Welcome to what Jeremy Miner, the founder of 7th Level Communications, calls the “post-trust era”, where consumers are skeptical and cautious of salespeople and what you are selling. It’s tough out there for salespeople who are still adhering to the “old model” of selling! If you’re unfamiliar with what the ‘old model’ is, it’s safe to say that you’re still using it. If you call or meet with prospects and give them a long-winded presentation or pitch about all the great ‘features’ of your product or service – then that, my friend, is the old model of selling.
There’s a new model, however — one that Miner creates and teaches his students. This new model helps salespeople emotionally engage prospects where they want to open up to you from specific persuasive questions that you ask. To understand the new model of selling, let’s survey the three forms of communication Miner created that are central to the new model.
- Engage, don’t tell.
That long-winded pitch or presentation that you’re giving to prospects is wildly ineffective, because you’re telling them your solution far too early in the conversation rather than engaging with them. “We are actually the least persuasive when we tell people to do things,” Miner told me. “In the old model of selling, we’ve been taught to believe that talking about all your features and benefits and how great your company is will somehow lead to the sale. This ends up coming across as pushy and aggressive, and does little to actually persuade.”
He says that on the other hand, engaging someone in conversation is entirely different, because it’s two-sided. No one is telling anyone to do anything, it’s a two way conversation to see if we can even help them in the first place. “I advise my students to let the prospect do most of the talking — about 80 percent of the conversation,” Miner added.
- We are more persuasive when we interact with each other and discover from each other.
To dive deeper into what engaging means, it’s simply the process of “interaction and discovery.” Think of this as a conversation with a newfound acquaintance sitting next to you on a plane or someone you meet at a friend’s dinner party. If you start a conversation, it’s two-sided in an interactive sense. You’re both asking questions and learning from each other. There’s no ulterior motive that can spike their post-trust era senses and cause them to become skeptical that you are just trying to sell them something.
You may have found that in these conversations where the chief motivation is this discovery and interaction that sales happen far more naturally. If the conversation leads into a problem that they’re having at work or in their company, and your product or service happens to solve it, how does the conversation feel? You suggest it as a potential solution, without jumping into the full-blown presentation. This is how we are the most persuasive.
The second form of communication is asking logical based questions. “This form of selling, known as Consultative selling, came out in the late 1980’s with books like SPIN Selling. Salespeople were taught how to ask questions about the needs of the client, like, “What’s the biggest problem that keeps you awake at night?” But what’s the problem when you only ask logical based questions? Well you get logical answers in return. And do people buy based on logic or emotion? Brain studies prove that it’s 100% emotion now. So, these questions are more persuasive than giving a sales pitch or being pushy. But, this method is still playing the numbers game as very little emotion is brought out by only asking logical based questions,” Miner informed me.
Dialogue is the third and perhaps the most important form of the three forms communication Miner created, and is rooted in the process of asking these Neuro-Emotional Persuasion Questions, or NEPQ. This form of communication engages the prospect emotionally through a dialogue that leads them to talk about their problems, what has caused the problem, how its affecting them, potential solutions and the consequences if they don’t do anything about solving their problems. Again, this should consist of an 80/20 dialogue rule, with the prospect always doing most of the talking.
Miner shared that his NEPQ’s feature the following types of questions:
- Connecting Questions, which put the focus on them straight out of the gate, and off of you, the salesperson.
- Situation Questions, which helps us to understand their current situation. An example is,
“What are you doing now…?”
- Problem Awareness Questions, which helps both you and the prospect identify any current problems they are facing. An example is, “What do you like/don’t like about…?”
- Solution Awareness Questions, which moves the dialogue from the problem into potential solutions, including an understanding of steps they may have already taken to find a solution.
“What have you done about this, if anything?”
- Consequence Questions, which establish a sense of urgency by talking them through what will happen if they don’t follow through with solving the problem: “What if you don’t do anything about this problem and your situation gets worse?”
- Qualifying Questions, which re-emphasizes why finding a solution is important to them. “How important is it for you to change your situation and….?”
- Committing Questions, which take them to the close: “Do you feel this could be the answer for you? Why though?”
By answering these questions in the new model of selling, prospects persuade themselves by hearing themselves talk. It guides them emotionally to buy what you’re selling, because they’re able to tell themselves how it will help them. Learn more about Miner’s mode of selling at 7thlevelhq.com.