Paul Kenny – Resistance is Futile

This is a summary of Paul Kenny‘s Business of Software 2012 presentation.

Sales Habits That Matter

The job of a sales coach is to listen to lots and lots and lots of pitches. After listening to sales calls for a while you develop a sense for how it’s going. Therefore, you should start listening to your interactions with your customers.

Create a sales culture in your business that allows you to repeat your successes.

Habits that matter (from Paul’s previous presentations):

  • Understand value: What a salesperson is good at is creating value by identifying what customers really value and then verbalizing it.
  • Dialog: Salespeople are great at creating dialog. Being good at it allows you to understand value. What great salespeople do is build a dialog around everything that’s going on to uncover real problems that they might be able to solve.
  • Share Stories: Storytelling is about making the way you articulate your sales resonate with the customer. Don’t ask selfish questions. Selfish questions are those that steer the conversation in a direction that allows you to talk about the topics you want to discuss. For example asking “How important is a dashboard for you?”, and following up with “Well the great thing about ABC is how interactive the dashboard is.”
  • Closing: The purpose of a business is to create customers.

Resistance is Futile

Resistance happens for all sorts of reasons. Resistance feels like hitting a brick wall. You have to think about it because it will define what type of business you are.

What is your sales super power? Use sales Jedi mind tricks to manage resistance.

There is no such thing as the perfect product, even in your imagination. Even if you build a fabulous product some people will say no. Nobody gets 100% market share. So you have to know how to respond when your customers say no.

The path of least resistance – salespeople go for the easiest deals. Most resistance is mundane and manageable.

  • Too busy (no time)
  • Not convinced
  • Prefer another product
  • No money
  • My boss says no
  • Not sure it fits our current system
  • Found it difficult to use

The people who are awesome marketers are really bad at dealing with no. When a client says no, you say OK, but ask questions. You’ll end up with a meandering path that may lead to a yes, or at least to a better understanding of why the no. When we decide to be a little pushy we can learn a lot. You’d be surprised at how many opportunities are lost.

The reason we resist new and different products is because when making buying decisions we use our lizard brain first.

Image credit: @JimYoungPG

  • It’s easier to say no than yes.
  • People want to test your faith and stamina. People want to test you not because they think your software is suspect, but because they are unsure of your organization.
  • Helps to resolve nagging doubt.

There’s more to learn from a qualified no than an unqualified yes. All the people that say no are the ones you will learn the most from.

Sometimes clients have delayed reactions. If you put enough cracks in their doubts you will end up with an easy sales in the future.

A sales conversation with no resistance rarely ends in a deal being done. If it’s too easy, it usually means they’re not going to pay.

Resistance is the beginning of disengagement. You must push back on customers, but you shouldn’t do it in a pushy way. If you win the argument, you lose the sale.

  • Ego is involved in every decision.
  • Battle lines may be drawn.

Three forms of resistance:

  • Objections
  • Price shock
  • Delay: “I want to think about it.” You MUST challenge them to see what it is they are thinking about.

Two types of objections:

  • Logical: “It won’t work for us.”
  • Emotional: “I don’t like it.”

Two traditional responses to resistance:

  • Attack: “You don’t get it.” This is predicated on the belief that the client is an idiot.
  • Surrender: “Fair enough.” We are not a pushy company.

The top sales people have one effective response – they treat resistance as a huge game. They’re explorers. They treat it as a natural and necessary part of the sales process. They believe that no real deal will be done if there is no friction.

What makes a brilliant objection handler? Basics – client awareness, market and product knowledge, etc. More important is speed of thought, persistence, reframing, attitude of thinking on your feet and looking for the best way to articulate the benefit. For example, “Wow! That’s really interesting. What is it that makes you feel that way?”

General principals of handling objections:

  • Understand and isolate the underlying objection (without asking “why”)
  • Get on the customer’s side (empathize)
  • Respond and reframe
  • Confirm and close

Don’t ask “why.” Instead probe deeper by understanding what is the underlying problem. For example, ask “What are your objections?” instead of “Why don’t you like my product?”

Every price objection is about relative value. When confronted with price objections:

  • Politely ignore – “Let’s look at what you’re getting and then decide if it’s worth your money.”
  • Ask “In comparison to what?”
  • Break the price down

If a client responds with “I want to think about it.”, the sale almost always goes down after the client has thought about it.

  • This is hard, because if you go back, you’re being pushy.
  • Do they really mean it? Or is that the end?
  • Get them to articulate what they’re thinking about, even if you can’t sell it. Then you can follow up with ideas/research/whatever that will deal with it.

Within your organization:

  • Discuss what your response is to resistance.
  • Discuss how far it’s OK to challenge the client.
  • Discuss how you’ll build into your sales culture a positive handling of resistance.
  • Discuss what you’ll do differently next time.

[I’d like to thank Bill Horvath, founder of DoX Systems, for sharing his notes with me.]

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