How do you add value to a conversation with anyone? If value is in the eye of the beholder, and you aren’t a mind reader- how do you do that?
This is made even more difficult by the fact that selling today isn’t face to face, so the clues we get when in person as to how someone is thinking are lost.
And oftentimes buyers have a negative viewpoint going into conversations that makes it difficult to communicate value to them. (This is called the Theory of Reasoned Action, we behave according to our attitudes and beliefs). This means they will reject your ideas, products, and services with phrases like; “It costs too much.”
So what do you do in that situation to add value?
As we were talking about this on a recent #livesaleslab session, the conversation I had with David Hoffeld at dinner before #Inbound18 came to mind. We were talking about sales coaching, (of course) and cognitive re-framing.
Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique that helps people to gain new perspectives by identifying and disputing irrational or negative thoughts, and changing how they view things to a positive alternative.
This means there is a framework we can help our buyers to think differently about their problems and gain a new perspective, which research shows is what buyers value most in salespeople they want to work with.
It is also something I do several times a day when I am coaching clients. The biggest part of a sales coach’s job is to get the coachee to gain new perspectives on themselves and circumstances to help them change their behaviors.
How can you do with your buyers what I do with salespeople everyday? There are 3 basic frameworks I use. Each involve 2 steps.
- Validate their perspective
- Offer a positive perspective to their negative one.
3 Re-framing Examples
This is not about lying or spinning the truth, far from it. Re-framing is a technique therapists use with trauma patients. It doesn’t change their circumstances, but rather their outlook on it. You can shift any negative to a positive. Below are a few examples of how you might re-frame someone saying; “It’s too expensive.”
Re-frame 1- Compare and contextualize options. What could they do and how will that impact the future? (remember- doing nothing is always an option and the one that is most likely to happen!)
“Yes, this is a significant investment in cost and time. You could delay the decision, but based on what you said your cost of what a failed sales hire is- at a rate 3 turnovers for every 10 you hire, that’s 300k. A 15k investment now to screen out those poor fits is only a one time cost of $1500 per salesperson. Would you rather pay 300k in 6 months, or $1500 per hire now to ensure you hire the best candidates for your future growth? “
Re-frame 2- Cost of consequences. What is their desired gain and fear of loss?
“Yes, you are right. This is not a small investment, what about the return that you are looking for? Is a 15K investment to reach the additional 1.5 million in revenue you are looking for worth it? What if you don’t make this investment? What if you overlook your next top salesperson and they end up working for the competition? Or worse, what if you hire the wrong salesperson and they miss their quotas and you scramble to meet revenue targets that investors expect?”
Re-frame 3- Content alignment. What do they believe about their goals and how can you align to it?
“I understand this is a large investment to you. You shared that you want to nurture a culture of excellence and learning in your sales organization in order to consistently break through revenue targets. But more importantly, that you want to put your customer first in all interactions. If you hire the wrong salespeople on the front lines because you under invested in the process, those few bad hires can damage moral and your customer experience. This solution is proven to help hire the right salespeople for high performing sales organizations like yours.”
But whether or not you will be able to re-frame your buyer’s negative perception will depend on how strong your sales fundamentals are. For example, if you struggle with keeping your emotions in control, it will be difficult to recognize when you need to re-frame what someone is saying. You will be too busy trying to think up what to say to refute their objection. If you have a need for approval, you won’t want to risk pushing back at them because of how they might think of you.