Today's blog post is by Christine Harrington, The Savvy Sales Lady. She is a facilitator for Peak Performance Mindset Workshop and a personal sales coach. Christine helps sales professionals develop their beliefs to improve their sales performance.
At some point in my selling career, I became mystified about one aspect of selling. Take two salespeople with similar sales training and skill sets: Why could one close the sale while the other walked away with nothing?
Both salespeople followed the same sales process, asked the same compelling questions, and closed the sale the same way, yet one won the sale and the other lost. Why?
If selling was simply about following a sales process, shouldn’t all salespeople be successful who follow the same selling process? Sounds logical, right?
I began to suspect it might have something to do with the intangible qualities salespeople project during interactions with buyers. After all, buyers are more likely to purchase from people they like rather than people they dislike.
Recently, I had an experience that put this issue into context for me personally. During the same week, two different people at two different events approached me and asked if everything was all right with me. I must admit the question surprised me.
“Why, sure. I’m groovy,” I answered in a quizzical fashion.
“You look and sound kind of irritated,” came the answer.
She said that, during the workshop, my expressions had seemed to indicate I was upset – and I sounded upset too. I thanked her for making me aware of my facial and voice expressions.
A few days later at a networking event, a good friend, who was also the coordinator of the event, asked a similar question.
Now my antenna was on high alert. Two people in one week asking the same question. What’s up with my face and voice?
When I pressed my friend for a deeper answer, she soothingly said, “You’re usually all smiles and giggles, but tonight you’re all frowns and sound down. Are you feeling OK?” Whoa…ouch!
Compelled to find an answer, I dug into research to help me figure out what I might be projecting. Here’s what I found.
John Ohala, Linguistics professor at Berkeley, did a rather intensive study on “The Acoustic Origin of the Smile.” From an anthropological viewpoint, you’re not smiling to look friendly, but to sound friendly.
In sales, how many times have you heard to keep a mirror on your desk? During a phone call, smile into the mirror – it causes you to sound friendlier.
Well, back in 1980, John Ohala proved this to be true! You’re on the right track if you’re smiling, while on the phone, because you’re using your smile for its intended purpose…to sound friendly.
Sally Hogshead, in her book Fascinate, states, “A smile was the original social medium.” She goes on to say, “Digital technology might introduce a new device every week, but from an evolutionary perspective, we’re still the same humans. We’re constantly searching each other for clues about emotions. (Case in point: the popularity of emoticons.)”
The answer was staring me right into my frowning face: I had stopped smiling! The unintended consequence was a change in my voice from friendly to irritated!
In my quest to be a serious sales educator and coach, I had moved away from smiling and replaced it with a frown. Why I subconsciously made the switch, I’m still uncovering. But, in the meantime, I’m back to smiling!
If you’ve found yourself losing sales, I offer this suggestion: Ask other people you trust to give you solid feedback about your facial expressions and voice tones.
As salespeople, not only do your questions need to be compelling, but YOU need to be compelling too. You can fascinate your prospect each time you interact by the warm tone of your voice and by every twinkle of your expressions. You can’t do this if you’re not smiling.
Sound too simplistic?
Every day, you evaluate people based on a simple gesture…the handshake. Hundreds of unconscious impressions are made by extending a hand to a stranger or to a friend. In a flash, you make an evaluation of the person by how powerfully or weakly they shake your hand. A strong handshake sends a signal of confidence. A weak handshake says timid.
Consider this: In this age of technology, apps, CRM, inbound processes, outbound processes, and sales enablement journeys – all designed to help a salesperson be more productive and efficient and sell more – take a step back. Take a step back from the sterile technology and instead step into the fascinating humanness of you as the salesperson interacting with the humanness of the prospect.
What are the natural cues you’re sending? A firm or weak handshake; a smile or a frown; a warm tone or irritated sound.
In sales, you’re trying to get the prospect to “do” something, which is buy your product. You can’t win the sale if you can’t persuade the prospect to engage with you. What kind of behaviors are you trying to evoke from the prospect? To inspire the buying behavior within the prospect, consider persuading and influencing with your natural cues – with your smile, tone of voice, and handshake as examples.
Here’s my challenge: Examine the involuntary or voluntary body language cues you’re sending during the sales process, cold calling, and interacting when networking. Be consciously aware of your smile and the friendly tone it creates in your voice. Record yourself and analyze where you can improve your tone by adding a smile.
There are many reasons salespeople might lose a deal – but the lack of a genuine, authentic smile should never be one of them!
Christine helps sales professionals develop their beliefs to improve their sales performance. If you’re looking to break through to the next level (or your team’s), click here for more information.