Pull, not push
Depression-era salespeople spend a lot of their time endlessly chasing prospects. Many are in mindlessly in the pursuit mode and hence most sales people have a reputation for being pushy. Customers actively shy away when they see the pushy sales people coming.
The first step in ninja selling is to get people coming to you, to attract them rather than to pursue them. There are two key points to this:
- People tend to move toward someone they like and trust, someone they feel comfortable to be with.
- People move toward value.
The mission then is to
- Position yourself as a likable and trusted advisor, not as a pushy salesperson.
- Create value your prospects want, and they’ll be automatically attracted to you.
Ninja selling is about asking the right questions to determine the customer’s pain and pleasure and then offering a solution.
Ask, not assume
How do you know the problems of your prospects or what makes their lives better off? How do you discover their pain-reliefs? The answer is simple, yet not so easy. Ask them!
Studies suggest unless the salesperson sounds very compelling, most customers will instantly disconnect in as fast as two minutes. We call this the two-minute warning. When the prospect asks you a question, your response needs to be under two minutes. If it takes more than that, you might periodically check in by asking questions like ‘Are you with me so far?’ or ‘What questions do you have so far?’
Ask FORD questions
Ninjas are masters of asking the FORD questions and are great listeners. FORD stands are Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams.
FORD – Family
- Where are you originally from?
- How’s the family?
- What’s your son doing?
FORD – Occupation
- What do you do during the day?
- How’s business?
- What industry are you in?
FORD – Recreation
- What do you do for fun?
- Did you go to the game last weekend?
- What trips do you have planned?
FORD – Dreams
You’ll rarely ask someone directly ‘what are your dreams?’. Instead, you’ll ask:
- What are your plans for the holidays?
- Do you have any trips planned this summer?
- Your daughter is graduating this spring. What are her plans?
Are these easy questions to ask? Definitely. Do people enjoy answering them? Of course. Who doesn’t like talking about their family, life and dreams? As they’re sharing information, they feel they’re in control of the conversation and more importantly, feel that you care about them. Your relationship is being built without knowing.
The next question, and the next…
Your next question is embedded in their last answer.
“Where are you from originally? Are you native of Colorado?”
“No, I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and went to the University of Nebraska.”
“Really? I have friends who went to school there….when were you there?”
Proactive vs pursuer
Ninja sellers build relationships as a proactive advisor. Here are five rules they follow:
- Show up.
- Pay attention.
- Tell the truth.
- Create value
- Don’t get attached to the outcome.
Rule #1 Show up.
Ninja sellers show up for their work and always be on time for their customers.
Rule #2 Pay attention.
Ninja sellers are fully present with their customers. They listen carefully to understand, not to be understood.
Rule #3 Tell the truth.
Ninja sellers gain the commitments of their customers by telling them the truth. And they do what they say.
Rule #4 Create value.
Ninja dealers look for ways to solve problems and make their customers feel good.
Rule #5 Don’t get attached to the outcome.
Ninja sellers follow the first four rules and let money take care of itself. They understand that as soon as they start focusing on the commission, customers can sense ‘commission breath’.
Four steps to ninja selling
Most sales people have been taught the traditional 3-step selling process. First, they make a connection, then a presentation and finally close the deal. Instead, ninja sellers follow a four-step process. Here’s how it works:
Step #1 Connect
Customers want to work with someone they like and trust. And they decide this within the first two minutes. Do they feel a connection with you? Do they want to go down this path with you?
Step #2 Inform
Instead of pitching non-stop, you start gathering information via a planned set of questions that keep your customer connected and help you discover their pains and pleasure.
Step #3 Solve
You help your customers decide a solution that is right for them. Two keys here are for them to be clear and confident about their decision.
Step #4 Propose
You propose potential solutions. You don’t sell. You solve. Knowing the science of how people process and store information is a key to providing a powerful consultation
What’s a soft closing question? It’s an easy, low-risk question that requires a small, low-drama decision. Hard closing questions carry high risks and create drama because they require a big decision. Here’s an example of soft closing asks in real estate:
- Of the homes we’ve seen so far, is this one of your top three?
- Would you rate this an 85 percent or better home?
- Can you see yourself living in this home?
- Is this a home you’d like to own?
- When would you like to move in?
- Shall we make sure you don’t lose this home?
- Is there any portion of the home you would like to see again before we leave?
- Which home do you like better?