Avoid high pressure selling: Use this 10:80:10 doctor’s prescription

To avoid high pressure selling, salespeople should take a page from the playbook of doctors when it comes to engaging with customers. Think back to your last visit to a doctor. As a percentage of the duration you took, what would you give for how long he took to prescribe? Better still, split the engagement into three: striking rapport, explaining your problem, and his giving a diagnosis. Unless you are seeing a quack, roughly, the percentage ratios were 10:80:10.

Applying the 10:80:10 rule to build trust and drive sales

Now then. If the ratios were, say, 30:30:40 you’d wonder halfway through the rapport, whether you came to hang out or seek medical attention. Let’s not go to 10:00:90 which, believe it or not, also happens even in the formal world. It’s crudest form in the informal one, is, “Sasa! Karamu twendi. Utanunua?” (sic) (Hi! Buy this pen for 20 shs). And in the formal one? Caught up in the novelty of your product, and blinded by your oil company’s reputed brand name, after the 10% rapport with the decision maker, you jump straight into, “Our fuel with additives is the only one of it’s kind. You should buy it for your factory.” He doesn’t.

And why? Because in both cases, there’s not even a lame attempt at establishing why he should buy. Remember buyers are selfish. They want to know what’s in it for them. What about 5:30:65? Now you would feel rushed, and worse, sceptical as to whether he really understood your ailment or just wants to sell.

This is why, 10:80:10 feels like just what the doctor ordered. Incidentally, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. For instance, this hawker nails it: “Hello madam! This pen compliments your dress. You should buy it.” That’s a complete 10:80:10 right there. You see, this balance ensures that the salesperson takes the time to establish a connection with the customer, thoroughly understands their needs and concerns, and provides tailored solutions effectively. By the way, more often than not, the solutions come of their own accord and tend to be sustainable. Just like a prescription. Which is why if the prescribed medicine does not work you go back to same doctor, depending of course, on how the primary engagement was like. True?

Read: Reasons why customers will buy or not buy your product

Example of high-pressure sales

Now, just as with you, the salesperson, the doctor is also selling. When your ratio is skewed to closing, the customer feels pressured. And unfortunately, the bulk of salespeople fall here. “After the meeting, two days later, I found three missed calls, sixteen text messages and two emails. I even started wondering what they were hiding with all this pressure. All I had said was, I’m flying to another state for a meeting that I’ve been called to suddenly. Please let me get back to you.”

This was a client in the diaspora who had reached out to a land selling company here and expressed interest in purchasing a piece. Three minutes into the initial engagement she made the request and got that unfortunate response. “And to imagine I’m the one that had reached out to them, and also assured them that I’d call back. I lost interest in them instantly.” Can’t blame her, can you?

Avoid high pressure selling

Finding the right balance to avoid high pressure selling

There’s a clear line between chasing a hot lead and having a quality customer engagement. Unfortunately, for most salespeople, there is no line, or it’s blurred at best. This is possibly driven by the continual rallying call, “Anyone calling in is a potential buyer and should be closed.” Yes, but there’s a process to it. You see, a hot lead is just one step (the first) in the sales cycle. Prospecting. The other 6 must still be seen through. You must build your own bridge for successful lead conversion. And this you achieve by spending the significant portion of your customer engagement seeking to identify the customer problem through asking insightful questions all in a conversational manner, not interrogation.

High pressure selling has no place in today’s world. Especially with equal seller and buyer access to information.  For instance: “We have customised packages and these discounted prices especially designed for you in our hotel where the Africa Housing Conference is being held. The offer expires in 48 hours. Our hotel is recommended by (name of globally acknowledged rating institution) and you will feel right at home here.” Meanwhile, the delegates in the countries being wooed to stay in said hotel where the conference is being held laugh at the pitch. “I am getting 30% off that rate on this online booking site who are their agent.” Or: “There’s this Airbnb I can stay in right across the road from them. And it’s a fraction of the cost.”

Read: Go on! Put your nose in the buyer’s business

Avoid high pressure selling. Prescribing success in sales engagements

In conclusion, avoid high pressure selling. The doctor’s prescription for successful customer engagements boils down to the 10:80:10 rule: striking rapport, understanding needs, and delivering solutions. By adopting this approach, sales professionals can establish meaningful connections with their customers, gain a deeper understanding of their requirements, and ultimately drive more successful sales outcomes.

Just as patients rely on doctors for expert guidance and personalized care, customers depend on salespeople to provide solutions that address their specific needs and challenges. So, the next time you engage with a customer, remember the doctor’s formula for success: strike rapport, understand the problem, and deliver the diagnosis – it’s just what the customer ordered.

Read: Sellers must be good advisors if customer is to be king


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