“Pump and pounce,” “pitch slapping,” shutting up. Which of these go far to helping financial advisors get past “no” to “yes”? It’s unquestionably that third technique, as Jeb Blount, sales accelerator specialist, tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview. The first two yammering behaviors are deeply destructive, argues the coach, called “the modern-day Zig Ziglar.”
Many advisors talk too much instead of encouraging clients to tell their stories. Indeed, the information they reveal can be invaluable in helping FAs secure a buying commitment, says Blount, founder and CEO of Sales Gravy, a sales training and development company, and through which job seekers and employers can find one another.
The prolific author has just released his ninth book in 11 years: “Objections: The Art and Science of Getting Past No” (Wiley).
In the interview, he discusses a few of the actionable objection turn-around techniques revealed in his book. They largely focus on how to reduce sales resistance by dealing with the fear of rejection.
Blount points out, however, that to learn how to handle rejection, salespeople must seek out rejection: Ask for what you want “directly, assumptively, assertively and repeatedly,” he writes. In sales, “asking is everything. When you fail to ask, you fail.”
It is the financial advisor — and others selling products and services — who maintains emotional control in a sales scenario that has the highest probability of getting to “yes,” says Blount, 50. He spends the bulk of his time on the road giving keynote speeches and conducting sales training, the latter concentrating on reaching peak performance through emotional intelligence and effective interpersonal skills.
Prior to launching his own firm in 2006, Blount was the longtime vice president of sales for Aramark, a large provider of food, facilities and uniform services.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed the Augusta, Georgia-based coach, on the phone from Pacific Grove, California, where he was battling a deadline on his 10th book (having rented John Steinbeck’s historic cottage there “for inspiration,” he noted). He discussed, among a host of methods, how to handle the four types of sales objections, the “ledge technique,” the self-disclosure loop,” and how to develop empathy to better understand client needs — both emotional and financial.
Here are excerpts:
THINKADVSIOR: “In every sales conversation, the person who exerts the greatest amount of emotional control has the biggest probability of getting the outcome they desire,” you write. Please explain.
JEB BLOUNT: Emotional control is everything. That’s true for dealing with objections and for negotiating. What hurts salespeople is their own disruptive emotions [stemming from] things they worry about.
When do these surface?
When we treat an objection like rejection, for example. The emotions that come to us around objections and rejection happen without our consent. But we can rise above the emotion and choose the response that gives us the highest probability of getting past the objection to a yes.
You’re “rejection-proof” when you learn to master your emotions, so you write. How is that possible?
It’s not to say that we want to turn people into a bunch of cold robots. Being rejection-proof is knowing exactly how to deal with rejection when you face it. Then you can deal with the emotion and move past it. But to become rejection-proof, you need to seek out rejection by asking for what you want. Things that are a challenge to you change you.
Please explain “the ledge technique” to gain emotional control.
When you get hit with an objection, it kicks off the fight-or-flight response. The ledge gives you a “magic quarter-second” [so writes Tara Bennett-Goleman] to get into executive control and rise above that neurophysical response. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to say; it happens by rote.
If someone says, “I’m too busy,” you might say, “That’s exactly why I called.” Or if they say, “I want to think about it,” you can say, “When I make big decisions, I like to think about them too.” The ledge allows things to slow down so you can take control of your emotions and formulate [the most effective] response.
You write that “pump and pounce” is “the most destructive behavior” when dealing with objections. What is that?
It happens when the prospect or client says, “I want to look at some other options” or “I’m not really sure I want to do this,” and the advisor immediately starts arguing with them about why they’re wrong.
What should they do instead?
Have the patience to let the client put everything on the table so they can clarify what the objection [really] is. When dealing with someone’s money, you want to avoid arguing them out of the first thing you hear. To understand what’s holding them back, isolate the true objection. “Pump and pounce” is like playing whack-a-mole. You never win that game.
On the other hand, you write that “to be successful in sales,” you “must ditch your wishbone and grow a backbone.” Please elaborate.
Struggling salespeople are like rain barrels: Their mouths are under the sky waiting for something to happen. But the salespeople who are making a lot of money are assertive and assumptive — they’re going out and asking people for time, money, engagement. If you want to be successful in any role, you can’t wish for something to happen — you have to make it happen.
What are the four types of objections encountered in sales?
One set comes at the prospecting stage when you’re asking people to give you time. These are usually harsher than anywhere else in the sales process. The next set are red herring objections — things that prospects or customers say when you’re presenting that take you off your objective and end up derailing the meeting. The salesperson loses control because they treat this initial reaction as an objection rather than just moving past it and staying on their objective.