And no, it’s not a shared love of slapstick comedies or a useless yet impressive ability to dominate outdated versions of trivial pursuit.
In fact, it’s much simpler than that.
At Janek, we consistently conduct research to identify the factors that contribute to the success of top sales performers. While there are a myriad of habits and styles that influence achievement within different sales environments, we have found that there is one basic skill that all top performers seem to have mastered.
That skill is mastering the confirming statement. The ability to gain a confirming statement from a prospect or customer – when done correctly – is truly an art form. It takes practice, finesse and a genuine concern for the true satisfaction of the customer.
That was an example of attempting to gain a confirming statement. The essence of the practice is to make sure that your customer is clear, confident and comfortable with your conversation at all times. Before you move forward and advance various stages of the sales process, it is essential that you gain the customer’s confirmation that they are ready to do so.
What does this have to do with your best friend?
Think about the last time you had a really good conversation with your best friend. During that conversation, it probably wasn’t a conscious acknowledgement, but you were keenly aware of how engaged your best friend was. When someone is truly interested in listening to what you have to say, it’s evident.
They let you talk and finish your thoughts without interrupting. They listen to what you have to say and then use your same words back to you, letting you know that they were paying attention. They might even give subtle confirming statements of their own along the way e.g., right, uh-huh, etc., letting you know they are still engaged.
All in all, it’s a good conversation – you don’t feel like you’re being rushed, ripped off, or that there is an ulterior motive. It’s an overall pleasurable experience. If it wasn’t, your friend wouldn’t be someone you would choose to converse with again and again.
Applying these principles to the sales process.
The best sales professionals have found a way to recreate these friendly interactions – and not just when they’re ready to close the sale – but at every step along the way. They demonstrate that they care about their customers; they check back; they confirm; and they make sure things are going according to plan at every phase of the sales process.
- Opening Phase: Even before the conversation starts, a good sales professional will go over the agenda and proposed talking points, confirming that it all sounds good to the customer and they are comfortable.
- Needs-Discovery Phase: During this phase, a good sales professional will consistently confirm and acknowledge the needs they discover. If a customer voices a concern, don’t just blow past it – stop; and address it with empathy.
- Solution-Presentation Phase: When presenting solutions to the customer, a good sales professional will confirm each part of the recommendation, making sure the customer is comfortable with exactly what is being offered.
- Close / Commitment Phase: At this time, a good sales professional will confirm consistently, ensuring that the customer is 100 percent amiable and comfortable with the next and final steps when providing their commitment.
By addressing roadblocks as they come up, you can prevent a great deal of frustration later in the sales process. By eliciting honest feedback from the customer – and not driving them toward a non-genuine “yes” – you’ll know exactly where they stand at all times. Wouldn’t you rather deal with honest feedback in a dialogue versus dealing with a defensive objection (that derails your whole process) when attempting to close?
The right way should never feel “salesy.”
We said earlier that the ability to gain a confirming statement from a prospect or customer is truly an art form. We mean that there is an art to doing it in a way that doesn’t come across as salesy. Each person needs to find their own balance so that they don’t risk making a customer feel awkward.
The customer shouldn’t feel like they are being bombarded with confirming questions, but rather that they are being confidently led down a path at their own speed.
Think back to the conversation with your best friend. When you regard your prospects and customers with these same principles in mind, it becomes an entirely different conversation – literally. It becomes two people, working together, to solve a problem or fulfill a need.
Remember, a customer is well aware of when you are putting your needs in front of theirs. They know when making the sale is your only concern, and they can sense when you feign interest in their problems only to solve your own. Confirming helps you put the customer first.