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Increase Your SMB’s Agility Through Technology — The Great Equalizer

A few years ago, one of my reps and I were on a video conference with a prospect based in Portland. Without our prompting, he began to talk about all of the issues he was having with one of our competitors. We let him vent, because it was clear he needed someone to listen to his complaints. Then, much to our surprise, he said, “I can tell by the way you guys are smiling that you know what I’m talking about.” And that’s when we knew we had closed the deal.

I’m absolutely positive that we won this client over due, in large part, to the technology we were using, and here are two reasons why:

1. Our communication platform creates high-value conversations that build credibility.

A good sales rep would rather speak to prospects and clients in person, rather than communicate by phone. Why? Because observing a consumer’s body language is a great way to glean whether or not your pitch is effective.

As I’ve said before, nonverbal cues are essential for building trust and creating valuable conversations. Both body and eye movements show levels of interest and/or indifference, clueing you in to how a prospect is appraising everything you say, as you say it.

Had our meeting taken place over the phone, my rep and I would still have been able to  listen to the prospect gripe about our competitor, but we wouldn’t have been able to read his gestures. Worse, he wouldn’t have been able to see our reactions to his complaints. Video-conferencing technology allowed us to both build trust with him easily and sell effectively.

2. We didn’t sell past the close.

Without a video platform, my rep and I might have run the risk of ‘burning the toast,’ better known as selling past the close. When it comes to the tools you’re using to communicate with prospects, burning the toast almost always stems from a lack of agility. When a rep doesn’t have the ability to see a prospect face to face and read his body language, he risks overselling to the point where a prospect backtracks and changes his mind about a deal.

For example, had our prospect in Portland not been able to see our expressions, he would not have commented on our smiles, and my rep and I might have felt a need to over-explain our product in an effort to convince him that we could do better than the competitor that had let him down. And doing that would have been risky, because over-explaining can create doubt in a buyer and put the sale at risk.

As Bob Poole says in Listen First, Sell Later, “People have to buy YOU before they buy anything FROM you.” The visual and audio cues that our conferencing platform provided that day helped sell us and helped us become better sales people.

What this means for SMBs.

To gain agility through technology is to innovate while your competitor’s resist change. An example of this comes from the movie Moneyball, the story of an underdog baseball team that used technology to beat their larger, wealthier competitors.

In the film, the disadvantaged Oakland A’s wanted to get to the top of the league, but had less money and resources than their MLB competitors, so they were forced to evolve and get creative on an uneven playing field. Inspired by need, the A’s invested in a data-driven tool that helped them become more effective, more agile, and beat their richer opponents. For the team, technology became the great equalizer, and through it they were able to show  the league and their fans the value and power of innovation.

If you’re a small business, embrace the agility that goes along with that and use technology as your great equalizer. After all, the communication technologies that you use should speak volumes about you. It should tell your prospects that you’re an innovative, relatable rock star, and you’re all smiles.

Tweet me — @Prante — using the hashtag  #TheGreatEqualizer to let me know what you decide.

Photo credit: SanFranAnnie

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