Guest Blogger John Martinez: Why Selling the “Old Way” No Longer Works

Many believe that the ability to sell is some kind of magical talent…a gift…a special ability given to only a select few. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you have the discipline to follow a process, then you can sell.

But, here’s the problem. Everything you “know” about sales is probably wrong. That’s a bold statement…I know. The truth of the matter is that we just didn’t have the tools, data, or resources to study sales, and how people really make decisions, until recently.

Take the mantra of “always be closing” for example. We now know through a study of 35,000 sales calls over the course of 12 years that the more times a salesperson asks for a sale, the less likely he/she will be to get it. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Let’s look at two prospect behaviors that make real estate entrepreneurs around the world cringe: prospects who disappear (go dark), and prospects who mislead you or hold information back.

Have you ever been working on a deal, feeling pretty good about things, when your prospect falls off the face of the Earth? You can’t get a hold of them. They don’t return emails, phone calls, or even text messages. They simply vanish. The scenario described is not uncommon.

Another scenario common to the world of selling and deal making is one in which your prospect doesn’t always tell you the whole truth. This can sound like “I make the decisions”, “your price is too high”, “your offer is too low”, or countless others. These little white lies can be about things like how they are making their decision, what people or things will influence that decision, or what their current situation really looks like.  These prospect behaviors can get under any salesperson’s skin. But more importantly, the less a salesperson knows, the less likely they are to be able to craft the appropriate solution or help the prospect. Unfortunately for both parties, this often leads to a lose/lose outcome.

Here’s a news flash. We are not allowed to be upset at our prospects for these behaviors. It’s not their fault. In fact, it’s always the salesperson’s fault. A prospect responds to a salesperson’s actions.

When you get undesired prospect responses, it’s only because you were approaching the sale the wrong way.

Let’s dive a little deeper. Why do prospects disappear? Prospects hide when they feel like no matter what they say or do they will be pressured into a “yes”. How do you treat those never-say-die salespeople we have all encountered? I’m willing to bet you simply avoid them. You stop taking their calls or returning emails, right?

You see, when a prospect goes dark, it’s simply because you did not tell them, or they do not believe, they have the right to say “no”. This also happens to be one of the reasons that prospects sometimes mislead you or omit information. They are afraid that any concern or objection they have will be met by a salesperson trying to “overcome that objection”.

Many people who attend my sales training classes want to know how to overcome objections. Bad news – you can’t. Only prospects can get over their own objections. It’s the salesperson’s job to help them do that through strategic questioning. However, if the prospect feels the salesperson will fight and push for that “yes”, they will not share their concerns or mislead the salesperson in order to end the conversation or sales process. The salesperson will never even have a chance to uncover the real concern or objection, let alone help the prospect overcome it.

Everything we used to “know” about sales is wrong. Through the use of fMRI technology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, psychology & other social sciences, biology, and genetics we now have a much better idea of how people make decisions. Armed with this knowledge, and some simple tools, we now know how to easily find the prospect’s internal motivation and create an urgency to take action. That being said, many salespeople are still selling the “old” way (the traditional way), and forcing their prospects to behave in ways salespeople wish they wouldn’t.

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