The behaviors that enable service professionals to be more persuasive begin with self-confidence in your knowledge of company’s services, value deliverables, policies and procedures. It is this self-confidence that makes a person more comfortable in building a relationship.
When you are confident and comfortable – you’re also much more likable. Service companies who seek to convert caller inquiries into more business must focus on being more relational and less transactional.
The pyramid (figure1) sets up a layered and prioritized structure by which we can illustrate and better understand the behaviors that make a service professional more persuasive.
Let’s begin with a service professional’s willingness to PREPARE.
An unprepared service professional is winging it and hoping for the best. You have probably learned, as I have, that hope is not a good sales strategy. And winging it results in unpredictable outcomes some of which can make things worse.
As we continue with our behavioral pyramid, we see that among the communication skill behaviors that make a service professional more persuasive, it is our ability to LISTEN that builds rapport.
And listening to someone else is so much more than just hearing the message. Real listening involves three key behaviors: (1) that we hear the details, (2) that we qualify, by asking questions to verify and (3) that we understand the message.
Real listening takes lots of energy to stay on track and minimize mind drift. The most persuasive service professionals understand that their role is to dominate the listening.
Our preparation and energetic listening enables us to show that we understand and can thereby convey EMPATHY. The empathetic message that customers relate to best is genuine, sincere and based on the customer’s word usage and terminology.
The purpose of the energetic listening referred to earlier, is to capture what the customer says and how the customer says it. When customers hear their own words conveyed in an empathetic manner, then this influences the customer to trust you to be their service provider.
It is during this empathy phase that a service professional should use what they heard, qualified and understood to share various options for how a customer can do business with us.
It’s like giving a customer numerous ways to say “YES”.
People like variety, they like selecting items from a menu. A service professional leverages persuasion to his or her advantage when customers get to select the option that works best for them.
A customer with whom we have built trust must be asked a question that is well-timed and asked in the correct manner.
A service professional’s ability to ASK this question is the pivot point and the apex of this pyramid.
When we prepare, listen and convey empathy, then the answer to the question we ask will more likely be a positive one.
The question we ask doesn’t have to be any more complicated than, “Which option works best for you?” or perhaps we might ask “When would you like to schedule this service?” or another way to ask is: “Among the solutions that we discussed, is there a one that stands out?”
After you ask the question, stop talking.
The next person who speaks must be the customer. And this is where being comfortable in your own skin is a key asset. Here’s why: after asking the question, there may be an awkward few seconds of silence. That’s OK – let it happen.
A persuasive service professional understands that there is a process in helping our customer to make a choice. And that is exactly what our role is – we help by being prepared, listening intently, being empathetic and asking the correct questions.