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In my last blog post, I promised to reveal how you can avoid the number one mistake salespeople make.

When you avoid this mistake, you can win a sale in as little as seven seconds.

Now, before you blow me off saying that nobody buys anything after only seven seconds, let me explain. To make a big sale, you first have to make a series of smaller sales. Your first sale is to pique a decision maker’s curiosity enough that they agree to set aside time on their calendar to learn more.

Unfortunately, while trying to do this, most salespeople make the number one mistake in sales -- using nouns to describe what they sell.

Huh? How do I get people to buy something if I can’t tell them what I sell?

The short answer is to use verbs that describe the outcome of being your customer, instead of nouns that describe your product or service. Do this correctly and the prospect asks, “How do you do that?”

Here are a few examples:

  • We help CFOs eliminate inventory write-downs
  • We help trucking companies become the preferred supplier
  • We help warehouse managers eliminate equipment incompatibility

I once heard someone describe the process of piquing interest as building a bridge. The way bridges were built in the old days was by using a bow and arrow with some thread tied to the end of the arrow.

Once the arrow was shot across the valley, a person on the other side of the valley would retrieve the arrow and pull on the thread that was attached to it. At the end of the thread there was some string.

The person would then pull on the string and at the end of the string there was some rope. That rope was strong enough to move materials back and forth and you could then build a bridge, eventually meeting in the middle.

But a rope strong enough to build a bridge is too heavy to throw all the way across the valley.

The same is true with sales. The thread is the value of being your customer and the rope is the product or service you sell.

Unfortunately, most salespeople start with nouns (rope) to describe the product or service they sell -- prompting the prospect to say something like, “Oh, we already use X vendor for that.” At this point, the conversation is over because you failed to build a bridge between you and the prospect.

In the examples I shared above using verbs (thread), the prospect does not have enough information to come up with this objection, so they pull on the thread by asking, “How do you do that?”

When they say this, don't tell them!

Instead, say that it takes 15 to 20 minutes to do a proper job of explaining how and ask them when would be the best time for that call and who should be the second person from their company on the call.

The reason you want another person from the company on the call is that if it’s only you and one person on the initial meeting, what do you think happens as soon as they hang up the phone? They immediately move on to the next thing on their list and you lose sales momentum.

When you have a second person from the company on the call, what typically happens when the call ends is the two of them talk about your idea(s) together, lessening the chance that either will forget or get distracted.

This increases your odds of getting a second, and even third meeting. And when you’re the first salesperson on the scene, you can use the call to help the decision maker define their problem and design the solution. In doing so, you are up to 10 times more likely to close the deal.

If they’re not willing to put a second person on a 15 or 20 minute call, I suggest you move on to the next prospect because without a second person, you’ll be pushing rope instead of having them pull on thread -- and we all know how well that works.

So the next time you leave a voicemail or someone asks you what you do, resist the urge to throw rope (nouns) across the valley between you. Instead, tie some thread to an arrow with a verb-based value proposition (outcome) of being your customer and fire that across the valley.

The best part? It takes seven seconds or less.

In my next blog post, I’ll share how to minimize the chances of a decision maker calling their current vendor to tell them of the ideas you shared on your 15 to 20 minute call.

P.S. My favorite verbs for a seven second sale are ones like “reduce,” “minimize,” or eliminate.” In my experience, verbs that call attention to the negative are 10 times more effective at getting people to change than positive verbs like “grow,” “improve,” or “maximize.”

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Originally published May 27, 2015 8:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

Sales Communication