Look for the Loose Brick

Next time you come across a reluctant customer, don't go on the offensive. Instead, discover what your prospect considers a priority and begin there.

I hear salespeople say that speaking to a particular prospect was like "hitting a brick wall." The prospect seemed to get bored or, worse yet, to actually become defensive or offensive, every time the salesperson mentioned a product benefit or feature.

Next time you hit a brick wall, don't attack head-on. Instead, look for the loose brick. The loose brick is always the one thing which the client needs most. The loose brick is the absolute top priority to the client, at that given time. In the same way they say it is one step that begins the journey of a thousand miles, it's by starting to chip away at that one loose brick that will lead to taking down a prospect's entire wall of defense.

Finding the loose brick requires active listening and calm questioning. If you want your prospect to get down to the truth, you may need to expose a little of yourself first to establish a deeper trust. And if you take such an approach to your next difficult conversation, you'll successfully achieve two things.

1. Discover the real problem.

If you're actively looking for the loose brick, you might find out what's really a thorn in your client's side. And it's usually not what you'd expect. You've got to find what their internal problems are, and they usually aren't what's on the surface of their business. In fact, they are rarely related to the products or services you are selling.

Sometimes it's listening to their fears or frustrations about their current job or boss and offering an understanding ear. It could be just asking what their personal aspirations are relative to this project and assuring them that they will be met.

2. Avoid a complex sale.

Complex sales are just that -- complex, and we often don't have the time to execute them. Some people go into a sales call with a very well laid out plan of what they want to sell. You know what happens then? The buyer very often is inclined to figure out what about the proposal isn't right or needs to change.

You'll be better served by going into a sales call with a plan in mind than without one, that is true. But you must also have the willingness to listen, to react and find a way to place your value proposition in the context of their immediate needs. Once you begin to listen, sales will no longer be a time to sell but to let your prospect tell you what they want and you configuring your product or service around those needs.

By Keith Ferrazzi


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