It takes a lot of work to secure an appointment. Because appointment ratios are small, optimizing your meetings will have a significant impact on your overall ROI. In this section we will discuss a few techniques that will increase your ability to close more deals in meetings.
I. First or Last? Should you present first or last? Whether you go first or last depends on the timing between presentations. If the presentations are back-to-back, you should be the first to present. This will help you distort the perception your prospects have of your competitors. If there is more than a week between presentations, its best if you go last in order to leave a lasting impression.
II. How Many Options? Research suggests that customers who are shown one option buy 10% of the time. Customers who see two options (including your competitor’s product) buy 66% of the time. More than two products will drop the close ratio significantly. The research suggests that the client wants to feel secure about their decision by comparing it to something else, but if too many options are presented, they feel overwhelmed.
In general products and solutions are more complex than our minds can comprehensively understand. Our ability to compare complex solutions is limited and will create a stressful scenario in the brain. To avoid mental meltdowns, we need to provide information in the format our brains prefer. We need to begin by priming the brain and creating a relevant structure to work with. For example, if you were selling a car, you could show statistics on the average price of cars before you show any options. The two options presented (also known as dualole persuasion) need to be in the same realm, but at the same time vastly different. When two comparative items are too similar, your brain will suffer a brain freeze. In order to demonstrate the differences between two products, focus on clearly defined values and benefits.
III. Hot or Cold Drink? Unless it’s hot outside, you should always offer a warm drink (like hot chocolate). The warmth of the drink has been proven to place the nervous system at ease, helping the decision process to go smoother.
IV. How Should You Sit? It doesn’t matter so much how you sit as long as it mimics the prospect. If your prospect crosses their legs, mimic their behavior. This has shown to significantly increase close ratios, but always make sure your actions are subtle.
V. Morning or Afternoon? When should you schedule your meeting? Due to the fact that your brain is fresher in the morning, you are more likely to get a yes early on in the day rather than later. As the day goes on, your ventral lateral prefrontal cortex wears down and loses its decision-making abilities. The ventral lateral prefrontal cortex is like a set of breaks that has limited abilities. As the day goes on, its resources become depleted. Attempting to make a decision when these resources are depleted strains the resources further causing the prospect to postpone the decision. In fact, scientists have found that stressful situations can induce autistic like mindsets. The perceived fear of change will be augmented and more often than not, your clients will choose the status quo.
VI. Left or Right Side? Dr Luca Tommasi and Daniele Marzoli from the University Gabrile D’Annunzio ran an experiment asking favors in both the right and left ears to determine if their success rate would be influenced by the ear they approached. In the end they discovered that the right ear was much more effective for securing favors from their test subjects. When meeting with prospects, position yourself on their right in order to concentrate your voice in their right ear.
VII. Soft or Hard Chairs? Soft chairs will help put your prospects at ease while hard chairs will cause them to feel tense and think twice about their decisions.
VIII. Smells? Using nearly identical retail stores, one scented and the other unscented, the scented store had a significantly higher success rate compared to the unscented store.
IX. How to Persuade? The ability to change one’s perspective is at the heart of the meeting. The art of changing someone’s opinion is easier than you think. It will require you to entertain both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. At the heart of the persuasion process is novelty. The mindset will never change without a fresh new perspective. If your prospect does not learn something new from you, there perspective will not change. Novel insights will lead your customer to come to their own conclusion. If you make the conclusion for them, they will not adopt the new perspective (they need to be led not fed). In order to avoid trampling on their conclusion process, you need to provide information without conclusions. The most effective strategy for leading your customer to their own conclusions is by avoiding the mistake of offering your opinion. Let graphs, statistics, evidence, and stories speak for themselves.
Prospects who come to their own conclusions are more likely to buy from you. The elaboration likelihood model suggests that there are two paths to persuasion: Logic and association. Logical persuasion employs statistics and graphs where association connects arguments to existing beliefs using similarities, positive images, cues, etc. While both strategies should be used, long-term change and persuasion resistant conclusions are most likely to be achieved through high-thought logical strategies. If statistics are packaged using examples (stories), it will evoke emotion, strengthening the argument further.
To further enhance your logical explanation strategy, remember to expand your list of evidences. The length-implies-strength heuristic has shown that additional evidence has a low level of diminishing returns; the more evidence you can provide, the more persuasion power you will have.
X. How to Create Desire? Your customer needs to first understand why they need your product before you can take them on the buying journey. The customer’s buying journey can be broken down in to four steps known as the transtheoretical model: ignorance, contemplation, planning, and action. Creating desire is the process to move your client from the ignorance stage to the contemplation phase.
To initiate this process, you need to focus on existing fears rather than trying to create new ones (the latter is much harder to do). The formula for desire starts with tension, which comes when one of our basic needs (survival, free from pain, feeling connected to others, comfort, competition, protect others, and social approval) is not met. Rather than addressing this from a corporate level, it is more effective to uncover the decision maker’s personal tensions. Are they afraid of losing their job? Are they concerned with how others perceive them in the workplace? Do they need a raise? Do they need to protect their employees?
While the risk associated with the fear may be low, the way we present the risk factor will influence how seriously the prospect considers the risk. If your client has a three percent chance of going bankrupt due to a security breach, it would be more effective to state that three out of a hundred businesses will go bankrupt who experience a security breach. The latter example will feel more real and have a larger impact on their fear.
The purpose of this exercise is not to have your prospect tell you their problems, but for you to help them see hidden problems. You need to understand their business and industry well enough to perceive problems that your prospect is unaware of, but are real. Surveys and experiments will provide you with the insights and answers to help fuel this discussion and ultimately provide real value.
The most effective strategy for helping your prospects visualize their problems is through rhetorical questions. By nature, our brains our hard wired to answer questions. Rhetorical questions are more effective than traditional questions because the prospect can answer their question in the quite state of their mind without the influence of others who may hear the question out loud (this forms an open loop in the reader’s mind). The process of change requires your prospect to act. Without questions, your prospect will never be involved in the sales process. If you require your prospect to answer out loud, the answer will be influenced by those in the room, inhibiting their ability to truly see the challenge.
XI. Physical or Digital Content? While digital information is typically the standard, if you wish to generate an emotional attachment to your presentation, physical content (printed documents) will be much more effective.
XII. Pricing? A few cents can significantly influence the outcome of your meeting. The Odd-Even pricing theory states that odd prices like 33, 91, and 73 signal greater value to your clients compared to whole numbers (like $10.00). On the other hand, products that exhibit greater quality will consist of whole numbers (like $10,000).
XIII. Font? Your marketing team will almost always generate beautiful easy to read presentations. While common sense would suggest that this will lead to greater sales, but sales studies suggest that the more effort your prospect employs in understanding your presentation, the greater the retention rate will be. More laborious fonts will also enhance the product’s perceived value.