If you had a technique for ensuring that people would buy from you again and again or your boss would promote you on your terms not theirs or your competitors would sit around their conference table at midnight, night after night agonizing over how to successfully compete with you when you easily take business away from them and make it impossible for them to take business away from you – would you be interested? Read on, what I am about to share with you can guarantee your continued success and when you finish reading you will say to yourself, it can’t be that easy? But, I am here to tell you that after using this technique for my entire career, that it is.
Would you like people to do business with you because they like you, trust you, owe you, believe in you or some other very important reason? Each of these have varying degrees on importance and value when trying to secure and retain business in today’s competitive world. The idea I am about to share with you makes all of these inconsequential. So let me get to it.
The most valuable lesson I learned in my early career happened over forty years ago. I was failing in the insurance business - I didn’t sell anything in six months – I’m surprised it took my manager that long to terminate me. But, I’m getting ahead of myself so let me make a very long story short to illustrate the essence of this tremendous career idea.
In almost every sales presentation that I gave to prospects back in those days I kept hearing things like, “Tim you are really good at this. " “You are going to be really successful in this business. " “You really know your stuff. " “You have a great future in sales ahead of you. " Kind words from my prospects, YES, sales, NO. So in total desperation I met with a good friend who was also in the insurance business and one of the most successful and talented people in the country in the insurance business at that time. Larry was making over a million dollars a year selling insurance.
I shared my frustration and plight with him. I told him basically I was getting lots of compliments, but no sales. This is, as best as I can recall, his advice:
“Tim, when you give a sales presentation to a prospect, are you nice to them?" Do you give them the most important commodity you have, your time? Do you educate them? Do you give them the benefit of your experience?" My answers to all of his questions were yes. So Larry explained, “Here is what is happening. You are building a psychological debt with these people, essentially they owe you something and they don’t want to owe you especially if they have no intentions of buying so they want the debt paid before you leave. So they pay off this emotional or psychological debt with a compliment. Here’s the key, once you accept their compliment, the debt is paid. " Thus, no guilt in not buying from you.
Well, at the time I couldn’t feed my kids compliments, they wanted regular food so I said, “Larry, what do I do?" His response, “Refuse their compliments. You see, when you do not accept the compliments, the psychological debt still exists. "
“How do I do that, Larry?"
“Say to your prospect something to the effect, “If I were that good, we would be doing business together. " Or, “If I am going to be that successful, I would be better able to communicate the benefits of my proposal to you. I am sorry, but I don’t deserve that compliment. " By refusing the compliment the debt is still there. He continued, now, when you get a compliment and an order, you simply say ‘thank you very much. ’"
This one piece of advice has done more for my success in sales and in business as a speaker and trainer than any other idea or education I have ever been exposed to. I have read every sales book I have been able to get my hands on. I know personally most of the celebrity sales trainers and I have a sales audio library valued at more than twenty-five thousand dollars and I can honestly tell you this one technique when mastered can have a galvanizing impact on your life and career regardless of whether you are in sales or not.
Using this approach consistently in your business will do two very important things for you. One, it will competitor-proof your business, making it all but impossible to lose business no matter what your competitor’s tactics are and two, it helps you easily take business away from your competitors.
Let me give you a few brief examples of how I still use this idea forty years after receiving this advice from Larry.
I read a great article in a business magazine that effectively addresses a current and difficult issue a client or prospect is facing. I send them a copy of the article with a brief note, “Bob, thought this might interest you. "
Keep in mind you don’t build psychological dept when you sell something to a customer and when you solve one of their problems that relates to your product or service. The only time you build debt is when you send the clear message, “I am interested in your success, I care about your business whether it has anything to do with what I sell or not. "
Back to my example. Do you think that when Bob gets this article that the debt has just notched up a bit?
How about if a few weeks later I send him an audio CD by a speaker or trainer (could even be a competitor of mine. ) that gives him loads of great ideas on how to deal with his challenge? More debt? Yes. What if a few weeks after that I send him a copy of a best selling business book by another author that gives him even more information. More debt, Yes. What if I send him a copy of this book? See the point?
In order to make this idea work for you need to do two things. First, you need to know what their problems or interests are and I’m not talking about sending them a dozen golf balls, any idiot can do that. And I’m not talking about their problems as they relate to your products and services. And second you need to make it a strategy and process, not something you do once in a while when you need to increase your business.
I will guarantee you that sooner or later this debt will be paid in full by him in some way. He hires me to speak. He buys a bunch of my books. He recommends me to a friend. Here’s the problem once he has hired me, the debt is paid and I need to start building it all over again. The trick is to get it and keep it so high that it can never be paid off.
If you called a number of my clients and asked them why they hired me to speak to their groups you would hear things like, “I can’t get the debt paid. " He just keeps on building the debt. "
Eventually you can trade this debt in for almost whatever you want. Things like, no resistance to price increases. Late deliveries don’t become relationship busters. Quality problems or product short comings don’t eliminate you from consideration.
Are you getting lots of kind remarks about your ability, expertise and knowledge, but no sales or customers? Start building psychological debt and start today. Get creative, think out of the box. Keep asking yourself, what are my customer’s and prospect’s problems, needs, concerns and challenges that have nothing to do what my products or services.
I will guarantee you that fewer than one in ten thousand people understand and are applying this idea. Who are they? They have attended one of my sales boot camps or been in one of my seminars.
Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management, leadership and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; Soft Sell, That’s Life, Peace Of Mind, 91 Challenges Managers Face Today and Your First Year In Sales. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org , 704-895-1230 or visit his website at http://www.timconnor.com