Psychology of selling, Pt. 1: The first 8 minutes

By Michael Lovas

AboutPeople


The sales process is not a single process, but rather a system of processes. If you don’t now which process comes first, you’ll be shutting the door in your own face. The first process is intended to capture the prospect’s attention. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

Here’s the scenario: You meet with someone new to you. Let’s say you visit a prospect at his office. Our experience is that in less than one second, you’ve already made the subconscious first impression. Then, you have about seven seconds to make the conscious first impression.

Next, you have less than a minute to capture his attention. Then, about one minute to make a credibility and relevance connection. Then, you have about three minutes to establish some kind of rapport.

Here is the danger: While those objectives may seem obvious, most people stumble through them, and very few people actually know how to accomplish them consistently. To accomplish them, you actually need to learn some very specific skills. (In a short piece like this, we can’t go into much detail, but feel free to message me for more information).

See where we’re trying to go here? Every meeting is a process of processes. If you don’t know what the processes are, you can’t expect to succeed with them. And, if you don’t have the skills to achieve them, you’re likely to become a victim of the processes. But that’s not the main point.

The big picture: The big picture strategic objective in the first eight minutes is to get the prospect to discuss his situation openly. That’s an interesting puzzle. How can you get him to talk if you’re doing all the talking? You can’t. So, your strategy for the entire conversation is to ask relevant questions and then shut up. That’s how you establish your credibility, and it’s the credibility that buys you permission to remain in the conversation.

Objective No. 1: capture attention

What might you do to capture someone’s attention?
  • You might do a theatrical pratfall as you walk across the room. That could actually work, but you also risk looking like a buffoon.

  • You could do a magic trick or tell a joke. Again, you’d risk looking like a buffoon.
I list those absurd introductory antics merely to illustrate the position of this objective. It’s the tip of the spear. Every rock and roll song begins with an ear-catching introduction. Every novel and movie starts with an establishing scene intended to capture your fascination. The point: capture attention, but do it in a credible way.
Objective No. 2: make a connection

Sales people tend to do two things: 1) talk about themselves, or 2) try to manipulate the prospect. Neither approach is very effective. How you handle the opening determines if the prospect will accept you or reject you.

So realistically, what could you do that would position you as a person to be taken seriously? What could you do that would establish a circle of safety around you two? We teach our clients to begin talking about something that is relevant to the prospect, and to use non-verbal cues, including:
  • Matching the prospect’s facial expression.

  • Matching the prospect’s energy level.
Objective No. 3: demonstrate credibility and relevance

This is where you demonstrate your credibility by referencing third party objective research, and where you show your relevance by asking relevant questions.

In closing

I’ve been studying the sales process for about 20 years. Over those years, I’ve found that it’s not a single process, but rather a system of processes. If you don’t know which process comes first, you’ll be shutting the door in your own face. The first process is intended to capture the prospect’s attention. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

In subsequent articles, I’ll explain the steps in more detail.

Your reward

If you like what you just read, then you’re in luck. Copy this paragraph from ProducersWeb and message me and I will send you our report, “6 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Communication Credibility.”