Looking to close more sales? Try magic…

Prof. Frances Frei, of Harvard University, says, “You cannot change someone’s behavior until you change their belief”. Magicians have been doing this for centuries. By taking the seemingly mundane and manifesting it into something…impossible, transforms the beliefs of the audience to a new normal. While many people agonize over how the trick was done, they would rather just enjoy the feeling they have of witnessing the event.

Here’s what author of The Prestige, Christopher Preist says:

“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird, or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.”

And what do your prospects want? They too, want to be fooled. Now, I’m not talking about bamboozling people, I’m talking about persuading them. A sales presentation can also be broken down into 3 parts. Let’s explore, shall we?

The Pledge

Imagine booking an appointment with an HVAC Technician for a new A/C unit. He shows up and courteously introduces himself and asks to learn more about your situation. The most influential salespeople understand that they must begin by revealing their good intentions or be damned as a sales pariah.

As you determine that this fellow is not likely to murder you in your sleep, he begins asking pointed questions about your needs. The questions are seemingly typical of an HVAC guy; temperature, problem areas, airflow, etc. He muddles about in your abode, points a little gun at your vents, and disappears outside to inspects your unit. Everything seems quite normal and unobtrusive.

Once a thorough inspection of your home is complete, he comes back in and asks to sit and discuss his findings with you. In the back of your mind, you note, he has already been more thorough than the other two companies that have quoted you. As you sit together, he begins reviewing his findings with you, waiting for you to agree, or provide more clarity, until you agree on all the points he has to address. You genuinely feel that you are both on the same page, but you are holding back expressing your enthusiasm as you fear that if it seems too good to be true, it likely is.

Then he drops a bomb…

The Turn

“You know we could fix this system up and squeeze at least a few more years out of it, right?”

Say what?…you think in your head. None of the other techs said that.

Gathering your composure, you ask him to explain.

By way of explanation, he sits beside you and scratches 4 quadrants on a plain piece of paper and says, “You need x, y, and z to repair your system up to par”. He writes those in one of the quadrants and continues. “Alternatively, you could invest in a state-of-the-art system with a handful of ideal upgrades including a, b, c, and d. Here’s why…” He writes that option in the second quadrant as he explains the benefits. “But if it were my home, I would do this system, with these two upgrades, a and c, and here’s why…”, he explains while writing the third option in a fresh quadrant.

The Prestige

Options? Upgrades? Fixing, not replacing? This is waaay different than anything I’ve seen before, you think. You instinctively believe this guy…like way more than the others. Worried that you can’t afford any of them, you ask the price.

“Understandably, the state-of-the-art system is a bigger investment. It is literally the very best system you could install for your home’s configuration, but it does solve the problem you shared with me about your bedroom temperature. This is the perfect fix, solved, done and dusted. It’s $XXX a month with $XXXX down. Now, most technicians are terrified to tell you about this option because it’s not cheap, but I believe you deserve to know all your options.”

“Alternatively, you could replace x, y, and z for $XXXX today. I have the parts in my truck and get it fixed right now if you would like. This option will buy you a few more years.”

“This option, however, is what I believe the best option for your specific scenario. It solves the x, and y issues completely, and makes the z issue much more bearable, and for only $XXX a month, and $XXXX down. As you can see, it’s three bucks less per day than the state-of-the-art system, but it will save you $30 a month in energy savings compared to your current unit, makes your home more comfortable, and safer with the surge protection.”

Wow, you think. This guy clearly knows his stuff. Plus, he’s given me way more choice than anyone else. The state-of-the-art system seems too pricey, but his preferred choice seems alright. It’s at the top end of my budget, but since it’s the right solution, it’s doable. I would like that nicer thermostat though…

“What if I got option three, but with the thermostat from option two”, you ask? “No problem”, he says calmly, writing the custom option into the final quadrant. “Would you rather us start installing it today, or first thing tomorrow morning?”

The Reveal

Like all great magicians, the power of your presentation is in the setup. This HVAC Tech understands that sales is theatre and that your prospects are hungry for a show. Not the hokey bumblings of a flim-flam artist. No. The elegant, confident, and persuasive flow of a true pro.

Let’s take a peek behind the curtain:

  • He starts by demonstrating warmth and concern for the prospect to demonstrate his trustworthiness.
  • He asks the questions that will help him properly diagnose the system requirements and potential upgrade opportunities.
  • He runs tests to determine what the best options are, being sure to demonstrate competence through his actions while gaining authority.
  • He reinforces what is about to come by gaining agreement and compliance before turning to the options.
  • He confidently provides creative and dynamic options that the prospect has NEVER been offered before, securing his authority as a professional.
  • He offered a wide [price]range of options to satisfy the prospects need to “shop around” and reduce the risk of making the wrong choice.
  • He presents all options as bundles, not just boxes to firmly differentiate from his competitors.
  • He presents product before price to firmly establish value over price.
  • He reduced the purchase to the lowest possible price, via payments, to minimize sticker shock.
  • He reduced the comparison of options down even further to make more expensive options more accessible, and inexpensive option less appealing.
  • He assumed the sale and carried on wrapping up the deal with next steps as if it were the natural thing to do.

When your salespeople gain the trust and authority needed to simplify the sales process, they are likely to close more sales, at a larger average sale, and at a higher gross profit. Competence breeds confidence, and confidence breeds courage to present options that are terrifying to conceive of when you’re living in survival mode.

The more often great options are presented, the more likely you are to sell more, better, faster.

Good selling.

PS – If you want your salespeople presenting options more effectively, feel free to get in touch with me. I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve.