Sweet Smell of Sales Success
August 29, 2011 Leave a comment
3 Seconds to Sales Success
Engaging Team Interaction in Bottom-Line Brand Results
This article is written by guest blogger, CEO Coach and Brand Architect, Bryce Winter. Bryce has over twenty years of experience as a multi-disciplinary creative manager with luminary brands such as CHANEL, Virgin Records, TD Canada Trust and Rothman, Benson and Hedges. He currently specializes in cooperative approaches to brand strategy and brand communications. Bryce is the author of several sites including www.7secretstobranding.com and www.brandceocoach.com.
This expert article details how to apply THREE KEY ASPECTS of the 3 Seconds to Success rule to any sales process, dramatically improving your close ratio, and your overall results in terms measured by your clients’ satisfaction.
There is also a bonus rule at the end of this article, which could transform your service delivery mechanism, easily doubling your service effectiveness, and your ability to generate powerful referrals for you and your brand.
Back in the 1990s while leading a large marketing and merchandising firm in Western Canada, I taught a program called The Promise of More in Store to shopping mall managers, their tenants and other large retailers. The emphasis was on leveraging the 3 seconds (or so) of time that shoppers take in passing a storefront, to entice them into the store. I called this the 3 Seconds to Success rule.
Success Is Usually Engaged Within The First 3 Seconds of Contact
A lot of things have changed in the 15 or so years since that time, most definitively including my career and my medium of brand consultation; however it is a more than a little reassuring to find out that the 3 Seconds to Success rule still applies! Success (in sales, marketing, and business in general) is usually engaged within the first 3 seconds of contact—or not at all. Some things never change*. (*Whew! This comes as a real relief to those of us over the age of 28½, who were starting to think that nothing ever stays the same.)
Recently I had the pleasure of a debrief with a client who had just completed one of our keynote branding processes. Their overwhelmingly positive feedback was comprehensive, and provided me with insights to the vitality of engaging the 3 Seconds to Success rule throughout the Sales Process—and how you or anyone (anyone who’s motivated to succeed, that is) can do this as well. My client is well connected and has the power to make (or break) a reputation, so I consider their feedback gold—and I’m happy to share some of my ‘aha’ moments from this interview with you too.
Following are my three ‘3 Seconds to Success’ Retail Rules that Stood the Test of Time. The three rules are, #1: Promise big—and then over-deliver. #2: Give them a glimpse—but don’t show (or tell) how it works. #3: Provide a context for YOUR success.
Rule #1: Promise big—and then over-deliver.
On my first meeting with this (at the time) prospective client, I shared with them that our company has a proprietary process that will develop a new core brand message while developing 100% consensus around this message for all the team members they could bring to the table. I specifically remember the reaction was a raised eyebrow from one partner and a somewhat incredulous inquiry from the other. I calmly responded that I have delivered the process a score of times and have always had success—and saw no reason for it to be different in their case—in fact I guaranteed it.
It is vital you have internal clarity of your deliverables—and confidence in them. If you’re not prepared to guarantee your results, you should consider a different line of work. So long as you are confident—why not SHOW IT? Shout it out loud—or better yet, calmly state it, with just a hint of bravado.
During the recent post-services debrief with the same client, they shared that one of their key delights was how we (and our process) seamlessly engaged their team—and kept them engaged throughout the process—just as promised. Of course, this was not a surprise to me—our process is designed to do just that; however the fact I had specifically promised this as a deliverable made us that much more conscious of our promise throughout the service delivery period. (This may be helpful when the going gets a little rough, to remind yourself that over-delivery on a promise will help provide such a sweet smell of success, is it did later in this circumstance).
Rule #2: Give them a glimpse—but don’t show (or tell) them how it works.
Back in the day, my then partner had a unique method of creating animated window displays. Yup, window displays that moved. He told me I could sell all the displays I wanted, so long as I promised not to tell people how he did it. Today, a key tool we have developed and use consistently is the PEAK process role system, which helps quickly determine decision-making frames of reference (for anyone). The power of the tool is disarming, since most people are unaware of just how decisive their own perspective can be in how they interact with others. (Even if they are aware of this, they are usually unaware of HOW it impacts their ability to generate, and maintain group conversations). Therefore, before I meet with a client, I always have them complete the free online multiple choice self-test, which provides them with an instant report in their email in-box on themselves (favorite topic #1 for most people!), and provides me with their detailed test results. This does not subscribe them to any mailing lists or other services www.peakselfanalysis.com.
In my first meeting with this client, therefore, I was able to enter the meeting knowing more about them, than they (probably) knew about me, and could use their test results to provide them with insightful comments on their own decision-making processes, which usually occurs a little like the experience of sitting down with a psychic. I could almost see their brains clicking over, “How could he know that from my answers to a 5-minute quiz?” Consciously, what comes across is usually more reserved, like, “ya, that might describe me..” Now’s definitely the time to be modest—show, don’t tell. What I do mention is this is just a taste of what’s coming. Of course, that’s like waving a juicy bone under the nose of a bloodhound. He has to have it. (In retail merchandising we called this ‘The Promise of More in Store’ and it is as extremely enticing today as it was 15 years ago—only the technology has changed).
Remember, your universe-given gifts are just that, gifts. Giving your client a tantalizing taste of your unique process, service or product BEFORE they buy is pure salesmanship—and is as crucial today as it ever was. If you’re not prepared to provide ‘free samples’ of ‘your brand’, then it may be time to consider if you are really offering your gifts to the world—or not. (You must give in order to receive).
Rule #3: Provide a context for YOUR success.
Most consultants or service providers are concerned with setting up all the right elements to ensure success with their client—such as providing them with the right background information, learning tools or adequate time to provide their input to the process. Working with this client reminded how much MORE important it is to set the stage for your OWN success.
Once the ‘bait is taken’, and you have obtained agreement in principle on moving ahead (including the price), it is absolutely vital that you qualify YOUR moving forward with ALL the elements YOU NEED to successfully (and happily) provide your services. Often this is sweetened by your first providing a description of your extensive and/or exclusive guarantee. With this fixed in your (potential) client’s mind(s), now is the time to inform them that for you to provide this guarantee, they will understand you need certain things to be in place. Be realistic about your requirements and be direct. If you need cash up front to meet payroll, tell them your terms. If the only medium that works for you is video conferencing via Skype (specifically), tell them they must have a Skype account and when they need to be available. If they have to meet with you six times over eight weeks between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. Pacific on Tuesdays to Thursdays, for you to meet your promised deadline, let them know this very directly up front, and tell them the consequence for failure to do so. This is the time for you to ask for everything you need to succeed. Obviously, this includes the payment terms you require; however it may also include any number of creative aspects.
When we managed display merchandising for retail stores, part of our agreement was that NO store staff were permitted in the window display area(!). Your client does not have to like all these conditions, however if you have effectively set your promise (guarantee) up front, and ‘wow’ed ‘em with Rules #1 & 2, they will be willing to agree to almost any reasonable condition at this stage (be prepared to provide a plausible reason why you are making the request, in case you are asked—‘just because’ is not a good answer and could derail your sale at this critical juncture, prior to obtaining the final agreement). Carefully consider what client conditions predicate your success—and ask for all of them, up front. You will be surprised at how flexible clients can be when they are anticipating the guaranteed solution to an outstanding problem or need.
Your conditions may shift over time. One of mine that I have recently come across is the observation that meetings (for me) have a much higher failure rate when I am in a noisy, distracting venue—such as a coffee shop. My senses get over-excited and distracted by all the noise, clatter and passers-by, reducing my effectiveness and ability to listen. Since meeting in a coffee shop is frequently put forward as the first option, I have chosen to integrate into my sales process the ability to decline, and counter-offer substitutes instead. Being polite, but firm is usually respected. If it is not, ask yourself is this really the right client for you?
Following again are the Three Rules of the 3 Seconds to Success principle, in point form:
- Rule #1: Promise big—and then over-deliver.
- Rule #2: Give them a glimpse—but don’t show (or tell) how it works.
- Rule #3: Provide a context for YOUR success.
And here is a fourth “bonus” rule that could transform your entire service-delivery mechanism:
Rule #4: Your entire service delivery is part of your sales system.
Continue to apply the Three 3 Second Rules throughout your service delivery—and witness your effectiveness rate climb!
Using this method requires discipline, but it will keep you on game and generate the sweet smell of success sooner than any other method I know. Just read what it garnered in post-service comments from just this ONE recent client:
Thank you for your immense value…services were delivered with rigor and generosity…we didn’t realize the spectrum of deliverables would be so wide…the level of creativity was intense…the BISMAP report was an inescapable read…you seamlessly engaged the team—and kept them engaged throughout the process…you leveraged the team…the product was GREAT VALUE…we got a BIG, inclusive picture that is a clear fit…your framing of the product, company and service is HUGE…the category distinction really worked, and develops where we are playing.
Wouldn’t you like to generate these results with your next client interaction?
You can: just keep in mind ‘The Promise of More In Store’.