You probably don’t ask your prospects directly on sales calls, “Can we get vulnerable for a minute?” But in reality, that is what you’re requesting. Vulnerability.
When you sell something, you’re asking your prospect to make a change and admit that they could be doing something better than they are now. Change requires admission that you could be doing something differently. It spotlights inefficiencies and inadequacies related to how you currently do things. That admission requires vulnerability, and I’m willing to bet you are not considering that when you talk with your prospects. Likely, you’re talking about how great your solution is. You may even be asking some good questions to get the prospect thinking. But are you creating a relationship that feels safe enough to inspire them to admit that they could be doing something better?
Creating a safe, trusting relationship that leaves room for vulnerability and change doesn’t happen for the stereotypical “sales guy.” People feel gross when they get done talking to him because he twists their arm. He says that they should feel vulnerable, but he doesn’t take any action to make them feel comfortable. Reminding a prospect of their discomfort dares them to do something about it, but not every prospect has the machismo to accept the challenge. A safe place to get vulnerable requires that you create context around the challenge your prospect faces. Otherwise, you’re just a bully. Only other bullies like bullies.
So, what do you do to encourage vulnerability in your prospects? They will not be vulnerable with you or open to change if you don’t create an environment where they trust you and feel you can relate to them and truly help them. Here are two go-to ways I help my prospects feel comfortable getting vulnerable:
- Be vulnerable yourself.
This doesn’t necessarily mean showing weakness. It’s what you tap into when you address your common objections head on, such as, “I know we’re priced a little higher…” “I know you’ve been doing business with your current supplier for a long time…” “We’re new to the marketplace…” People don’t want to buy from companies who appear to be perfect. They want to work with companies who are aware of their own challenges and have had the ability to work through them.
- Be a resource.
When you are an expert in your field, you establish an environment where prospects feel you are a resource with their best interest in mind. When you focus on educating your prospects rather than selling them on your product/service, you learn a lot more about their unique needs and build a relationship in which they feel you understand them and are tailoring a solution specifically for their needs.
Don’t think about vulnerability in terms of weakness, think of it in terms of awareness. That awareness is what gives you the ability to influence and make change, and it will also set you apart.
Jeff Bajorek challenges sales professionals to rethink the way they sell. He helps sales teams design and implement sales strategies that focus on common-sense fundamentals that most people have either forgotten or ignored. He shares his sales expertise every week in his newsletter, on The Why and the Buy podcast, and on his YouTube channel. Visit Jeff’s resource library to download his latest eBooks.