Hold The Frame, Win The Game: Teach Your Team These Three Sales Skills In 2020
Ishouldn’t be able to close deals. My style is one that contradicts everything a traditional sales team teaches. Yet it works. When I first started in sales, I was terrified. In fact, I can remember making cold calls, having someone pick up the phone and hanging up because I was caught off guard. That’s messed up, isn’t it? It’s safe to say I made no money in my first 18 months of selling.
I started to realize where the disconnect was that kept me from closing deals: I was trying to mirror what I thought sales reps were supposed to do. It’s a bit ironic when you realize that, according to Hubspot, sales reps in industries like IT only close about 1 out of every 5 deals, which means 80% of their time and energy goes straight down the toilet.
Everything changed for me when I started to focus on holding the frame for my prospects — which led me to close my first Fortune 500 deals in my teens and make $1.1 million in revenue at 19. The frame is made up of the space, rules and expectations you create for the relationship between you and your audience. An example of a prospect holding the frame is when you’re begging them to jump back on another phone call and asking them to “please give you a few minutes” to share more information with them. You’re at their beck and call. On the other hand, a sales executive who holds the frame sounds more like this: “If priorities change, let me know. In the meantime, best of luck.” See the difference?
Here are three simple skills your team can use to hold the frame for your prospects, which can ultimately lead to winning the game of sales. (Yes, it’s a game.)
- Talk To Your Prospect Like A ColleagueI’m not going to go to the extreme of saying you should pick up the phone and say “Hey, bro” to your prospect. Have professionalism, but talk to your prospect like a colleague. Why? It puts you on the same level as your prospect. Many sales teams talk up to their audience. They place them on a pedestal and hope to get time on the calendar. When you start to look at your ideal customer as a peer, you change the dynamics of the conversation.You wouldn’t beg your colleague to help them solve a problem, would you? You’re going to let them know you have the value they need and help them. That’s the relationship you want with your customers. If you start chasing your customers and wording your messaging in a way that comes off as begging, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. While you run toward the prospect, they’re likely running away.
- Set Expectations And Require ActionCan we all agree that meetings stink? I don’t know anyone who enjoys having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting without achieving any outcomes. It doesn’t make sense. Yet, that’s how many of us approach sales meetings every day. We set up a time, communicate information and that’s the end of that. Your goal in a sales meeting, demo, etc., should be to define the next steps and execute them. In my experience, information doesn’t drive results — action does. Next time your sales team has a prospect meeting set up, have them clearly define what the intent is and what they expect to happen in the first five minutes of the call — first for you and then for the prospect. Instead of “thanks for taking the time — I’ll send you more info,” your conversations should end with, “What you’re going to do next is ABC. Let’s set up a time right now to check in and make sure you’re on the right track.”
- Drive Clarity About New PossibilitiesI’m bored on most sales calls. I do my homework before I let someone pitch me or provide a demo. Don’t we all? Yet, many sales teams are trained to get on the phone and walk us through exactly what they do, how they do it and why they’re the best. Unfortunately, many people simply don’t care. People need to understand the new possibilities your solutions are going to bring to their life and the pain they’re going to eliminate. In my experience, we don’t buy what is objectively the best. We buy what we can relate to the most, which is our personal view of what’s best. Train your team to recognize what truly matters to your prospect and focus solely on those areas.
When sales is done wrong, it’s complicated, convoluted and full of gimmicks. Taking the three principles laid out above and putting them into practice daily can be easy and changes the entire frame of the sales conversation. They can help ensure you have the authority in the conversation and that you become someone your prospects want to work with — not someone who schmoozed and chased their way into a deal.