Let’s start with this: talk is an activity; communication is a process. You can’t sell anything without communication. But you can talk and talk and not communicate a thing. I’m sure you know what that’s like from personal experience: not fun.
Communication is about bridging gaps. Sometimes those gaps are huge. People may literally speak a different language, or have very different life experiences than us, or, more commonly, they may simply have other things on their mind.
So how can we best reach across that space between us to communicate the value of our product, our service or our idea?
Let’s take an especially challenging scenario. Your prospect is standoffish, hard to read, or downright ornery. Ever deal with someone like that? Of course you have.
In the face of those conversational obstacles, you’re likely to be thinking, “she’s downright rude,” or “he’s playing it awfully close to the vest,” “this guy’s attitude sucks,” or “she’s too paranoid for her own good.” Ironically, though, however you portray them to yourself, it’s your characterization that’s the main barrier to communication.
When you’re busy being critical of your immediate experience, that’s judgment, not engagement. And judgment is what blocks communication. The more fixed your idea about the other person, the harder it is to have a fluid and open conversation; these assumptions render real communication virtually impossible.
On the other hand, when you try to relate to people as they are, without bias or judgment, there is no barrier — because there’s no separation between you and them. You’re meeting them right where they are.
A good metaphor for this open and direct connection is: Ride the horse the direction it’s already going.
Sure, some horses are skittish, some calm, and some may be very uncooperative. But in sales, your job is to ride the horse — whatever its temperament. You’re not there to just hang onto the saddle thinking, “This isn’t the kind of ride I was hoping for and this horse needs to change his ways.”
Prospecting often involves cold calling strangers – talking to people you’ve never met about something they were not expecting (quoting their insurance at renewal time, for example). It may be “your dime,” as we quaintly used to say, but it’s their time, so you’ve got to be ready to engage with them on their own terms.
To really tune in to another person, you have to tune out your preconceived opinions about them.
When a situation doesn’t go the way we’d like, we tend to react to how it made us feel. All those feelings need to be put way in the background.
Instead, your attention needs to be on moving the sales conversation along, asking questions, and engaging further.
You hold the reins of the conversation. To do that well you need to get in sync with your prospect, feel what they feel, and respond effectively instead of reacting emotionally.