"By asking 'implication' questions, the salesperson is making your subconscious feel the problem is bigger than it is"
"By asking 'implication' questions, the salesperson is making your subconscious feel the problem is bigger than it is"

Do you even know you are being sold to?

posted by Tim Jenkins
21 February 2017

You are at a distinct disadvantage when negotiating with an experienced sales person if you don’t understand their sales techniques, says Tim Jenkins

How many books on sales methodologies have you read? The majority of senior buyers I meet across public and private sectors haven’t read any. Yet understanding and adopting salespeople’s techniques and behaviours can help you get best value-for-money outcomes.

There’s a common misconception that if you have the ‘gift of the gab’ and can build rapport, then you can be good at sales. This could not be farther from the truth. Sales is a complex science that, when mastered, is deployed by the best salespeople as an art form. Great salespeople will take a mixture of methodologies and adapt like a chameleon to whatever type of buyer they meet. Understand what is going on and prepare as they do, or your playing field will always be uneven.

Research any salesperson you negotiate with

  • Look at their LinkedIn profile to understand their background and experience;
  • Their Twitter account to see what topics interest them;
  • Their name and company on Google to see if they have a profile on the company website.

This is the bare minimum a salesperson will do before they interact with you:

Questions are not just questions

A salesperson’s questioning is not merely a fact-finding exercise or them empathising with your situation to build rapport. This is their sales process. Does this sound familiar?

  • Salesperson asks you about a challenge in your business and you reveal one;
  • They then ask what are the implications of this problem, and you tell them in detail what happens if the problem is not fixed.

By asking ‘implication’ questions, the salesperson is making your subconscious feel the problem is bigger than it is. The bigger the problem, the more value you’ll see in the solution, meaning you’re more likely to buy it and pay a higher price.

Control your buying signals

The above scenario represents a perfect example of failure to control our buying signals. We mostly buy with our hearts then justify with our minds. There’s nothing we can do about it – it’s how we’re subconsciously wired.

So, if we’re excited or interacting well with a seller, our head nods excessively, we smile and lean forward. If we like a product or service, we use language that pictures us using it. We talk about implementation and budgets. This is exactly what the salesperson wants you to do. As a result, I recommend:

  • Never fall into the trap of talking about how big a problem or opportunity is;
  • Use “if” to talk about working together, rather than “when”;
  • Reinforce that you are/will be looking at multiple providers;
  • Watch your body language;
  • Interact as you would like to be interacted with.

Build up some rapport

Salespeople are taught that everything said to a buyer is an experience for them, which can have a positive or negative outcome on the interaction. This is the same for buyers. The way in which you interact with a seller has a massive impact on your ability to achieve value in negotiation.

If you do not make an effort to build rapport with the seller, then you’ll never get the best deal. Salespeople will move heaven and earth for clients they like and in some cases will walk away from deals if they think the client will be too hard to work with. 

You are being ‘closed’ all the time

‘Closing’ a deal does not just happen at negotiation stage. From the very first moment you interact with a salesperson, you are being closed. This is not just about agreeing a deal. Salespeople will close you on the next meeting, speaking to other decision-makers, getting you to test the product/service etc, and more.

There are around 20 different types of ‘close’ that sales people use and you can expect to be subjected to an array of these throughout your interaction. If at any point during the interaction you find yourself saying yes, agreeing with or planning next steps, you are being ‘closed’. 

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