How to improve learner engagement with eLearning

Trying to get your employees to learn something new can be a difficult task at times. It is common to get the “are we back in school?” vibe from them. That is because we just concentrate on “communicating” the new information to them. How do you change these things for the better? Through this post, we will tell you just that!

Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn”, said Benjamin Franklin.

Therein lays the answer! We need to focus on not only what we want to train our employees in, but also HOW we do it.

eLearning holds the key

eLearning is one of the most effective methods to provide your learners an engaging and immersive learning experience. Here is how to create eLearning courses that can engage and at the same time motivate the learners to complete the training; one that they can retain well. This is just one of the many advantages that eLearning has to offer

1. Gamify

Who doesn’t love a reward at the end of an effort? Catch up with the latest trend in eLearning and try gamifying your courses. It works on the same principles as that of a video game. The courses are divided into different levels as in games. To go on to the next level, you have to navigate, solve problems, earn points and take critical decisions by answering correctly. You win and learn at the same time! It is an ingenious way to keep your learner engaged and motivated till the end.

2. Scenario-based Learning

Stories always fascinate a human mind and scenario-based eLearning does just that… it tells a story! Presenting a scenario to the learner is a great way to put them in the problem solver’s shoes. Applying a scenario allows you a dry run; to be in situations that usually arise at workplaces and letting you experience the consequences of your actions. That is called a branched scenario. It is a good way to test a situation that is too risky to handle in the live environment. It also gives a good indication of how well one has understood a subject.

3. Videos

Videos tell us the best story in the least amount of time. Any tricky or complex concept can be explained more effectively with the help of a video. Videos engage more than one sensory organ at a time. They have the power to transport you to the actual action-scene. It enables greater grasping and understanding of the idea by stimulating your imagination in a better way.

4. Animations

Who said animation is only for kids? When it comes to animations, the sky is the limit for your creativity. Cartoons and animations can add fun and flair to an otherwise monotonous subject. In addition, animation is a good option to explain complex ideas, which are difficult to explain in theory or in practical where you cannot show the actual action unfolding. For example, the ABS braking system in cars can be explained very well using animation. Make sure to pair your animations with apt audio to pack in that punch!

5. Interactive elements

While creating an eLearning course, the right mix of interactive elements is necessary to make a course engaging. You can use elements like drag and drop, multiple select, single select options etc. to assess while elements like click and reveal, roll-over to teach. It will ensure that a learner thinks and remains engaged in the process

6. Micro-learning

In today’s world, people prefer T20 cricket matches to one day matches and web-series to a three hour long movie. Likewise, when it comes to eLearning, micro-learning is the hero who fights the problem of low attention spans. It packs a big punch in its small size. Micro-learning breaks down your course into small nuggets of information which can be easily accessed by learners even through their mobile phones! It is faster to create, pocket-friendly and engaging. The learners do not feel intimidated by its size. Do check if its goes with your requirement, as it is not suitable for subjects with complex and in-depth study


Sometimes, adding that dash of local culture to your course provides that much needed zing to make it interesting and engaging. Localisation is different from language translation. It means customizing your content to include cultural references that are suitable for the target audience. Including phrases and examples they are familiar with will surely improve their comprehension.

8. AR/VR in eLearning

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) give us that sci-fi movie-like feel. In VR, one has to wear the special headgear, completely transporting us into the virtual world. All your senses are totally engaged and you are unaware of your surroundings. The automobile industry has explored this option while helping their customers get a tangible feel of different variants of their vehicle. While in AR, digital elements are added to your very own surrounding. The Snapchat app or the Pokémon GO game are very good examples of AR. In eLearning, AR and VR take that leap by allowing the learner to physically interact with the elements in the course which makes it a completely immersive experience in the truest sense! It is yet to catch on the popularity wave here due to various reasons, cost being the major factor


So when you choose your eLearning course, make sure to have the one with the right interactive elements, the one that will bring out the best of your content. It should not only engage the learner but also incite them to think and help them retain the information. Last but not the least; it will help you assess your learner well.

Want to know how? Get in touch with us!

CategoriesSales Consulting

How to handle Objections & Close

Do you fear objections? On the contrary, you must embrace objections! Because, an Objection shows that the client is interested. The customer who has no questions to ask has no desire to buy!

What is an Objection?

Objections are doubts/ fears that customers need to resolve before taking a decision in your favor. Objections often are fears. You just need to handle them!

Objection = Fear. Objection handling = Fear Handling!

Why do customers raise objections? Customers raise objections due to one or more of the following doubts/fears: 

His fear/doubt What it means What you need to do
Do I really need this? You may not have discovered his real needs(Missing Step : AG) State your understanding of his needs; ask if you have got it right; ask more questions to find real needs
Is this the right solution for me? You have not convinced him about how your solution best meets his needs (Missing Step : AG) Confirm needs & Explain persuasively how your solution meets needs best
Is this priority for me now? Customer does not experience a sense of urgency to address his needs (Missing Step : AG) Ask Ramification and Value questions to create a sense of urgency
Am I getting the right price/terms: value! Customer has not understood or accepted the value added to his business by your offer (Missing Step : AG) Present the objective of you proposal; the likely impact on his business; & ask if it is important to him
Can I trust this guy & his company? You have not Achieved Rapport (Missing Step : AR) Achieve Rapport first!
Are they capable of delivering on their promise? You have not Achieved Rapport (Missing Step : AR) Achieve Rapport first!

If you take a hard look at these 6 doubts/ fears, you will see that the underlying theme is:

“Can I trust this Salesperson’s intentions & capabilities to do what is right for me?”

Can you see that your fundamental solution lies in building trust- through A-RAGA?

How do customers raise objections?

Customers show their objection in 3 forms:

  1. Through Questions
  2. Through Indifference: They look bored & unenthusiastic. They may redirect to someone inconsequential
  3. By conveying skepticism: ‘I don’t believe you/ your claims!’

Just because they have said all or any of this does not mean they don’t have a need

How do we handle these 3 forms of objections?

Questions reveal what is in the customer’s mind. (Refer the table above)

Indifference is to be handled by making a Statement that provokes him out of it. : e.g. “If I have a solution that could reduce your downtime by 25%, would you not be interested?’

Skepticism – When a customer conveys ‘I don’t believe you/ your claims’: First: Probe into the real reasons why he feels so

Next: Tackle in 3 steps:

  1. Pre-empt: State that you can substantiate your claims with proof. Don’t show them any documentation unless specifically asked for
  2. Ask: ‘What type of proof do you prefer? ‘: This will prevent him from later stating that the proof you present as inadequate
  3. Provide proof that the buyer believes in. These could be:
    • Testimonials from influential people in the same industry
    • Trade published articles
    • Reports from independent companies or
    • Your own R&D trial reports, customer list, reference,

When to Handle Objections?

  1. Pre-empt before the issue comes up: (This builds credibility and trust) State: ‘You may have a question in your mind: whether…..” Go on to state your solution
  2. As soon as the issue comes up: (This conveys empathy & respect for his concerns) Customers don’t like to be ignored, so the safest bet is to answer questions when asked.

3.  Postpone it to the end: Particularly useful if the customer is jumping the gun on a point that you plan to cover later in your presentation. Price discussion, for example should be at the end after agreeing on the needs and agreeing on the solution. Note it down and handle it in the end, positively

The 4-Step Plan to Handle Objections

(1) Listen carefully. Don’t interrupt! Listening is half the objection solved!

(2) Check your understanding: Paraphrase to convey & check your understanding. Seek clarification thro simple, open-ended questions

(3) Address the issue: Speak clearly and to the point, don’t beat around the bush. Sometimes prospects cannot see their own business dilemmas. It is your job to clarify issues and help them overcome their fear of investing money or making decisions

(4) Confirm agreement: Always ask the prospect if he is completely satisfied with your answer

Techniques to ‘Address the Issue’

  • ‘Feel, Felt, Found’ technique: Say: “I understand how you feel about… I have had other customers who have felt the same way until they found out that…..”
  • ‘Feel’ conveys understanding
  • ‘Felt’ assures him he is not alone – others like him have been in the same boat before!
  • ‘Found’ reassures him that this common misgiving becomes unimportant when additional information is considered
  • ‘Compare Apples with Apples’ technique: Use this technique when the customer compares your product/services with another which does not meet his stated criteria; or, he suddenly emphasizes a new element in the criteria
  • Boomerang Technique’: This technique requires very good rapport with the customer. Here, you return their excuse for not requiring your services as the exact reason why they should go for it! ‘Insure nahi karoge toh mehanga padegaa!’

To make your argument completely sound, back it up with hard evidence. Use charts, graphs, statistics, case studies, and testimonials to show how much time or money will be saved or earned by your proposal.


Closing is the stage when you call for an answer from the customer and seek an agreement from him on your proposal. A professional close is a natural and logical extension of involving and getting agreement of the customer at every step of the selling process. When done this way closing is a matter of when, not if! In a way it is similar to asking someone to marry you if you were worried about the answer, you wouldn’t ask. The question will be premature

How will you know the right time to close? From Signals!

Verbal signals: If the customer

  • Uses phrases like “That sounds good” or “That makes sense to me”
  • Asks a lot of detailed questions on how and by when
  • Calls his trusted advisor for a second opinion
  • Repeats the key words you have used to explain the value of the solution

Non-Verbal signal: If the customer makes a change in posture which reflects interest such as:

  • From sitting back to leaning forward
  • Starts nodding his head when you make a key point
  • Widens his eyes

How could you close?

  • The Assumptive Close- Where you are fairly confident the buyer has taken a decision but you avoid asking a direct question (as it is painful to the buyer). Speak as if a decision is taken g. ‘When do you wish to kick start the project?”
  • ‘I Recommend’ Close- Where the buyer requires a little gentle nudge to close: Start with ‘I Recommend that the right thing for you is …..’ If the customer feels that you have really understood his needs, then he will follow your recommended course of action
  • The Alternative Close- Offer two options in such a way that the buyer chooses between two positive alternatives
  • Recurrent Yes Close- Here, you ask a series of questions that the buyer says yes to. You are getting the momentum going and having the customer say ‘yes’ to a number of questions, and you can use this to lead him to a close

If the customer is closing, don’t interrupt. Let him close the deal for you! Talk Less, Listen more, Close more!

Act! Have a Bias for Action!

Some things you have read here you may already know. You may have been doing a few of these already. My question to you is: How many of these are you doing, not just once in a way, but Always! i.e. How many of these are now your habit? If you have not made these your habits, your knowing is of no help!

Let’s see an example Do you remember the warning on cigarette packs, cigarette hoardings? What does it say? I am sure everybody remembers it: ‘CIGARETTE SMOKING IS INJURIOUS TO HEALTH’. Billions still smoke, after reading this slogan, knowing it is injurious. So, knowing is not enough. If you do not act on the Knowledge, it’s a waste. Why this Knowing-Doing gap? Because they have not decided to take action. No intention- so no decision- so no action!Ask people who have given up smoking how they did it: You will invariably find that one fine day- they took a decision- to stop

When is your one fine day? I am not now talking about smoking. When are you going to decide to become a Powerful Persuader? Some other day? Today? How about today? Start, now! I promise you dramatic success- if you have decided. If you have not, you are wasting your potential! Indecision is also a decision-to not use your potential! Winners have a Bias for Action. Losers are ‘trying’ to take action– they try to meet targets- they try to convince customers about a price increase, they try to read this book. When you say ‘I will try to do…’ you are giving yourself a backdoor to escape.

If you have a backdoor, you will use it – Old Alchemists Saying!

If you have decided to become a wonderful persuader, you have made a decision to:

  • Make your customers trust you and live up to it through right actions. You have committed yourself to A-RAGA! , the Trust-Building- Cycle
  • Work towards a Partnership of Equals! With the Empowering belief: The customer needs us as much as we need the customer! Because, nothing from what you have read so far will help you if you lack  conviction about your products, company & yourself!

Everything you have read here will work for you if you believe it will work and act on it: you will create enduring relationships- you will become a Powerful Persuader. Best of luck

This is concludes our 4-Part Series on Powerfully Persuading Customers. The other parts are 1-Persuasion, 2-Building Rapport, and 3-Effective Questioning

CategoriesSales Consulting

A Real Skill: Effective Questioning!

Listening becomes extremely powerful when combined with the skill to ask the right questions.

By Effective Questioning, you can get the customer:

  1. Reveal his Real Needs
  2. Realize Ramifications of not solving the problem
  3. Realize the Value he will gain by solving the problem
  4. Feel a sense of urgency to solve the problem/opportunity

Questioning has a Sequence!

Questioning is effective in doing all these, if it’s in the right sequence. At a broad level, it’s useful to think of the questioning sequence as a funnel: Open Questions to start with >> Narrowing down with Probing Questions >>Narrow using Closed Questions

The sequence can be seen as B-S-C-R-V: Background -> Symptom -> Cause -> Ramification -> Value

The BSCRV Technique of asking questions is a more structured representation of the Funnel Technique in which you start with open questions and then get more and more specific. Towards the end, you ask questions which create a sense of urgency to go for a change

B-S-C-R-V Sequence

Background questions are to get the customer to open up. They lead to long, descriptive answers. Start with Open Questions: They build rapport! You will come across areas of concerns, dissatisfaction, new priorities, aspirations of management, etc.

Symptom questions are Closed Questions(generally Yes/No questions) that help pinpoint the real issue to be addressed:

  • For the customer: They help him recognize the problem he  faces
  • For you: They ensure you address problems of high importance for the

When you ask a Symptom Question, it provides the customer the opportunity to agree, disagree or change whatever he considers as the problem. This ensures a better understanding of the issue and prevents potential waste of time.

Cause Questions are open questions that help find out the customer’s opinions/ info from the customer on what could be causing the symptom. The customer has an in-depth understanding of his own business and can hence shed light on the possible causes. In addition, Cause Questions help us know what all steps he has already taken to resolve the issue and their success

Ramification Questions are Open Questions that reveal the possible impact or implication of not solving  the problem. They thus help your customer recognize that the problem is more serious than is apparent, thus creating a sense of urgency in the customer to address the problem, intensifying their desire to buy a solution

Value questions help the customer see the value they gain by addressing the problem faced. When your prospects tell you the desired results, they are, in effect, telling you what capabilities the solution must have. This is their ‘vision of value’. Value Questions help you create the right comparison of price and value later on. Open- ended value questions are more effective.

Using this Questioning Methodology: Using this methodology is a learning process. In order to learn, you must ask questions and listen. By focusing on what you want to learn, the questions will come naturally. The goal isn’t to ask the perfect question, it’s to learn about your prospects’ problems and how those problems affect their companies’ bottom line.

Selling or Persuading is an urgency-creating process. The more momentum you generate early in the buy-sell process, the greater the probability that a sale will be made. The questions you ask in your role as a sales professional will increase your prospects’ perception of the value of what you have to offer and, therefore, will reduce the number of objections you hear. This is objection prevention rather than objection handling. An increased perception of value, combined with fewer objections, spells sales success!

Present your Win – Win Solution, Persuasively!

There are at least 2 ways to present a solution/ your proposal:

  1. Writing
  2. Presentation

You probably use option 1 most often. But in the light of the learnings regarding the Preferred Thinking Modes – VAK- Visual / Auditory / Kinesthetic do you still think written proposal fulfills its objective? A Presentation is the way to go.

When you do a presentation of your proposal:

  • You can use all 3 modes– Visual (Slides), Auditory (Your speech) & Kinesthetic (The way you shake hands; you can hand-over the proposal docket, show samples, etc, etc)
  • You can get all people involved in the decision together
  • You get the opportunity to handle objections/ fears/ misinterpretations in person

Presenting a Proposal is easily the right thing to do. Many people dread Presentations. First, let me give you the good news. You have already learnt many things that are necessary to do a good presentation! How? Because, a Presentation is also a Conversation!

 The 4-step formula to ace any presentation:

Step 1: Tell them what you are going to tell them!

Step 2: Tell them!

Step 3: Tell them what you have told them!

Step 4: Ask for Action!

Structure of Breakthrough Presentations = Structure of Breakthrough Conversations! (Refer this post in case you haven’t already)

A. Before: 1. Prepare like a Professional
B. During
Beginning 2. Achieve Rapport with an Energizing Starting Statement (ESS)
3. Summarize Status
4. State the Presentation Objective (Tell them what you are going to tell them!)
Middle: 5.  Achieve Common Objective! (Tell them!)a.  Identify the Customer’s Needs through Questioning! b. Present a Win + Win Solution that meets the Customer’s needs c. Handle Customer Doubts/fears/objections d.Close with an Agreement
End: 6.  Summarize Agreements (Tell them what you have told them!)
7. An Energizing Ending Statement (EES) (Ask for Action!)
C. After: 8. Meet Commitments! Like a Professional!

You must structure the main body in a way that:

  • Make it easy for the audience to understand and
  • Logically directs the audience to your desired close

What should the body of your presentation include?

  • Summary:  The current situation: Where are we now?
  • Agenda: What do we want to achieve by this project?
  • Ramification of not resolving this issue
  • Offer: What our company can do for you?
  • Value: The likely outcomes and benefits of this project/proposal/solution
  • Action: How we plan to go about this project/proposal/solution?

Some Tips:

Tip 1: Meet as many members of the audience before the formal presentation starts and build rapport with them

Tip 2: Use all 3 Preferred Thinking Modes Each member of the audience should think: “This presentation has been created for me”

Tip 3: Keep it Short and Simple (KISS)

  • One major idea/message per slide
  • Avoid jargon the audience is unlikely to know; use jargon that they will know

Tip 4: Keep your slides readable & visually appealing

  • Use a simple slide layout; don’t be garish- Keep background non-distracting
  • Use maximum of 2 to 3 colors
  • Only bullets- not full sentences
  • Contrast the fonts with the background for readability
  • Use 24 size font for title and 20 for the text below (Slide should be readable from 15 feet)
  • Use Animation, Graphics, Clip Art for enhancement. Don’t overdo them to distraction!
  • When dealing with numbers, try to use graphs or other visual forms of showing data

Tip 5:  Add Spice!

People have high attention and interest level at the opening and at the close of the presentation. Attention level drops during the main body of the presentation. To sustain and keep alive the customer’s attention level, use appropriate humour, add spice to the presentation. Every few slides connect the sub story to the main story.

This is concludes Part-3 of our 4-Part Series on Powerfully Persuading Customers. The other parts are  1-Persuasion, 2-Building Rapport, and 4-Handle objections and Close

CategoriesSales Consulting

Build Rapport through Mirroring & Matching

Rapport is the ability to create and hold the other’s positive attention and create a sense of trust

Rapport makes the other person feel comfortable with you. It gets the person thinking & feeling: This guy is like me. He understands me. I can trust him to do what is right for me’. If you are in rapport with your customer, he is comfortable enough to open up and share with you, his deeper concerns, needs and expectations. Without rapport, you are just communicating information. You might as well be a brochure!

When 2 persons are in rapport their body language automatically matches, they adopt the same posture, move in similar ways and use the same style and pace in their speech. Without their knowledge, they ‘mirror’ or ‘match’ each other! Why does this happen? This happens because; the mind & body are part of the same system. If 2 persons are thinking the same way, they will feel the same way and their body language also ends up being similar. Now let me tell you something which is very interesting. Researchers have found that the reverse also is true! i.e. When you match your verbal and non-verbal language, you will start feeling similar emotions as the other: you will achieve rapport! This is a dramatic new insight, very valuable to you: By mirroring or Matching the other, you can achieve rapport!

How can you use this insight: That by Mirroring or Matching, you can Achieve Rapport? By Mirroring or Matching 3 things:

  1. Customer’s Body Language
  2. Customer’s Key Words
  3. Customer’s ‘Preferred Thinking Mode’

A.    Mirroring or Matching Customer’s Body Language

Body language is not just your posture-how you stand/use hands. It is any of the following:

Posture – Position of the body:  Legs & feet / Arms, hands & fingers / Weight distribution
– How the shoulders are held: Up? Drooping?
– Inclination of the head: Straight? Tilted?
Expression – Direction of the look / Movement of the gaze
Breathing – Rate of breathing: Fast? Slow?
– Position of the breathing: Shallow- from the chest? Deep- from the stomach?
Movement – Pace: fast? Steady? Slow? Still?
Voice – Pace: Fast? Slow? Measured?
– Pitch: High? Low?

B.     Mirroring or Matching Customer’s Key Words

The next time you are with a customer, note some words/phrases the customer repeatedly uses. Customers attach special meaning to these key words/phrases. When you reply to them, use the same words/phrases they used. (Don’t try to change her word/ phrase. Use it exactly the same!) You will make them feel you deeply understand them! You will cut through resistance!

C.     Mirroring or Matching Customer’s ‘Preferred Thinking Mode’

Richard Bandler & John Grinder, two remarkable people, have done some path-breaking work by observing people. One of their key findings is of great relevance to persuaders is this: Most individuals have one preferred mode—Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic (Touch/Feel) in which one prefers to think and communicate. This preferred mode/style is what one finds easier to understand and to respond in. So, to achieve rapport, you should communicate with one in one’s own style. Sell to customers the way they want to buy, not how you want to sell to them!

  • A Visual makes pictures in his mind. Represents ideas, & imagination as mental images
  • An Auditory thinks in sounds, voices. One’s voice, pitch, pace & modulation matter to them
  • A Kinesthetic gets information from touch, taste or smell; represents thoughts as feelings

So, the question arises: How do you find a person’s Preferred Thinking Mode and to strike rapport?

(1)    Visuals:

Words they use often Other clues To Persuade them
Speaking Speed: Fast Use Visual words/ phrases to paint a picture. For example:
The future is looking brighter; I am looking forward to see you
Telephone  conversations: Short
Remembering names: Poor Describe processes using flow diagrams, charts, presentations
Remembering faces: Very good Show brochures; pictures (of your products, plant, machinery, etc)
Spellings: Very good Show samples of your products
Like to: Keep their workspace clean & organized Explain by writing on paper; painting pictures in the air
Send proposals in writing, Present in slides
E-mail regularly

(2)    Auditory:

Words they use often Other clues To Persuade them
Speaking Speed: Rhythmic & deliberate Use Auditory words/ phrases while explaining. For example:
How does this sound? We are in tune with each other; Does this ring a bell?
Telephone conversations: Love!
Remembering names: Poor Explain product brochure,  proposal, aloud
Remembering faces: Not good Discuss things with them in a detailed manner.  If required, help them think through
Like to: Think as they speak, Hear self! & others talk & Listen to music
Get confirmations on phone

 (3)    Kinesthetic

Words they use often Other clues To Persuade them
Speaking Speed: Slow, frequent pauses. You wonder if he’s disconnected the line! Use Kinesthetic words/ phrases while explaining. For example:
The sweet smell of success; Get in touch with reality; I’ve got a grasp of what you mean
Remembering names: Poor
Like to: Touch people & things (e.g. pens, clips etc. on desk, brochures, reports, samples etc) Give sample/ product in his hand so that he can feel it
Give Brochures/catalogs in his hand so that he can feel it
Describe the experience of using the product
Get them to do something: e.g. to write on the handout you gave
Take them to the place where the action is e.g. visit a customer where you’ve succeeded

 To Mirror / Match, we need to be Observant. We must talk less, get the Customer to talk and listen. Listening sounds simple, is simple, but many of us don’t! It is time we learnt to Listen Actively

Active Listening: The Key to Persuasion

For a moment, think of the human being called Customer. His (or her) spouse doesn’t listen to him. His children don’t listen any more. The last thing he is looking forward to is his Service Provider not listening to him!

Listening achieves two things first, People feel good when they are truly heard, it Builds Rapport, Second, It helps to truly understand customer needs

If it is so important, why is Listening in short supply? Because of 2 reasons:

  1. Many have a mistaken impression that Listening means Agreeing to what is being said. Whereas, when you listen, you are just considering what the other person is saying.
  2. We think 10-12 times faster than we talk. When you are expected to listen, your mind is on overdrive: making assumptions, reaching conclusions, carrying impressions, making judgements: all in preparation for what to say next! Listening is not waiting for your turn to speak; or, nodding while processing your own thoughts!

So, what is Listening? Listening is Active Listening:

  • Being mentally, physically & emotionally ‘present’ to the speaker
  • Understanding the contents without judgment, and
  • Understanding the emotions expressed by the speaker

Listening is a choice, an action, a gift to the other. It shows your customer: I care for you!

How to Listen Actively

  • Don’t judge the speaker
  • Talk to make the other feel understood, encouraging her to speak more openly
  • Paraphrase, Paraphrase, Paraphrase

Tips to what you will say so others feel understood!

  1. Paraphrase – a short summary of the essence of what the customer has just said
  2. Use Customer’s Key Words/ Key phrases
  3. Use Customer’s ‘Marked out’ words – most people slow down the pace of their speech when they use words which are special to them. They often pause right before and after the word: these are ‘Marked Out’ words

This is concludes Part-2 of our 4-Part Series on Powerfully Persuading Customers. The other parts are  1-Persuasion3-Effective Questioning  and 4-Handle objections and Close

CategoriesSales Consulting

Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

Robert Cialdini,  Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, has identified 6 Principles of Influence—what makes people agree to do or buy something (based on 35 years of evidence based research)

  1. Reciprocation: ‘People repay kindness’
  • Social obligations: Humans inherently dislike being indebted to someone. We feel obliged to give back to others (a behaviour, gift, or service) that we receive first. E.g.: A friend invites you to his/her party, there’s an obligation for you to invite him/her to a future party (whether you like him/her or not!) A supermarket sold £1000 of cheese in a few hours by inviting customers to slice their own free samples. Hare Krishna society in the USA solicited donations successfully by offering a gift first (a rose, a book), people accepted (whether they wanted it or not) and they gave donations (whether they wanted it or not!)

The key is to be the first to give; make it personalised and unexpected. Amount of favour generally doesn’t matter much. (An actress helped her friend in a big way. Because when she wanted to move her house a few years ago, she had asked help to 20 friends, and only that friend had turned up)

Caution: Don’t mix repaying personal favours with business favours. (A boss can’t give a higher raise to his Reportee because he gives lift to the boss)

Tip: When you do a favour, don’t say, “Naah, don’t worry it’s no big deal” (losing the chance to influence the other person) or “Now, you owe me one” (forcing a commitment on the other person), but say “You would have done the same for me” (Conditioning the other person to think returning the favour as his own action)

  • Reject & Retreat: This technique consists of first making a higher demand, then waiting for it to be rejected, only to follow this demand up with a smaller one, (that you really wanted all along. It makes your demand feel like a concession). ‘If you want a kitten, first ask for a pony’. E.g. When a group of people asked to volunteer to manage a school-trip every Saturday for 2 years, they denied. Then, they were asked to do it only for one Saturday, they accepted!

Caution: Don’t make your first demand so high that the other person find you un-reasonable

  1. Commitment and Consistency: ‘People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done

Good personal consistency is highly valued in human culture. Inconsistency is commonly thought to be an undesirable personality trait. The person whose beliefs, words, and deeds don’t match may be seen as indecisive, confused, two-faced, or even mentally ill. On the other side, a high degree of consistency is normally associated with personal and intellectual strength. It is at the heart of logic, rationality, stability, and honesty.

Consistency is activated by looking for, and asking for, small initial commitments that can be made. Get people to do voluntary, active, and public commitments, and ideally gets those commitments in writing. (That’s why it is recommended to write down/verbally state our goals, as we then stand a much greater chance of sticking to them!)

E.g.: Households were called and asked to predict what they would do if they were asked to volunteer for three hours to collect for charity. Three days later, they were re-called and asked to collect for charity. This led to an increase in the numbers of volunteers by 700%. A woman who wanted to quit smoking, wrote it on a few business cards and gave it to the people she loved. The thought of not failing them made her comply—she quit smoking in 3 weeks!

Living up to our identity – “We are what we repeatedly do”- Aristotle. We will act in ways that are consistent with our identity, beliefs and values. American Prisoners of War (POWs) in Korea started co-operating, when they were labelled and classed themselves as a collaborator.

  1. Social Proof: ‘People follow the lead of similar others’

People are more willing to take a recommended action, if they see evidence that many others, especially similar others, are taking it (i.e. Social Validation. E.g. In a new city, which restaurant would you go to, the one with full parking lot or the one with empty one?) When people are uncertain, they look at the actions and behaviours of others to determine their own. (Mind doesn’t want to work, if others, similar to me, are doing it, they must have thought about it)

E.g.: In places of worship, bars etc. some money is already kept in the collection jar. It’s to stimulate other to give. Long ques outside (even if it’s an arranged one) make a bar, restaurant popular

  1. Authority: ‘People follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts’

People are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a person who they think has the relevant authority or expertise. Greater the perceived authority of a person, the more likely people are to comply

E.g.: One study showed that 3 times as many pedestrians were willing to follow a man into traffic against the red light when he was merely dressed as an authority in a business suit and tie. Hospitals have a 12% daily error rate, because, nurses and junior doctors will very rarely challenge the decision made by a doctor. In an experiment, Airplane crew did not challenge the Pilot when he did a catastrophic mistake (purposefully) that would have led to a plane-crash

We often perceive and interact with people with authority differently. It’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt. (E.g. Physiotherapists are able to persuade more of their patients to comply with recommended exercise programs if they display their medical diplomas on the walls of their consulting rooms.). Arrange someone to introduce your expertise to your prospects (“Speak to Peter, our head of sales. He has over 20 years’ experience selling properties. I’ll put you through now.”) Spend some time in the first meeting presenting your experience & expertise

  1. Liking: ‘People like those who like them’

As a rule, we prefer to say yes to the request of those we like over those we don’t. E.g.: Joe Girard won for twelve years straight the title of ‘Number one salesman’, selling on average five cars or trucks a day. One of his key tactics however was to employ the use of compliments. Every month he sent every one of his 13,000 former customers a holiday greeting card containing a personal message—‘I like you’. In Tupperware Home Demonstration parties, guests are 3 times more likely to purchase products because they like the party’s hostess than they like the products. When a salesman approaches the person recommended, saying “your friend recommended this for you” it increases the chance they will make a purchase. Turning the salesman away is difficult as it’s like rejecting one’s friend

We like people who are similar to us (same views, interests, beliefs and values), we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals. We, therefore, need to find areas of shared interest to increase rapport and connection.

E.g.  In a study on series of negotiations, when the discussion started like

How the discussion started % reached agreeable outcomes
“Time is money. Get straight down to business.” 55%
Before negotiating began, exchanged some personal information with each other & identified similarities both parties share 90%

(Tip: Studies found, people automatically attribute traits such as talent, kindness, honesty and intelligence to attractive/good-looking/well-dressed people)

  1. Scarcity: ‘People want more of what they can have less of’

People find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability. We are more motivated to act if we think we are going to lose something, than if we are to gain something. E.g. ‘Save £50 a month on…’ would not be as effective as ‘You are losing £50 a month on…’.

An item that is scarce is more desirable than one that is freely available. E.g. When British Airways announced in 2003 that they would no longer operate the London—New York Concorde flight because it had become uneconomical to run, sales the very next day took off.

Even information that is scarce is more effective. A beef importer in the US informed his customers (honestly) that, because of weather conditions in Australia, there was likely to be a shortage of Australian beef. His orders more than doubled. However, when he added (also honestly) that this information came from his company’s exclusive contacts in the Australian National Weather Service, orders increased by 600%!

So, it’s not enough simply to tell people about the benefits they’ll gain if they choose your products and services. You’ll also need to point out what is unique about your proposition and what they stand to lose if they fail to consider your proposal.

  • Don’t be a Bungler or a Smuggler of influence, but be a Sleuth!


  1. Bunglers: Simply miss chances and cues that legitimately they should take to influence people. E.g. if they’ve done a favour to a customer, they would say “Don’t worry, it’s no big deal”. They don’t use the power of scarcity to further their sales cause; fail to produce proofs that their product works when they have adequate proofs that it does.
  2. Smugglers: They are too sneaky for their own good. They may use legitimate techniques of influence, but at the wrong time and out of context. “They get what they want, but Customers get what they don’t want!”
  3. Sleuths: They use all of the acceptable techniques of influence – at the right time and in the right context. This is the detective of sales, the professional who helps a customer discover ways to solve problems.


  • Other key points:
    • 7th principle of Influence: Reason Why
      Attaching a reason to a request increases the success rate:  “I have 5 pages, can I use the Xerox machine before you because I’m in a rush” had a success rate of 94% 60% success rate when no ‘reason why’ was given. [Stupid version of like ‘I have 5 pages, can I use the Xerox machine before you because I’ve to make copies’ also worked!]
    • Showing potential customers the most expensive item first then working downwards in price leads to an increase in the amount spent (as the next products seem cheaper in comparison).
CategoriesSales Consulting

Getting Things Done by David Allen

GTD—or “Getting things done”—is a framework for organizing and tracking your tasks and projects. Its aim is a bit higher than just “getting things done”, though. (It should have been called “Getting things done in a much better way than just letting things happen, which often turns out not to be very cool at all”.) Its aim is to make you have 100% trust in a system for collecting tasks, ideas, and projects—both vague things like “invent greatest thing ever” and concrete things like “call Ada 25 August to discuss cheesecake recipe”. Everything!

Sound like all other run-of-the-mill to-do list systems, you say? Well in many ways it is, but there is more to it, and it’s really simple. Promise! So please read on.

One of the basic assumptions of GTD is that you are dumb—or, rather, that your sub consciousness is quite dumb when it comes to thinking about things you should have done. For example knowing you need to fix your bike before next week, but instead of reminding you when you actually drive by the bicycle shop, it implants an incessant feeling of “I need to remember… something” in your brain.


The heartbeat of GTD is five steps that apply order to chaos and provide you the space and structure to be more creative, strategic, and focused. These five steps can be shown visually


One | Collecting Your Work

Collecting your work together and getting everything out of your head is the first stage of mastering your workflow.


The in-basket represents a place where you can collect all of your work and open loops. For example, this could be your email inbox, a physical inbox or apps like Evernote and to-do lists. When collecting your work, it’s important to get everything out of your head and into one of these baskets, even if this means jotting down a note on a piece of paper and physically putting it somewhere.

Two | Processing Your Work

Processing your work is all about taking everything in your in-baskets and working out what needs to be done with those items

What is It? This is a simple, yet important step. Answer the question, “what is the thing you’re dealing with?” Perhaps it’s an email from HR but what is it actually about? Is it an unimportant update about employee contracts, or is it some boring reminder about health and safety? Identifying the stuff in your in-basket allows you to effectively answer the next question.

Is it Actionable? Yes – If an item is actionable, you must first identify the “project” it’s part of (see “Projects“) and the “next action” required to move that item towards completion (See “Next Action”).

No – Often, the stuff in your in-basket requires no further action required. In which case, you can do one of the following three things (see “Trash”, “Someday/Maybe” and “Reference”).

What’s the Next Action?  The “next action” is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the next thing you need to do to take that item towards completion. Once you’ve identified the next action, you can answer the following question to work out your next move; “will it take less than 2 minutes?”

Do It: If the answer to this question is “yes”, just do it then and there. Easy.

Delegate It:  If the answer is “no”, you can ask yourself, “am I the right person to do this?” or “can someone else do this?” Depending on these answers, you can delegate the task.

Defer It: Finally, if you do need to do the work and it’s going to take longer than 2 minutes, you can defer it to later.

Three | Organising Your Work

Once you’ve processed your work using the above system, all of the non-actionable stuff can be organised into:

Someday/Maybe: These are the things you might want to come back to one date and that aren’t attached to any particular time frame.

Reference: These are the useful things that don’t require any action, but might come in handy later. It could be a supporting document for some piece of work, a spreadsheet of information or checklist.

Trash: Finally, if there is no point in keeping an item for reference and you don’t want to come back

Projects & Project Plans: A project is literally anything with more than two action steps that need to be completed e.g. planning a trip, buying a new TV or running a marketing meeting.

Waiting:  Keep a track of things you’re waiting for by creating a “Waiting” list.

Calendar: Deferred work that is time sensitive goes on your calendar to be completed at a specific time. GTD stresses that your calendar is only used for these time sensitive items and nothing else.

Next Actions:  Any deferred work that isn’t time sensitive goes onto your “next actions” list.

Four | Reviewing Your Work

Once you’ve organised everything so it’s in the right place, it’s important that you review your “next actions”, “calendar” and “waiting” lists on a regular basis. The order of review can be “calendar”, “next actions”, “waiting”, “projects” and “someday”.

Five | Doing Your Work

At last! Based on your review you will be able to decide what to do. When deciding what on this list to tackle first, you can consider the amount of time/energy you have, the context you’re in and it’s priority. For example, if you have only 10 minutes before you’re next meeting, you can make a phone call on your “next actions” (time).

A few key quotes:

-At any point in time, knowing what has to get done, and when, creates a terrain for manoeuvring.

– Suffice it to say that something automatic and extraordinary happens in your mind when you create and focus on a clear picture of what you want.

– Things rarely get stuck because of lack of time. They get stuck because the doing of them has not been defined.

CategoriesSales Consulting

The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie

So, how to improve at the art of public speaking? Lets take the example of grazing horses.

Did you ever notice in looking from a train window that some horses feed near the track and never even pause to look up at the thundering cars, while at the next crossing a farmer is trying to quiet his scared horse as the train goes by?

How would you cure a horse that is afraid of cars—graze him in a back-woods lot where he would never see steam-engines or automobiles, or drive or pasture him where he would frequently see the machines?

Apply the same horse-sense to ridding yourself of self-consciousness and fear: face an audience as frequently as you can, and you will soon stop shying. You can never attain freedom from stage-fright by reading a treatise.

By following these 10 tips, you’ll be able to eliminate that feeling and make your presentation a good experience for both you and your audience.

  1. Acquiring Confidence in Front of an Audience

Speaking in front of people can be terrifying. Some might argue that it is even more intimidating to speak in front of a smaller audience. To overcome this fear, Carnegie says to:

  • Practice multiple times
  • Be absorbed in your subject
  • Have something to say
  • Expect success
  • Assume control over your audience
  1. Subject and Preparation

Know what you’re talking about and keep your knowledge organized. Do research and have facts to supplement your speech. Create an outline, and once you’ve prepared your presentation, don’t be afraid to revise.

  1. Efficiency through Change of Pitch

Carnegie advises that for every change in thought, your voice should change in pitch. Work on noticing what your voice does when you speak, remember that having more inflections in your voice will sound more pleasant to your audience.

  1. Pause and Power

Knowing how to utilize pauses can greatly help your public speaking skills. They can be used for a variety of reasons like letting your audience mentally prepare for your next thought, creating suspense, or letting your message sink in with your audience.

  1. Feeling and Enthusiasm

Put feeling into your speech, and express that. Don’t be afraid to let go, even if it feels overdone at first. Be enthusiastic about your topic, it will help get your audience excited about it too. The more excited about and connected to your presentation your audience is, the more likely your message will resonate with them.

  1. The Voice

A speaking voice is essential for public speaking, but how do you train yourself to have one? To begin with, you have to relax. Don’t allow yourself to be nervous because there is nothing to be nervous about. Watch your breath and try reciting vowel sounds to relax and prepare for your speech.

  1. The Truth about Gestures

Gestures should be a reflection of what you’re feeling, helping convey that to your audience. They should come naturally, and should be one of the only unplanned parts of your speech. Make sure your movements are fluid and go along with what you are saying at that exact moment.

  1. Influencing the Crowd

Every crowd needs a leader. Be that leader for your audience! Guide your audience through your thoughts and keep them engaged. Establishing yourself as a leader will gain respect from your audience and help you get them to take the action you want them to.

  1. Growing a Vocabulary

Having a word in your vocabulary means three things: you know its meanings, you know how it works with other words, and you know how to use it correctly. When you hear a new word, make it a point to learn these three things about it. Hearing a word you already know, used in a different way, is a great way to increase your vocabulary as well. If you’re unfamiliar with that usage, look it up and learn it.

  1. Memory Training

You probably don’t want to or can’t memorize your entire speech word for word, so associating ideas will be essential to having your presentation go smoothly. It’s as simple as memorizing your outline. Memorize your key speaking points and some words associated with them, and work from there.

Audience expect big things from a speaker asking for attention: he must have either truth or entertainment for them. Get out there and own the stage!!!

CategoriesSales Consulting

Customers for Life by Carl Sewell and Paul Brown

Carl Sewell shares the lessons learnt from transforming his Cadillac dealership, revealing the secret to getting customers to return again and again. What follows might seem a little idealistic but do it right and it can work wonders.

Ask your customers what they want and give it to them. Do not make assumptions, ask them and they will tell you exactly what they want. Get them to spend an extra 10 mins explaining what they really want. Use this information to serve them better. Underpromise and Overdeliver. Build buffers to make sure you always overdeliver.  If the customer asks for anything the answer is “Yes”. You can charge them or not but you always say yes. Be available all the time.

Build systems. Anything you do needs to be measured, compared and attributed. Make sure the person doing the work checks it and is responsible for a free rework if necessary. Builds ownership. Fire the inspectors and the Consumer relations department. Get the person delivering the service to be directly responsible for the relationship. Get it right the first time, if you falter apologise and fix it for free. Always overdeliver.

Selling is theatre and everything you do is judged. Care for the customers and the employees equally. Both are equally important. Keep everything clean. Obsess over every single detail from the lawns to the bathrooms. Everything adds to the impression being formed about you. Have clear signboards wherever necessary. If they don’t Name, Describe or Direct remove them.

The customer is almost always right. But sometimes you need to show them the door. Segment-Segment-Segment. You cannot serve every kind of customer profitably. Select the ones who’ll value your service and WOW them at every opportunity.

Build easy ways for customers to give feedback. This is the best source of information to fix the faults in your systems. Ask for feedback at every opportunity and thank them for it.

Hire Superstars. Save more by paying them more through partnership pay. The increase in efficiency definitely covers the increase in direct cost and the indirect costs saving are just the Icing on the cake.

Borrow from everywhere. Go looking for things to copy. There is no pride in reinventing the wheel. But you can definitely improve upon it. But, always pilot test them before mass rollout.

Leadership is performance. You cannot fake it. You have to actually genuinely care about the business, employees and the customers. If you don’t others can sense it. They’ll not be genuine after that. No amount of fliers or sessions can change the damage done by the wrong signals given out by the leader. If the boss is a crook you cannot expect the employees to be honest.

Four components that allow self-esteem to prosper. Sense of achievement, being cared about, power (autonomy) and ethics &Values.

Be nice. Build trust. Gain reputation and forge strong partnerships. Sometime you might have to trade with competition to get something the customer needs urgently. Do it in good faith and everyone wins.

Everything regardless of what you do has cycle time. Reduce it as much as possible. Look at the areas you are not adding value and start cutting from there. Any value of value add/cycle time >5% is great. Aim for that.

Recognize your Customer lifetime value and take decisions accordingly. You might lose a few bucks here and there but overall you’ll come out way ahead. Do All of this with the profit in mind or you aren’t going to be able to do it for long.

CategoriesSales Consulting

Simplify by Richard Koch

This book talks about great simplifiers in the business world. It says that there are only 2, almost opposite, ways of Simplifying: Price-simplifying & Proposition-simplifying. It also explains how to do both these simplifications!

Part 1: Great Simplifiers

  1. Henry Ford: Simplified the Ford Model T so that it was not only easy to build and maintain by also could be driven by anybody. By reducing the price the market size dramatically increased
  2. IKEA: They achieved price levels that blocked competitors with big stores outside town and direct delivery from the manufacturer to store.
  3. McDonalds: Simple menu with good food at a price half of what you would expect anywhere else. The menu is fixed in price and the choice has been decided by the restaurant. But in addition McDonalds makes a point of usability, e.g. no tipping.
  4. The Consultants: The BCG’s 4 box system, cash cows, question marks, dogs and stars. It was a simple package that enabled young rookies to “advise” companies what their strategy should be
  5. Uber: Used technology to link customers with providers and take a 20% cut of the fee! Welcome to the 21st century of a networked world. Uber scores well on ease of use and utilityand the ‘Art’ as the author calls it, he means the overall experience

There are two almost opposite ways to simplify:

  1. Price-simplifying – the route taken by Henry Ford, by McDonald’s, Southwest Airlines, IKEA, Charles Schwab, and Honda – This requires cutting the price of a product or service in half, or more – sometimes over a number of years the price can be cut to a tenth of its previous level. If the price of a product is halved, demand doesn’t double.  It soars.  And if the product or service is simple enough, it can be sold everywhere around the world – There is a common template adopted by all price-simplifiers
  2. Proposition-simplifying – involves making a product or service a Joy to use by making it simpler: more useful, easier to use, and more elegant. Companies who have done this brilliantly include Google, Uber, Apple, ARM, Tetra Pak, and The Boston Consulting Group

Whereas price-simplifying is all about making it simpler for the Producer, proposition-simplifying is all about making it simpler for the Customer

Part 2: How to Simplify

Proposition Simplify: This happens in 3 steps:

Step 1: Make the product/service easier to use

  • Eliminate features: Keep only what is absolutely required
  • Make your product intuitive and easier. Hide Complexity. Is it Joy to Use?
  • Make it Faster: Nespresso, faster coffee anyone?
  • Make it smaller/lighter/portable.The Sony Walkman
  • Finally, make the product/service easier to obtain. iTunes, Uber

Step 2: Make it more useful

  • Vary the performance (make it more or less powerful)
  • Improve quality
  • Add new features, but only if it does not undermine Step 1
  • Provide a wider range of services
  • Personalize it

Step 3: Make it more aesthetically appealing

Product design is a crucial aspect of any consumer product, web design etc. e.g. MySpace’s demise. It had a cluttered and messy interface when Facebook offered a nice clean one

How to Price Simplify

Radically reduce the costs not just within the product but also the company to allow a profitable price reduction. To be meaningful the price has to be reduced by 50% or more.

9 step method to achieving price simplification:

Step1: Subtract features: No food in planes

Step2: Reduce variety: Ford

Step3: Add cheap benefits: IKEA Children play areas

Step 4: Automate: be able to scale your product selling

Step 5 Orchestrate

Step 6: Co-opt customers: McDonalds

Step 7: Sell direct

Step 8: Use simpler technology

Step 9: Scale Up: Grow quickly. Make it difficult for anyone else to copy your business

CategoriesSales Consulting

Persuasion: The Real Business we all are in!

Let’s start with a question: What business are you in? Your Company might be in ‘Products’ or ‘Services’. But, my question is: What business are you in?

My answer is: the Business of Persuasion! Come to think of it, this is not just a work-skill: Persuasion is a Basic Life Skill. Without that, you wouldn’t be able to get yourself a spouse; your kid to listen to you; your Bank to give you a Housing Loan; the School Principal to give your child a seat in your preferred school! Not just you, not just me, everybody: We are all in one business: The Persuasion Business!

You and I have chosen Selling for our livelihood: We better be very good at Persuasion! Definitely much better at it than the Software Programmer or the Accountant or the Bank Teller; or your competitor’s Salesperson!

My work connects me with some of the best CEOs, Sales & Marketing Heads, Sales Managers, Sales Specialists. And we have read, some of the best writings on Persuasion. Our distilled wisdom is: The best persuaders have the wonderful ability to make their customers trust them

How will you build trust?

So, how do you make your customers trust you? Trust is something you create. And live up to, through your right actions. Now, let me reveal to you a 3-step Trust-Building- Cycle to make Customers trust you fully: It’s called A-RAGA!

  1. Achieve Rapport
  2. Agree Goals that are mutually satisfying
  3. Act: Do all that you need to, to meet these Agreed Goals!

By repeatedly & always following the ‘A-RAGA! Trust-Building-Cycle’, outstanding persuaders produce such positive feelings in the customer and themselves, that it becomes an Enduring Relationship: i.e. a relationship which lasts through good and bad times. Persuasion is easy and powerful when we have built such an enduring relationship

Relationship is a much-misused/misunderstood word. There are some customers we fear will stop buying from us, if we increase prices or change credit terms! Even that is a relationship. But that’s like a relationship between a master and his slave. Most often: You slave, He master! Sometimes, e.g. in a crisis or shortage situation, you Master. But, not for long! This is Wear & Tear Relationship: you wear each other till one day it tears! That’s what we get if we think of the Customer just as a means to achieve our own ’goal’- Sales Target! We reap what we sow!

  • If your actions are only to meet your Goals, it will deteriorate to a Wear & Tear Relationship
  • If you act to meet Mutually Satisfying Goals, it will grow to an Enduring Relationship!

So, how does one implement A-RAGA!? It’s simple. Notice that, in this 3-step A-RAGA! :

  • The first 2 steps (Achieve Rapport; Agree Goals) happen through interactive Conversations
  • The last step (Act) is about taking Actions

By bringing spirit & discipline to just 2 things: our Conversations and our Actions, we can implement A- RAGA! to build enduring relationships and persuade powerfully!

Conversations: The Real Way we all use to get things done!

Let me begin with a question for this section. What do you do in a typical day? Your answer may be one or more of these: I meet customers/ make reports-mails/ talk over phone with my customers-prospects /do meetings-telecons with my Distributor-Sales Reps-Boss/speak to Supply Chain etc

Take a hard look at the above list. What is the underlying thing that you are doing in all this? It is this—You are having convs, your conversation has to be Energizing: Energize the other into actions that lead to the desired result!

To fully appreciate these wonderful insights, do this Quick Mental Exercise (QMA):

  • QMA-1: Think about your most recent business lost where you were personally involved. Recreate mentally the full sequence of the last conversation between you and the customer when it became clear to you that the deal was as good as lost

Rate the Conversation: Energizing- Average- Poor?

  • QMA-2: Think about your most recent business breakthrough where you were personally involved. Recreate mentally the full sequence of the conversation between you and the customer that clinched the deal
    Rate the Conversation: Energizing- Average- Poor?

Isn’t it now obvious- that the quality of the results you get is fully dependent on the quality of the conversations you are having! So, Have Energizing Conversations!

The Structure of Breakthrough Conversations!

Breakthrough Conversations have a Simple Structure; Failed Conversations have poor structure! At a broad level, you will see that a Conversation is not just about what you do during the Conversation. What you do before often determines what we achieve during the Conversation. And, what you do after the Conversation could determine what you can achieve in the next conversation! So, broadly all Breakthrough Conversations have 3 important parts:

     A. Before the Conversation B. During the Conversation C. After the Conversation

A. What you do Before the Conversation: Prepare for the Conversation like a Professional!

  1. Have a Clear Objective—what is the outcome you want from this Conversation?
  2. Communicate Objective & agenda to the customer when fixing the meeting
  3. Develop a Clear Plan (Plan A) on how you intend to achieve the objective of the Conversation
  4. Develop a n Alternate Plan (Plan B) to achieve the objective, in case Plan A does not work
  5. Take Actions you promised in the Previous Conversation

B. What you do During the Conversation: A Conversation is like a One-day Cricket match! Begin with a bang, build in the middle, end with a bang!

  1. Begin with a bang: In the very beginning, you must build rapport. Your Starting Statement should be such that it energizes your Customer to talk freely and helps you engage with her/him—Energizing Starting Statement

What do you do next? You must first set the context for the conversation, so that there is focus, you both are ‘on the same page’. Just like TV Shows give a recap to ‘prime’ us before an episode. Let’s call this Summarize Status

Having summarized status, you should not leave the customer in suspense as to what this conversation is for. He/she should know the destination: Make the objective clear, i.e. State the Objective—the outcome that you want from the conversation

  1. Build in the middle: In this part of a conversation, you are to working towards Achieving the Common Objective. Imagine each of your customer conversations like a jugalbandi, between equals. The first musician sets the pace, as if he is asking a question: ‘Can you match me?’ The other musician comes with a glorious response. Musician 1 then goes to the next higher level to ask: ‘Now, can you match this?’ The second does it! Thus it goes on, till both reach a crescendo, a big bang end with both playing in unison!

This middle part, ‘Achieve Common Objective’ has some sub-steps:

  1. Identify Customer’s Needs
  2. Present a Win + Win Solution that meets the Customer’s needs
  3. Handle Customer doubts/fears/objections
  4. Close with an agreement
  5. End with a bang: While you end, it is best to Summarize Agreements reached in this Conversation. And, your Ending Statement should be such that it energizes the customer to act on the agreements—Energizing Ending Statement

C. What you do After the Conversation is: Meet Commitments made during the Conversation!

  1. Immediately confirm by mail/letter the agreed Next Steps
  2. Act to complete your agreed Next Steps on-time

So, here it is: the Structure of Breakthrough Conversations!

A. Before: 1. Prepare like a Professional
B. During
      Beginning: 2. Build Rapport with an Energizing Starting Statement (ESS)
3. Summarize Status
4. State the Objective
      Middle: 5. Achieve Common Objective
a. Identify Customer’s Needs through Questioning
b. Present a Win + Win Solution that meets the Customer’s needs
c.  Handle Customer Doubts/fears/objections
d. Close with an Agreement
      End: 6. Summarize Agreements
7. Energize with an Energizing Ending Statement (EES)
C. After: 8. Meet Commitments! Like a Professional!

You have learnt something powerful: The Structure of Breakthrough Conversations! In subsequent Sections, we will address the skills required to follow this Breakthrough Structure!

Skills to Through learning on
1. Build Rapport Mirroring & Matching
2. Identify Customer Needs Active Listening & Effective Questioning
3. Present a Win + Win Solution Persuasive Presentations
4. Handle Doubts/fears/objections Objection Handling.
5. Close Closing
6. Do everything to meet commitments Action Orientation

The Spirit: It’s a Partnership of Equals!

Before we arm ourselves with the all-powerful method, let’s get the Spirit right. Nothing of what you have learnt so far / will learn will work if the spirit isn’t right!

So, what’s the Right Spirit?

The Spirit is of a Partnership of Equals! By equality, we do not mean similarity in social or economic Status. We mean Mutual Respect for each other, for what both bring to the table. And, the belief that will empower you to deal with the other as an equal is:

The customer needs us as much as we need the customer! This belief will give you the confidence to aim for mutually satisfying goals that build an enduring relationship

If you hold a belief: ’We need the customer more than he needs us’, you have lost the battle through submissiveness, even before you start any conversation. If you hold the other extreme belief: ‘The customer needs us more than we need him’, the customer has lost the battle already through your arrogance; you lose the war later! Such Limiting Beliefs cause win-lose, wear & tear relationships

Simply put, you need to see yourself as an equal partner with your customer. You need to believe: The customer needs us as much as we need the customer!

This is concludes Part-1 of our 4-Part Series on Powerfully Persuading Customers. The other parts are 2-Building Rapport3-Effective Questioning and 4-Handle objections and Close

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