Research in the way adults learn things can have a high payoff when you find ways to adapt it to the world of sales and marketing.
For example, when people acquire knowledge through firsthand experience, it is more meaningful – and has a more lasting impact – than reading or hearing about the experience of others.
Experiential selling builds on theories of experiential learning, by helping buyers “learn by doing,” the same way students do. The “Aha!” moment will come to them sooner, through emotional engagement triggered by hands-on investigation and experience.
That “Aha!” flash comes when a prospect or customer “gets it.” Such revelations are emotionally based, and have little to do with linear reasoning or logic.
Here are three ways you can put experiential selling to work and generate those Aha! moments:
1. Ask the right questions
One way you can set the stage for an Aha! is by asking questions, rather than making statements. Listening passively, by itself, rarely engages the prospect emotionally, and engagement is fundamental to experience.
When you ask the right questions – those that get buyers to really think something through, to visualize a chain of events, and to come up with an answer (or solution) on their own – you will see their eyes light up.
That Aha! moment comes from the fact that people are conditioned to believe what they experience, not what you tell them they will experience. Unless they have their own hands on the wheel, they won’t steer where you want them to go.
2. Trials and pilots
Look for ways to give prospects more hands-on experiences with your product or service, whatever it may be. In computer software, for example, vendors often provide a free version, perhaps with limited functionality. Users can work with it, see the benefit for themselves and become zealous converts.
Another option is to arrange a site visit to an existing customer, where the prospect can see your equipment (or other solution) in use, speak to the operators, perhaps even run it themselves, with you acting as co-pilot.
Of course you will need to adapt this idea to your unique situation. A major project may call for a small-scale “test drive,” as proof of concept. This approach gives the prospect a feeling for how the entire experience will unfold, and serves as a quick “win” that can gain buy-in from others in the organization.
3. ROI calculators
We know a top seller of safety glass that used to bring a sheet along on sales calls, give the buyer a hammer and tell him to “Have at it!” We’re all so sophisticated now that it seems, well, quaint. But the point is still valid, eh?
And now that we all have laptops or iPads and spreadsheets, getting prospects to input their own numbers into an ROI calculator is just one more creative way you can get to that Aha! moment.
Watch their eyes light up when they see the money they can save (or make) using your solution. Of course you want to make sure the calculations are vetted by your own Finance people, and your programming is bulletproof.
Source: Adapted from a posting by Nancy Nardin at www.smartsellingtools.com
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