I’ve a pal who’s a demon cold caller. His name is Chris Howard. He works out of an office in a lovely part of England slap bang in the middle of the Cotswolds. He’s really into listening to self-help tapes focusing on selling skills. I often think the main reason he listens to them is to remind him, after a bad day, that he can still do it and is better than some of the clowns making money from selling CDs.
Coincidentally, he shares his name with a sales “guru”. The other Chris Howard is an American sales trainer, and part of his portfolio is a 2-CD set recorded at one of his seminars, called Skyrocket Your Sales. Plainly intrigued by mere name alone, I said I’d listen to it.
Within the opening bars of CD1, I was already exasperated. I’m really not a fan of the Tony Robbins ‘I can change your life’ end of the market. I’m sure for some it is wonderful. Fine, let them enjoy. And straight away I thought this fella was going down the same route.
His first story was about someone selling him a suit. It was in Brisbane. And for the notoriously ill-travelled American’s, he pointed out “Brisbane, Australia”. Thanks, Chris. Now the first part of this, is that he never made any reference to Australia, or something quirky and relevant about being in Brisbane again, so in my experience he was making an amateur attempt to sound glam in front of his fee-paying audience. And then he went on to talk about how they ‘breathed in unison’. Nice. It took all my willpower to keep the CD on I can tell you.
And then it went from dodgy to dangerous.
He started talking about what we’d learn. And would you believe, one huge plank revolved around hypnotism. He was going to teach us how to sell more by hypnotising prospects? You have got to be joking. Forget it. So I skipped those tracks, no thank you.
And at last, if you could stomach the first half-hour, amazingly, there were a few good sales tips. And here they are:
SOAR to Riches – Chris Howard has the handy mnemonic s.o.a.r. to remind you what questions you need to ask at information gathering time. I thought this was actually kinda neat, it stands for:
Situation – the current situation, what’s going on now, ‘fill in picture & build rapport showing you care’
Objective – what do you want?, ‘fill in the blanks of where they wanna be’
Antecedent – barriers; strange use of the word, as if he’s delved into a thesaurus and tried to find a word beginning with ‘a’ that’s a synonym for barriers/hurdles/obstacles so he can make the word ‘soar’ happen, as technically, antecedent doesn’t mean what he forces it to mean here. He means finding what’s preventing them from getting to where they want to be. Maybe something like ‘avert’ or ‘avoidance’ is along more apt lines?
Reward – what’s it worth to you fixing all this?
Cialdini – part of his establishment of ‘reward’, our Chris talks glowingly about this psychologist who wrote the book about the science of persuasion. The power of a “contrast frame”, comparing two things to make one seem even better, he cites as fundamental in ramming home how the value of your proposal matches the need so well. And this is apparently only one of six patterns of influence. “what would it be worth to you to solve that problem” is the key question here for him.
Anchoring – I’ve come across something similar before, an anchor is a stimulus that helps bring back a certain response. And he quotes the famous Pavlov dog experiments, where eventually the sound of a tuning fork makes them salivate expecting food.
4 indicators of rapport – I found this interesting, as it breaks down how you can judge rapport is going. The four stages for Chris Howard are: 1) a feeling inside of connection, 2) a colour shift from lighter to darker like blushes, 3) familiarity statements that make them seem they know you already, and 4) when you’re leading them and they follow things like your body language. And the first 3 lead up to number 4.
Fearing an onslaught of hypnotripe, I’ll muster up all my reserves of determination, and listen to CD2 soon….