased pitch on why they should consider doing business with you? Why do they owe you the favor of donating 15 minutes of their time to listen to you pitch, promise, or pled?
Unbiased – “Not sure of the timing of my outreach and at the risk of sounding assumptive – a conversation might make sense.” Here you’re showing your objectivity by mentioning your uncertainty. And you’re showing your client awareness by stressing that you are not assuming, and your unbiased approach by using the word ‘might.” Remember, you are trying to build some credibility here.
Biased – “Would love the opportunity to get together.” How objective does this sound to your prospect? You know very little about them, their business, or situation and you’ve already decided that “you’d love to get together.” Or how about labeling a conversation with them as an “opportunity.” Is it an opportunity for you to position a sale? What is it for them – an opportunity to listen to your pitch and feel the pressure of you wanting something from them?
Unbiased – “We’ve never met or talked, so I can understand if my intent to make an introduction could be misunderstood.” Here you are showing some vulnerability by calling out the obvious – “never met or talked.” You’re making the introduction more about them by acknowledging the possibility that they might initially misunderstand the purpose of your efforts.
There are some common themes in both examples that will help you communicate with more objectivity in all of your outreach:
- Stipping away any assumptions that the prospect should spend time with you.
- Communicating with a little vulnerability by calling the situation out – being human.
- Engaging them as if you’re on their side of the desk.
Remember, the prospect is innately looking for reasons to trust you or not trust you. If you bring your sales biases into your communication and conversation – you’ll simply create more sales barriers. However, if you can learn to become more objective in your intent and conversations, your prospect will become more objective in their assessment and will consider and debate how much time they want to spend with you.
If this still isn’t clicking for you – think of the following:
- How do you respond when someone’s words and actions serve them vs. you?
- How much credence do you give to an opinion that is biased?
- How attached are you to your memories, experiences, and creations?
In the end, objectivity is one of the most important ingredients missing in today’s sales environment, and that’s why selling has become so difficult. It’s not about what you say – that’s simply being prescriptive. It’s about your conversation intent because your words always follow your thoughts. If your intent is to pursue a sale, your biases will flow into your conversation and impact your results.