‘To effectively engage someone, you must be operating from a higher level of consciousness than the other person at that moment’. Garrett Kramer, Stillpower
At a time when consumers have more choice, are more demanding and less tolerant of being placed under any kind of negative pressure it has never been more important to up your game in terms of the way you present your services – the future of your business may depend upon it!
In this article we will look at two very distinct styles of selling and the shift that needs to take place to build even stronger client relationships and have new prospective clients actively seeking you out.
The two styles of selling
Although we could probably fill a small library with books on how to sell it seems to me that there are only two very distinct styles. These are what I would call pushing and pulling.
To take it down to its most basic form what the pusher is saying and doing amounts to ‘Here is what I offer, would you like to buy one?’ Pushers tend to ‘pitch’ to clients and often use the traditionally taught ‘features and benefits’ approach in the hope that something sticks. They also try to convince or even entice a prospective client into purchasing because their primary goal is making a sale.
Creating a pull is very different. The puller deeply engages a potential client. They ask searching questions, they listen deeply and they try to understand where someone is coming from. Instead of trying to convince or persuade their intention is, first and foremost, to connect and understand. Only upon doing this, and with the persons permission or invitation, do they begin to share information about how they might be able to help (if indeed they think they can).
Ultimately, these two styles will create completely different levels of trust, respect and human connection. Being seen as a ‘trusted adviser’ by clients is the result of creating a pull, rather than pushing. This also happens to be very good for business. Trusted advisers invariably win more business, experience greater client loyalty and tend to receive a regular flow (often unsolicited) of high-quality referrals.
What is actually behind these two very different styles?
For many years I got hooked up on the idea that the difference was all about language and behaviour. I thought that if someone could learn to do and say the right things then this would be of great benefit to them when trying to be more successful with building better relationships and selling their services.
However, it began to dawn on me that there were people I came across who paid no conscious attention to their language and behaviour and yet they were brilliant at engaging clients and creating exceptionally strong relationships. At the same time I also saw that there were people who had paid enormous attention to what they said and did and yet their results showed little or no improvement.
Something else was clearly going.
About five years ago I got introduced to a highly practical understanding of the human mind that made it crystal clear why focusing on language and behaviour is so hit and miss.
At a more fundamental level than our language and behaviour is our state of mind. Our behaviour is the result of state of mind and when we are communicating with other people what they are responding to is our feeling state rather than primarily what we say or do.
So, to put this into the context of this article, pushing is invariably the result of an underlying feeling of insecurity, tension or pressure within the adviser. What this means is that instead of being completely and totally focused upon the client they have their own personal thinking on their mind too.
The problem is that clients will often sense this too and it creates a barrier. If the adviser is not comfortable then the client is not going to feel comfortable either and it compromises the quality of the communication. It drastically lowers your ability to positively influence someone because if a client is not bought into the adviser then they will be reluctant to follow their lead.
The power of presence
The single most important thing you can do to build complete trust and create outstandingly good client relationships is to be fully present with your client. What this means in practice is that you do not occupy your mind by evaluating, judging, filtering, fixing, solving or, in fact, any kind of mental activity that takes your attention away from your client.
When your mind is clear you are free to both notice and be responsive to what the client is really thinking, feeling and trying to communicate. This it creates a deeper level of connection because the client really feels ‘heard’ and that you really were paying attention.
You cannot under-estimate just how much difference this makes. But it is also highly unusual. Very few people have real, genuine presence because most people, often unknowingly, have a lot of personal thinking going on.
Surely the job is about providing solutions to client’s problems?
I have noticed that, for some advisers, the idea of having nothing on their mind seems counter-intuitive. The thinking is that surely your mind should be on assessing the client’s needs, situation and how you can help?
Of course, you are there to help and serve your client and I am not suggesting that you disregard the issues that your clients have; quite the contrary. However, I am very clearly and specifically saying that in a client interaction your quality of mind is by far the most significant factor in building the kind of relationships that every adviser really wants to have with their clients.
Creating a pull through presence, listening and the quality of your connection is the most powerful way to sell because it dissolves resistance, facilitates your clients doing their very best thinking and feels natural and easy. Pushing, on the other hand, is draining, coercive and highly-ineffective by comparison.