Read and React: Know your Prospect

Hearing and listening are two completely different things; someone may say something that we hear, but was the message actually received? Many sales opportunities have been lost due to a lack of communication, based on a lack of understanding. The truth is that prospects are like the rest of us: they may say one thing but imply something else entirely, or if you can read between the lines, they present more information to you than they mean to. The more that you can understand your prospect, the more you appear to be a trusted advisor. As we explained last week, the trusted advisor is the key to modern-day selling. In order to read and react to your prospect’s words, you’ll need to understand the differences of implicit and explicit reasoning.

Explicit reasoning is deriving to a logical conclusion based on any information that is directly said and/or explained to you. This is where many sales reps do not understand what the prospect is really telling them and lose the sale. If you understand what the prospect says through explicit reasoning, then you’ll know what information is relevant and irrelevant to the prospect’s needs. For example, if you’re selling a website domain and a prospect says “I already have my own website,” then proper explicit reasoning will tell you that the prospect does not need a website domain and will not buy yours. However, just because the prospect does not have a need for your product doesn’t mean that they can’t find value in your solution.

Implicit reasoning is deriving a logical conclusion based on information that is implied through what the prospect tells you. Implicit reasoning is based on asking questions to confirm suspicions, but also incorporates verbal queues and undertones. This is where reading and reacting becomes difficult; you can arrive at a conclusion based on speculation, but to increase your chances of arriving at a valuable insight, you should be confirming through the use of SPIN questions. To continue with our example, your prospect may have their own website that does well, but your prospect says “The website is functional and gets a good amount of views per day, but sometimes it’s difficult to monitor the web-tracking.” This would be a good point to ask a SPIN question like “How do you monitor the web-traffic to your website?” or “What’s the most difficult part about monitoring it?” If you ask the prospect the right types of questions, you can help them discover a problem that your product can solve. In other words, your prospect might not need a website, but they could use a tool to monitor web-activity more effectively, which is something you may be able to provide them with.

The only way to sharpen your read-and-react skills is through practice. As to its nature, read-and-react is something that is unique to a conversation; what works for one call may not work on another. The most important thing to practice is being able to pick-up on verbal queues, changes in pitch or tone, and finding hidden undertones. With these skills, you can use explicit reasoning to discover where the prospect is, then use implicit reasoning to find out where they want to be. By practicing these skills, you will able to make logical assumptions based on the information given, then ask the necessary questions to confirm your suspicions and find actionable insights. Being able to analyze what a prospect is saying, helping them understand their problems, and providing your solution as the best fit, leads to better sales efficiency and more closed deals.

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