At Sandler sales training courses, we teach a tool called ‘reversing’, in this blog post I would like to look at how this sales technique can help you and your sales team with increasing the sales figures?
First of all, let’s imagine a situation where the prospect asks you, "How big is your company?". How can you give your prospect an answer, if you have not found out what your prospect really wants to know? Those who are Sandler trained would answer this question with something like, ‘’That’s an important question, what makes you ask?’’
By doing so, you have avoided the trap and arranged to get more information from your prospect. In other words, reversing is answering your prospects question with a question in a way that it allows them to uncover their PAIN, their priorities and their concerns in a natural conversational way. Reverse your prospect's questions and build rapport by focusing on what matters to them, not what matters to you.
Reversing is a highly effective tool, however, like any useful tools it can be overused. Here are some suggestions to keep your reversing in fine tune:
When we first learn the process we tend to treat it like a shiny new toy to be used all of the time. We may not realise that some questions are not a part of the sales process and should be answered directly. For example, if the prospect asks you if you are able to fix their broken boiler by Christmas as the whole family is coming over, do not ask them why is it important that they have a working boiler. Focus on reversing the right questions, if you reverse too often there is a risk of you sounding silly and prospect thinking that you are up to something.
Reverse with a goal
If you are working towards a destination, such as finding the causes of the prospect's real problem, the impact of it or their commitment to fixing it, then the reversing process has a direction and an end point. In the example from the first paragraph, the size of your company may be an indicator of the prospect's needs or preferences. The goal is to gather information to help you clearly understand the prospect's problems.
Stick with it
The "Rule of 3+" means that reversing again and again helps to clarify and get to the reasons behind the original questions. It helps us to get past the "pat" answers to get to some of the real problems because as we all know ‘’The problem your prospect brings you is not their real problem’’. Use the "Rule of 3+" to help the prospect get to the truth about his/her real pain or a problem. For example, if prospect tells you that their problem is ‘slow broadband’, dig deeper to understand what effect does that actually have on the business?
Don't forget the softening statement
Two elements comprise a reverse: the softening statement and the reversing question, and each is important to the process. If a prospect asks, "What have you got?" and you reply, "What do you need?" it creates a much different effect than, "That's an important question; what were you hoping I could show you?". The softening statement cushions the feeling of not answering the prospect's question. It is a good idea not to repeat the same softening statements during one conversation if possible. It is a natural conversation after all.
Lessons of the communication mix
When reversing, simply responding with a question is not enough. Rather, we must establish eye contact, mirror postures, modulate our voices and emphasize with proper tones and gestures. There is so much more to reversing than words. Use body language to communicate unspoken concerns and struggles to understand. Lower the volume of your voice and speak more slowly to communicate your special interest in the prospect and his/her problems.
A really great reverse is simple silence matched with the appropriate body language, e.g. puzzled or surprised look.
With reversing, as with any skill you want to own, you must practice. Why not role play with colleagues to tone this important skill? However, do not forget to make it your own and adapt it to your own style.