It’s incredible to think that people work in environments where they partake in situations that could result in Life or death outcomes.
The experience of the salesperson is far from this. However, what if you could develop skills that are used by people in these work environments. How powerful and more successful would this make you?
I had the incredible fortune along with my LinkedIn colleagues to listen to a real life hostage negotiator Mark Todd who is at the front end of dealing with domestic, hostage, kidnap and crisis negotiation situations for the Greater Manchester Police. He has worked alongside Richard Mullender former head of Scotland Yard National Hostage and Crisis Negotiation Unit who has also shared his incredible experience with us.
The insights shared were deeply interesting and used with integrity very useful. Some of the ones that stood out for me I will share in this post. I was so inspired by what I heard I went out immediately and bought Richards book (Communication Secrets of a Hostage Negotiator) as well as searched the web all weekend to find out more about the history of negotiation.
Modern day hostage negotiation has been around since 1972 when a special team within the NYPD was created to respond to and negotiate with individuals in crisis and hostage situations. Over years of studies the core principles have remained the same and are used by hostage negotiators all over the world.
Although far removed from what a salesperson has to deal with. Fundamental success in a negotiation situation comes down to excellent communication and listening skills. Skills everyone has the opportunity to develop with practice.
Most salespeople would agree that people buy from people they like. Likability plus credibility and trust help you close the sale.
Where huge mistakes are made though is that salespeople make it about them. They forget to leave their ego at the door and they forget to focus everything on the customer or prospect. I’ve talked before about confidence and its importance but overconfidence is a repellent in sales situations.
We have all heard in our lives that we have two ears and one mouth. I think we can all can be reminded to shut up and listen more (I certainly can). The negotiators taught us the importance of ‘active listening’ – for only really listening will help you understand the buyers true values and beliefs for you to use to help you persuade and influence them.
When I enter a meeting room I want the person sitting opposite me to feel comfortable with me. My dress, hand shake, eye contact all set the tone for a positive and successful outcome. Something to really help focus on the other person is to see if you can make out the colour of their eyes. Honestly this had not occurred to me before but it’s a brilliant way to engage in active listening.
Remember it’s all about them and not you. Expand rapport building to learn about the personal aspects of their life. I have always been told to ask intelligent questions in discovery but it is has been recommended that more can be learnt with less questions. Encourage the conversation along with head nods, summarising back what you have heard and stating the impression of what you have heard with sound bites like: "It sounds like you", "it feels like you" and "I sense that." Rather than passing judgement on what you hear.
A couple of really valuable reminders was that a negotiation starts from the very beginning of the sales process. The first call or email sets the first impression for a process of helping the buyer want to buy from you.
Also preparation going into any call or meeting is critical. Don’t let yourself down because in a real life hostage situation piss poor preparation could cost someone their life.
Deadly sales tactics they may not be but hopefully you agree a few pretty powerful pointers that if practised can help you improve your success.