I have been receiving an increasing volume of requests to provide greater insight into The Psychology of Buyers, so this is the first in a series of articles intended to provide improved understanding.
If you are going to help your prospects and clients succeed, you will need to gather lots of information from them. To obtain that information, you will need to ask questions. The intent of your questioning will determine your effectiveness. Despite a contrarian view from many of our egos, The Psychology of Buyers tells us that the majority of prospects do not trust salespeople, so prospective clients are continuously making decisions about what questions may be safe to answer. So ask yourself honestly-is the intent of your questions to facilitate mutual discovery in a way that feels good for your prospect, or to help you feel good or get what you want via manipulation or cleverness? Whose agenda are you really on?
The Biology of TRUST – Why Leading Questions Don’t Work
When a question is asked of a buyer, the question makes its first stop at the brain stem, to a tiny place on the stem called the amygdala. The amygdala, or Old Brain, is the GateKeeper of Trust. It determines flight, fright, and survival. So when the question is asked, our Old Brain determines the trustworthy-ness of the questions and whether it’s safe or unsafe to proceed. If, and only if, the amygdala determines safety will the question get routed to the New Brain, or neocortex. The neocortex is the rational portion of the brain where we think, analyze and make determinations of whether or not something may be true. So if clients don’t sense that your question is truly in their best interest, the “trust alarm” will be triggered, preventing you from facilitating mutually beneficial discovery and having "adult conversations”. You will never get to second base.
Don’t Act Trustworthy, BE Trustworthy
The Old Brain operates primarily on pattern recognition. Since most people have been programmed through past experiences to mistrust salespeople, this GateKeeper has become extremely savvy. If you behave like a salesperson by asking “leading questions” or trying to cleverly “create value”, then the amygdala will determine that you are not trustworthy. You will be guilty without a trial. Asking for trust or acting interested will not get it done. You must actually BE trustworthy. Aside from the fact that faking intent is shallow and unethical, it is also quite transparent.
Detach Yourself from Outcomes
Here’s the deal. The harder you try to “sell” someone, the less likely it is going to happen, and the more likely it is that the Old Brain will shut you out. If the GateKeeper shuts you out, information flow is stymied, and your likelihood to arrive at a solution perceived to be valuable diminishes greatly. If you are sincerely interested and honestly want to help people succeed, they will be more likely to share their beliefs about what success looks like for them. Your ability to find the right solution and win their trust increases. Believe it or not, it is in your own most selfish interest to focus on the interest of the prospect before focusing upon your own.
Goals and expectations are important, but selling success relies on a discipline to remain detached from our goals and external pressures (like the prodding of your sales manager) before you engage with prospects and clients. Check your ego at the door and actively listen to your clients with sincere interest and infinite, childlike curiosity. The great results will speak for themselves…
Copyright © Joe Zente 2010. All Rights Reserved.
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