This Month’s Selling Principle:
Pacing and Leading
The good news about pacing and leading is that we already do a lot of this naturally. First the definitions.
Pacing is the matching or mirroring of observable needs or behaviors.
Leading is the point at which we begin to influence or persuade.
Our customer’s state of mind heavily influences how he or she will behave. The first thing that we want to do is to make sure our customer is in a relaxed and a receptive state of mind. We must first pace our customer’s wants, needs, and behaviors, building rapport, before we can even hope to lead them. It is a common mistake that most sales people make to present the product or service and then try to get the customer to feel good about it. That is exactly how we leave the impression of being pushy. Working the other way around is much more effective. We must first get our customer to feel good and then present our product or service. Pacing and Leading skills are two components required to do just that.
Pacing our customer can be conscious or unconscious. It can be verbal or nonverbal. There are a myriad of different things that we can pace. We can pace our customer’s body language, their posture, their facial expressions, the way they shrug, the way they use their hands. We can pace our customer’s speech, their verb choices, their volume, their rate, their tone. We… can… talk… to… our… customers… like… this, (very slowly) but that will not be very effective if our customer is talking rather quickly. So, we want to be able to pace their pace. We can pace our customer’s priorities whether they are people oriented or task/things oriented. Obviously, we can pace our customer’s need to be valued and understood. We can pace their mood. We can pace their preferred communication style using neurolinguistic programming (NLP). Remember people generally like people who are like themselves, and there is always something for us to pace if we pay attention. Let me give you a couple of examples of pacing or mirroring in our personal and professional lives that you have already seen.
The first example is this; try to remember back to the last time you saw a group of your friends talking together. You had been at a party maybe or some other social function where you were able to step back and observe your friends or coworkers. You saw a group of three or four people talking, getting more and more animated and something interesting happened. One of them will fold their arms and then eventually all of them are folding their arms. Or one of them will put their hands in their pocket or lean back and you will find that eventually in time, everyone else has put their hands in their pocket or is leaning back. That is called being in rapport. You can tell that they are in rapport by watching their body language — their body gestures.
Here is another example. Remember the last time you went out to dinner? It is easy for us to identify couples who are either out on the first date or second date. They are leaning forward. They are gazing in each other’s eyes, maybe they are holding hands, but they are intent on each other. It is just as easy to identify a couple who is not getting along or who is not in rapport. One is leaning back, the other one is either reading a menu or looking to the side. They are not intent on each other.
Here is an excellent exercise to demonstrate to you the reality of pacing. It is real cheap entertainment, too. The next time you are at a restaurant, identify a couple who is obviously not in rapport and anonymously send over a bottle of wine — then watch what happens. You’ll see them both leaning forward. They’ll take a quick look around to say thank you and then a look of fear will come across their faces as they realize they don’t recognize anyone. One of them will continue to look around secret agent-like. You know, not wanting the wine gifter to see that they are still trying to find them. Then, they will try to figure out together who in the room it could possibly be that sent them the wine. You will see them leaning forward, you will see them being more animated in their talking. They will be intent on each other.
This does a couple of things, 1) you help make their evening, and 2) you end up leaving the restaurant about three feet off the ground because you know you helped another couple improve their evening. Like I said before, it is real cheap entertainment. It is wonderfully entertaining. It will also be an investment in your career so you can demonstrate first hand the magic of pacing and of being in rapport.
Next is leading our customer, and like pacing our customer, it can be conscious or unconscious, and it can be verbal or non verbal. We lead when we introduce new information or ideas. Leading is also a test for rapport because if they follow us then we have established rapport. If they do not follow us, then we just have to go back to pacing.
We lead with agreement frames like, “I agree” or “I understand” or “I can respect that” or “I appreciate that” or phrases similar to these. In school we were taught that after someone stands up in class and gives a two minute dissertation on what ever their take on the subject at hand is, and even though we agreed with 90% of what they said, we were trained to raise our hand and immediately focus on the 10% that we disagree with. At least, that is how I was schooled. What I am asking us to do is completely abandon that behavior. Agreement framing is taking a customer’s statement and even though we disagree with 90% of what they say, the first thing that comes out of our mouth is focusing on the 10% that we do agree with. Again, it goes back to pacing the customer or your friend’s need to be valued and understood. It also makes it a little easier for them to open up to the other 90% that you are going to share with them that you are in disagreement with. So whenever an opportunity arises for you to focus on agreements, start your presentation with an agreement frame.
We can also lead by using proper connecting words like “and” instead of “but”, or using “when” instead of “if”. Let me give you some examples. Notice the difference between these two statements.
“Tommy, you did a good job cleaning up your room, but the job is not done until you put away your shoes.” As opposed to this; “Tommy, you did a real good job cleaning up your room, and when you put away your shoes, the job is done.”
Do you hear the difference? The second way sounds more affirming, doesn’t it?
How about these next two; “Mr. Jones, if you put $5,500 down, your payments are only $450 a month.” As opposed to this; “Mr. Jones, when you put $5,500 down, your payments are only $450 a month.”
Can you hear the difference? The second way sounds more confident, doesn’t it? It assumes they’ll be putting down the $5,500.
We need to focus on the words that we choose. We are the professionals. We are the ones that get to practice this over and over and over again. There is no excuse for us to use words that automatically raise red flags with our customers, automatically shoot up their defenses when we can control that. This takes a little practice, of course. It means changing some past habits that we have had. We will reap lots of benefits when we learn to use the correct connecting words.
We can also lead by using something called embedded commands. Examples are: “Put $5,500 down and your payments are only $450 a month.” or “Include the service contract with your lease and your payment is only $11 more a month.”
Instead of saying “if” or “when” — it is a command. “Put this down and you will get that.”
We lead, also, by using the customer’s name. It helps them feel comfortable with us. Also, we automatically increase the effectiveness of a closing statement or closing question by simply adding the customer’s name to it. As a matter of fact, when we start the closing statement or question with the customer’s name it increases the chances of them agreeing even more.
There are other ways to pace or lead our customers, of course, but these few are a good place to start. Remember, the intent of pacing and leading is simply to help our customers feel more comfortable, more at ease at doing business with us. We all know that purchasing a vehicle can be a very trying experience. For one, it is way too much money. Secondly, they are in an environment that they aren’t normally comfortable with, e.g., the negotiating part of our business. So, we as professionals need to do as much as we can to make it as pleasurable for them as possible. One way to help them feel comfortable is through rapport building and one of the ways we can start to build rapport is by pacing and leading our customer.
So, until next time, be well, and do good work!
Michael D. Hargrove
Follow on Twitter @MDHargrove
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Dr. Stephen Covey
Objection of the Month:“How much discount can I get?”
These are just a few of the most common strategies shared at the workshops we’ve conducted all across North America and attended by thousands of the top sales people in our field. Please keep in mind that nothing works all the time, and no one thing will work for everybody. Each of these strategies, of course, need to be tailored to the individual user, to the specific customer, and the particular situation. Also, this is by no means the definitive work on overcoming this particular objection and it’s not intended to be.
a. “They don’t normally discount this model, by the way, who’s going to drive this car most of the time, you or Mrs. Customer?” (This is simply a version of the Bypass technique.)
b. “I don’t know but we’ll check with the manager in just a moment to find out. My first job is to make sure we find just the right car for your wants and needs. Did you want the four door or the coupe?”
c. “I know discounts are important. It’s important to me too, Ms. Customer, when I’m the buyer. It’s also important to me when I’m the buyer that I get just the right item I’m looking for. Let’s first make sure this is the right truck for you, then we’ll work out the very best figures we can. Does that sound fair?”
d. “Adjusting numbers is the easiest part of my job, Ms. Customer. We adjust numbers all day long. What I can’t adjust, however, is your taste. So, first let’s find just the right car for you and then I’ll show you just how easy it is to do business with us. Now, tell me, were you looking for a 5 speed or an automatic?”
e. “We’ll definitely get to the numbers part of your purchase when we go inside together. While we’re outside, though, let’s make sure you’re not paying for stuff you won’t need or missing stuff you will. Actually, that’ll effect the price too, won’t it?”
f. “I’m sure that we will be able to save you some money, and if for some reason we can’t arrive at a discount amount that’s acceptable to you, then I wouldn’t expect you to do business with us. That’s fair isn’t it?”
g.“Sounds like you’re ready to do business! C’mon in, bring your checkbook and I’ll have you out in this car in about twenty minutes!” (Then we turn and walk towards the showroom. If our customer balks we say:) “You’re right. I am getting ahead of myself aren’t I? Did you want a two door or a four door?”
h. “Exact discount amounts are fluctuating all the time. Once we find your next car, we’ll then be able to find out how much discount the current market will allow us. It’s an easy process. Now, what do you mean when you say ‘fully loaded’?”
Next month’s objection will be: “I don’t have a lot of time.” We need YOUR input! Please forward your ideas on this one, or your suggestions on which objection to cover next, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I only play well when I’m prepared. If I don’t practice the way I should, then I won’t play the way I know I can.”
Sooner or later, you start taking yourself seriously.
You know when you need a break.
You know when you need a rest.
You know what to get worked up about and what to get rid of.
And you know when it’s time to take care of yourself, for yourself.
To do something that makes you stronger, faster, more complete.
Because you know it’s never too late to have a life.
And never too late to change one.
Just Do It !
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Laws of Success
by Jack Yianitsas
Do you want something ? — Will you pay the price ?
The great sin — Gossip.
The great crippler — Fear.
The greatest mistake — Giving up.
The most satisfying experience — Doing your duty first.
The best action — Keep the mind clear and judgment good.
The greatest blessing — Good health.
The biggest fool – The man who lies to himself.
The great gamble — Substituting hope for facts.
The most certain thing in life — Change.
The greatest joy — Being needed.
The cleverest man — The one who does what he thinks is right.
The most potent force — Positive thinking.
The greatest opportunity — The next one.
The greatest thought — God.
The greatest victory — Victory over self.
The best play — Successful work.
The greatest handicap — Egotism.
The most expensive indulgence — Hate.
The most dangerous man — The liar
The most ridiculous trait — False pride.
The greatest loss — Loss of self confidence.
The greatest need — Common sense.
“A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master gardener of his soul, the director of his life. He also reveals, within himself, the laws of thought, and understands, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought forces and mind elements operate in the shaping of his character, circumstances, and destiny.”
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