7 Rules for Effective Sales 'Broadcasts'

Whether we realize it or not, as sales professionals, we all function as individual "broadcasting stations" to our prospects and candidates. The "pilot wave" we project on a regular basis is often subtle, even invisible, but can make or break a deal by either attracting or repelling our sales prospects. Clearly, our subliminal actions have a huge impact on our success. How often do you ask yourself, "What am I projecting?" or "What kind of effect am I creating?"

Make sure your broadcast is tuned in to the right signal, set to the right frequency, and on the right channel. Here are seven important concepts to remember when it comes to sending out the signals sales prospects are eager to receive:

1. Time is precious. We live in an accelerated, multimedia, multiscreen environment. While browsing social media on his smartphone, the average person is simultaneously "channel surfing" 800 channels on his TV, making decisions within seconds whether to stop and watch or move on.

Salespeople are viewed as another "channel" to either watch or discard. Since prospects tend to have such short attention spans, quickly demonstrating your value up front is critical. And you have just 10 to 20 seconds to make this happen before it's too late.

2. Know your prospect. Before a meeting or phone call, research your prospect and his business or organization. You should know (or be able to guess) the prospect's age, sex, industry, occupation, race, and background. It's also important to have an understanding of the issues and concerns that your prospect might be dealing with. During the conversation, remember to acknowledge his expertise, success, accomplishments, and standing in the community.

When you demonstrate respect to your prospect in the form of being prepared and showing an understanding of his needs, chances are that prospect will be more receptive and respond to your "frequency" much more favorably.

3. Show interest. The biggest compliment you can give to another person is your undivided attention. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their business, and when they discover that someone is truly interested and listening, they will open up and provide an amazing amount of valuable data and details. You've already paid your prospect a huge compliment by researching and learning about her in advance; now it's time to let her fill in the blanks.

Of course, this step requires a finely tuned ability to listen fully and with empathy. Don't talk about yourself or your company, or think about how you'll respond to what your prospect says; this is a time to simply listen and learn about her openly and without judgment. Gently guide the conversation to learn more about the prospect's concerns, worries, and challenges.

4. Know the subject. By now, you've built a degree of trust and rapport with your prospect. Now that you've signaled that you're interested (and have listened), your prospect will naturally turn the conversation around and ask a question or two about you or your company.

This is your curtain call: the moment where you get on stage and show your prospect that you really know your stuff—and his. Reinforce your expertise by using your prospect's industry jargon and technical expertise. Incorporating such words as we, us, and our further sends the "we're in this together" signal and tells the prospect that you're already on the same wavelength when it comes to knowing and understanding his products and services.

At the end of the day, your broadcast will clearly demonstrate that you are a qualified partner who knows how to bring benefits and value to your prospect.

5. Be well organized. Start your meeting by sending the signal that you are organized. Understand and clearly express your meeting objectives, and make sure that your prospect is in agreement so that he feels comfortable right away: "I'm going to cover these five points today" and "Today we're going to review the pros and cons of ____________."

Describe the prospect's problems and concerns, and offer possible solutions. Give your prospect the pattern. Also, provide backup with your notes, visual aids, and handouts.

6. Be sincere. This is one of the most complex signals you can broadcast, and one of the most important. As you proceed with your meeting, you want to send the message of being truthful, trustworthy, and genuine. Your prospect is constantly looking for clues as to how to judge you and your company, and it is vital that you present yourself simply, clearly, and without pretense.

If you have been successfully listening with empathy, you will know exactly what's in it for your prospect and you'll be able to judge for yourself whether your product/service is indeed a good fit for her business needs. At this point, you must have the integrity to either proceed or disengage with the sales process. Your message of sincerity and integrity is of paramount importance—and it can't be faked!

7. Finish. At the agreed-upon time, signal to the prospect that you are ready to conclude the meeting. Be sure to ask for and answer any final questions, recap the main points that were covered, and gain agreement on the next step in your sales process. If your prospect wants to spend more time (always a good sign), he will signal back that there's a few more minutes to spare. Keep in mind that prospects hate uncertainty and mystery, so signaling your next steps is vital.

At your next sales meeting, be sure to tune in to these seven important signals. You'll be astonished at the broadcast quality you'll receive in turn from your prospects—not to mention the results you'll begin to generate!

Patrick McClure is the founder of the Connexia Group, a consulting firm specializing in accelerating performance in sales, management, and presentation skills. His industry experience includes manufacturing, wholesale distribution, high technology, small business, and Internet start-ups.

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