Finding your selling rhythm
One wouldn’t think that selling has anything to do with rhythm, but it does. And why not? Rhythm is important in virtually every other part of life. In sports, boxers, pitchers, tennis players, golfers and quarterbacks all need rhythm to excel. In music, rhythm is, of course, essential. A good public speaker has rhythm in his or her speech; great actors have unique rhythms in their voices; and nature is full of rhythm — the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the phases of the moon, the tides of the ocean and so on.
If rhythm affects almost everything else, why not selling?
Here are the elements of selling rhythm that I find important for me. When these rhythms get out of sync, my selling suffers.
1. Meeting time rhythm
Each meeting I have with a client has a time range associated with it. When I go beyond those ranges, my selling suffers. For example, my first meetings take an hour to an hour and a quarter. If I lose focus during the meeting, go off on tangents or if I let my clients take control of the meeting somehow, my meeting starts to run long. I have found that the longer meetings are not nearly as productive as my more rhythmic meetings and I make fewer sales with these clients.
2. Speaking rhythm
I adjust the rhythm of my voice based on the rhythm of my client’s speech pattern. If they are quick, I tend to be quick; if they are soft, I, too, am soft. Matching speaking rhythm allows clients to hear better, as they are used to their own speech pattern. When I lose my speaking rhythm when speaking with clients, I find that communication suffers; my clients just don’t hear me as clearly as they do when I do a good job of creating a rhythm that they are comfortable with.
3. Appointment rhythm
My selling cycle is three to five appointments. I tell my clients, right at the first meeting, that I work a week at a time, and that if we don’t have regular meetings, we’ll always feel like we’re starting over each time we meet. If they are going on vacation, we begin when they come back. If they don’t agree to meet regularly, I often disqualify them as clients. If they keep missing meetings, the upset in appointment rhythm often upsets the sale.
Often, I ask my clients to book two appointments in a row, just to be sure we stay in the appointment rhythm.
4. Content rhythm
I use a selling system, meaning each part of the sale is the same all the time, just like FedEx is a system — you put your package in the bin and it appears at the right time and place all over the world. In the same way, I have to put my client into each section of my system in order to get what I want at the end of the sale: a clear decision, yes or no. I find it's imperative to watch the time I spend in each compartment of my system and keep my clients moving forward. I have found that if I get caught in one compartment with my client, thereby losing the flow of the meeting, the meeting begins to stagnate and lose energy. Moreover, I find that if I let my clients dictate the rhythm of the meeting, they begin to get too comfortable and are able to think of stalls, or how to hide on me, or different strategies they have used in the past on traditional sales professionals. If I keep my clients in my rhythm, they keep moving and are always more honest and straight with me.
5. The rhythm of changing rhythm
Top professionals are always changing rhythm in order to keep their opponents off balance. I do the same in my selling. Sure, I want my clients to be comfortable, but I also want them a little off balance. So I will consciously change my speech pattern from matching theirs, change my volume, use different visuals and sometimes even interrupt my clients while they are speaking. (Yes, I said that. And it’s OK). Once off balance, clients can’t get into their traditional selling defenses and, as I talked about above, they become more honest with me and talk to me as an adult rather than as a salesperson. If I do the same we develop a whole new dimension of selling, where we are talking adult to adult and selling or being sold isn’t an issue.
Rhythm infuses every part of our lives and our selling. The question is, “Are you following them?” If not, and your sales meetings are groaning along day after day, you and your clients are losing a great opportunity. The next time you speak, put some rhythmic moves on the table and break out of your old patterns. If you do, pretty soon you will have enough rhythm going that you will be dancing all the way to the bank.