Coax and Joke
In order to turn a skeptical prospect into a buyer, it often takes more than just a compelling proposal and persuasive financials. A sales professional needs to know how to push a prospect – without being “pushy.” So how do you give that much needed nudge without sending your prospect over the cliff? Try a little humor.
Laughter is one of the ways your body releases stress. I have heard it explained many years ago that if the human mind encounters two planes of reasoning that inexplicably collide, the tension that results is often reconciled through laughter. The example given was a vaudeville act where a man dressed as a highly decorated general authoritatively struts out on stage…and proceeds to slip on a banana peel!
I analogize coaxing a prospect to do something that they would not normally do to “bending a branch.” Every time you sense you are nearing the breaking point, you release the pressure. Repeating this regimen of applying pressure, releasing the pressure, and then applying pressure again allows you to bend a branch much farther than if you had simply applied ever-increasing pressure…an approach that would probably result in the branch breaking. Alternatively, in the absence of any bending force, you would be stuck with a straight stick!
Applying pressure and then releasing it with humor can be extremely effective when asking your prospect to leave his comfort zone (e.g., suggesting that he fund expense-reducing capital projects with longer paybacks). Ask the prospect to bend too far too fast and the conversation will end unproductively. If you fail to ask the prospect to bend at all, you will lose the sale. You need the right mix of pressure and release to move a reluctant prospect toward a fruitful outcome.
If you use this approach effectively, you will greatly increase the probability of convincing your prospect to do something they never would have considered previously. As long as your efficiency solution is beneficial to them, that would be a win-win, and they will likely thank you for it later.
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