I was recently reminded of an early realisation of mine. It's from once I'd ascended the greasy pole of Sales and become a senior Manager. Specifically one with a buying budget.
I was passing through a potential vendor town. So in the interests of time 'n territory management, arranged to pop in.
What struck me, almost from the off, was how un-businesslike the session was.
Rather than being the meeting of relative peers - where regardless of job title there was typically a respect for each other's capabilities and viewpoints - of which I'd become accustomed to naturally cultivating during my formative selling days, there was a distinct imbalance in the type of engagement.
I felt a fawning, obsequious, deferential subservience. It was uncomfortable.
It prevented us getting into the real heart of the matter at hand.
As well as a fatal barrier to the kind of meeting of minds that leads to partnership.
I recalled this when party to a discussion on a seemingly 'emotionally distant' prospect. Conversation never quite seemed to fully open. Response damp. Cards glued to the chest.
I mentioned the old trope of making them feel important.
Whilst a reluctant prospect is not necessarily the same as one disengaged, there's a school that suggests everyone wants to feel important and you must enable this to sell to them.
This may have become a little out of fashion now. I understand that. So called 'challenger' sellers hog the headlines.
Yet even with Americans, I've used their example of the Ben Franklin Effect. With its success from asking someone not in your camp to loan you a book you've heard they have.
That's one good example of making someone feel important without being sycophantic. Leading to discussion flowing forth.
Plenty other tactics are available to us to prise doors ajar when selling. After all, as the saying goes, every locked door has its key.
Whilst I'm sure you can surf for countless pop-psych options on this, here's a quick trio I also touched on during this live deal analysis.
Expertise. Finding out what they're expert in. Dig in. Home in on angles around it which relate to the issue in play.
Opinion. Ask them what they think about something. Especially useful when in group setting. Do it more than once. Be prepared to tease them out of any stonewalling.
Collab'ing. Generate a mini "puzzle". Seek out their help to resolve it together. Not just in the obvious 'answer', but with the 'process'. Help in defining the parameters of it, deciding how to go about it or writing the scoresheet for grading the output.