Sep 26, 2022 • Podcast

What is your best sales tip?

Paul shares his #1 sales tip that will help you be more successful T-O-D-A-Y.

Show Notes

SPOILER ALERT: Stretch the buyer’s time horizon into the future…and the past. Listen to learn why and how.

When you’re trying to improve in any way, focus on ONE thing to make a change.

Ask questions that help your customer focus on the outcomes.

When the customer shares their long-term goals, go back to them and present your long-term solution and the value it brings.

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What is your best sales tip?

(Transcribed from podcast)

So something happened over the weekend while playing golf. And you’re probably thinking at this point, “Geez, Reilly. All you do is play golf.” Well, until I can get my PGA or LIV tour card (I guess that’s what it’s called), I’m going to continue running the podcast and speaking to sales audiences. But here’s what happened over [at] the golf course this weekend. So me and a bunch of buddies were playing, and we’re having lunch afterwards. And I don’t know, there’s about seven or eight guys at the table, and one of the guys (we’ll call him Ben), one of my buddies, he said, “All right, Reilly. So what’s your #1 sales tip?” And you know, it’s interesting [be]cause I think about Value-Added Selling and Selling Through Tough Times, and there’s so many things that could come to mind, but there was one thing that really stood out. One thing that just popped into my head immediately. And that’s what we’re going to talk about on today’s show, all right, is, what is that #1 sales tip. One thing you can do that’s going to help you become more successful beginning TODAY.

Now, before we get into that, make sure you pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. It is clear. We are in a recession. We are in a downturn right now. This technique that I’m going to talk about today is even more critical in the current environment. Now, the full play-by-play on how to do it, how to make it happen, is available in Selling Through Tough Times, which is available on Amazon—wherever you get your books. Also in Value-Added Selling, we talk about this same technique. So it’s so important, we put it in both books.

So let’s get right down to it. When you’re thinking about all the things you need to do to close a deal—all the things you need to do to win over a new client—it can be overwhelming. Speaking of golf again, I remember when I used to take lessons, I told the pro who was giving me the lessons. He started giving me like three and four tips: remember to do this, get your hips through, make sure you rotate your hands, all this stuff. And I finally said to him, I go, “Look, there’s so much wrong with my swing. I can’t fix it all at once.” I said, “Let’s do this. Let’s focus on just one thing.” And that’s what I’m going to encourage you to do.

When you’re trying to improve, when you’re trying to become better at anything, you don’t need to do everything right or fix everything all at once rather. But what you do need to do is focus on one thing. And so, I’m going to encourage you to focus on this one tip. Now here’s the answer to that question, “Reilly, what is your number one sales tip?” Well, here you go. Ben. That tip is to stretch your customer’s time horizon into the future. The reason why we stretch the buyer’s time horizon into the future is because, in the future is where they experience the outcomes. But in the present is where they focus on what they must sacrifice. Let’s break this down a little more.

We, as humans, we are hardwired to think short term. We have an instant-gratification-seeking mindset. So here’s how that plays out in decision making. Let’s say, I don’t know, I’m going to buy a piece of equipment for $50,000. I have to pay $50,000 today, but all of the value, all of the benefits that are going to come from that equipment happen in the future. You know, think about it. You pay the $50,000 for the equipment. It shows up. I’ve got to set it up. I’ve got to train my new employees. All of that is basically a bunch of stuff I have to sacrifice: time, energy, effort, and money, and I’ve yet to really gain any value. So we need to get that buyer thinking into the future. Because again, in the future, buyers focus on outcomes, they do not focus on price or what they sacrifice.

So there are several ways that we can stretch that buyer’s time horizon. Several of my favorites are asking good questions—good, solid, long-term questions that will get your buyer out of the present moment and into the future. I’ll give you an example of this. I was talking to a guy who sells 401k investment plans for companies. And one of the things he would tell me about is that when they sign up new employees, when they sign up with a new company and they’re trying to get everyone to participate in their company’s matching program, one of the things that is challenging is to get these young professionals to take some of their paycheck and put it in the matching contribution. And the reason why is simple. Think about it. You’re in your early twenties, you probably have some student loans that you need to pay off. You’re not making as much money, so each paycheck, I mean, it’s going into the account and then it’s going right back out.

So here’s what I encouraged him to do. I said, “When you’re meeting with some of these new, young professionals or you’re speaking at the company event, go through this exercise where I want you to ask these young 20-year olds, ‘Thirty years from now, 40 years from now, when you are getting ready to retire, what does the ideal retirement look like for you?”

So think about that. We stretched their time horizon 30 years into the future, where they are getting ready to experience retirement: 30 or 40 years, whatever it may be. They’re not thinking about what they sacrifice today. They’re thinking about the trips they want to take. They’re thinking about that second house that they want. They’re thinking about financial security at that age, in the future, 40+ years away. That gets them out of the moment. It puts them in that ideal state where they want to be. And once they’re there, they’re not thinking about what they sacrifice. They’re not thinking about the $100 that’s coming out of their paycheck. What they’re thinking about is the ideal retirement.

So again, what we need to do is ask questions that get that buyer thinking long term. For example, talk to your client or your customer and say, “Okay, let’s fast forward two to three years from now. Let’s say two to three years from now, we’re talking about this project and just debriefing it. What would cause you to say that you’re really glad you partnered with us on this project? What would cause you to say that,” or “What’s the ideal outcome at the end of this project?” The key here, guys, we’re shifting their mindset away from what they sacrificed today, and into the future.

Now here’s the other part. And I probably shouldn’t even tell you this, because it’s in the book and I want you to buy the book, but what the heck, I’m going to tell you anyway. The other way we stretch the buyer’s time horizon is by presenting a long-term solution. So think about it. If we’re talking to our buyer, we want to stretch their time horizon. We may ask them, “Okay. Throughout this project, what’s important to you when making this decision? How do you define value from the beginning to the end of this project?” We’re getting our customer and our client to share their long-term needs with us. Once they start sharing their long-term needs, then we go back and present our long-term solution that details how we satisfy all of their needs throughout the entire project—throughout the entire end-to-end customer experience. And the only way they can experience all of those long-term benefits, that long term value, is by partnering with us. So we make them aware of what they stand to gain throughout the project.

And again, they’re thinking long term. Here’s why that is important. It gets them thinking beyond just the transaction. Because again, we have that short-term mindset. Customers look at a big buying decision and they say, “Okay, here’s what we do in the presale phase. Here’s what we do at the transaction. Here’s post sale.” They’re looking at the entire end-to-end experience. And if we can get them past the mere transaction, which is just the part that’s at the present where they’re going to sacrifice and pay the price—if we get them past that, they start to visualize, they think about that long-term value. So again, presenting a long-term solution to satisfy their long-term needs is another way to stretch that time horizon.

Here’s the deal. In tough times, this becomes even more important for an added reason. Everything I’ve already said is true to this point, whether you’re in good times or in tough times. But here’s the added element of tough times. Right now, your clients and your customers, your prospects, your buyers, all of them, they are experiencing uncertainty, and there’s some fear and anxiety. And all that is happening because of the economic conditions that we’re in: the recession element, the political uncertainty. All of that is going into the mind, inflation. There’s some uncertainty out here. So we don’t want our buyers thinking about all the uncertainty as they’re trying to make a big decision. So if the present seems a little too painful, get them out of the present and stretch that time horizon into the future as well. That’s why it becomes even more important.

But here’s another way we can stretch that time horizon. It’s not just stretching it forward, but it’s stretching it backwards. Think about this. When we are talking to a decision maker who’s going through tough times, we want to stretch their time horizon to a previous tough time. Because in a previous tough time (let’s say the Great Recession of 2008/2009), if we’re trying to sell that same $50,000 piece of equipment, right now, the buyer’s thinking, “Well, things are a little uncertain. I don’t know if I want to do this. Should I take the risk? I should conserve my cash.” That’s what they’re thinking because of the pain in the present moment.

So here’s what we need to do. Let’s talk to that buyer and say, “You know what, Mr. Buyer? Back in 2008/2009, we were facing a great recession, but your business has grown immensely since that Great Recession. It’s clear that you’re going to be a successful company, regardless of the tough times we face. So what can we do today to better position you to take full advantage of the next market upswing?”

See, now what we’re doing is we’re stretching their time horizon backwards—back to a previous tough time, in this case, the Great Recession. And what that buyer is thinking at some level, they’re thinking, “Wow, you know what? This salesperson’s right. Over the past 12 to 13 years, our business has grown immensely. We’ve been very successful. We’re going to continue to be successful.” And once they’re thinking in those terms they are in a much better mindset to make that decision.

So let’s do this. Let’s commit. All right. Just like when I was with the golf pro, I said, “Man, just give me one thing to work on versus trying to fix everything.” Over the next week, just focus on stretching that client’s time horizon. Stretch their time horizon into the future, because in the future, they focus on outcomes, and they don’t focus on what they sacrifice. When we face tough times, you can also stretch that time horizon backwards to help them realize that they are going to continue to be successful regardless of the tough times we currently face.

Everyone, that’s the tip for today. Stretch that buyer’s time horizon into the future/into the past. Get them out of the present and you’re going to make it rain.

Make it a big day.

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