Rock Products

NOV 2014

Rock Products is the aggregates industry's leading source for market analysis and technology solutions, delivering critical content focusing on aggregates-processing equipment; operational efficiencies; management best practices; comprehensive market

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ROCK products • NOVEMBER 2014 36 M emorizing and using a pitch is one‐ way communication. Interviewing the subject to learn about preferences, biases and needs, and then responding with a proposal that is uniquely phrased and adapted to the other party is a two‐ way communication process. The only skill required for the sales pitch is memorization. The advantage of a memorized pitch is it allows a lot of people with limited communication skills to be trained and put to work sell‐ ing a product or service. The drawback is that it doesn't allow for adaptation, so it can only be effective with people whose profiles match what the author of the pitch had in mind. No matter how friendly it is, arguing with a customer is also problematic. This is more interactive, but it turns the dialogue into a contest. Typically each party will use logic to advance an argu‐ ment, but really it is emotions that are driving the discourse, and as it develops each party becomes more and more en‐ trenched in his or her stated position. Another Approach Another kind of approach that has very limited potential is the pseudo inter‐ view. In this case one asks a series of leading questions and attempts to steer the other party to particular conclusion. This is like a bad movie script; everyone knows where it is going. These methods are like alchemy; they try to create motivation. Real motiva‐ tion isn't created; it is discovered like gold. When one wants to affect percep‐ tions or influence decision‐making in a sales or negotiation situation, it is preferable to learn something about the other party before making a proposal. The learn‐before‐you‐pitch approach is essentially an interview with a proposal at the end. After a series of questions and answers the interviewer learns what motivates the interviewee and can articulate a proposal that meets the in‐ terviewee's needs. The sales interview is in some ways more difficult and in some ways easier than other kinds of interviews. It is dif‐ ficult because it needs to focus on un‐ derlying needs or values, not on the product or service that is the subject of the interaction. This requires a series of open‐ended accounting questions. The Easy Part The easy part is that the sales interview doesn't have to start with a discussion of the product or service; the same val‐ ues influence all of the interviewee's ac‐ tions, so talking about coaching little league may reveal attitudes about coworkers employees and customers. The basic accounting question is why. It might seem rude to ask people why they said something, but most interviewees ap‐ preciate an opportunity to explain them‐ selves and will provide deeper insights. The interviewer listens for values that are consistent with the proposal. If the underlying value expressed is security, then the proposal is linked to security; if the value is safety, then the proposal emphasizes safety; if it's profit, then profitability, etc. A sales interview can be organized into six steps. 1) The opening introduces the topic, but more importantly it should build rapport. 2) The research phase probes for un‐ derlying values that might serve as motivators. 3) The interviewer tests what he or she is hearing by asking a couple summary probes: "so it sounds like you are mainly concerned about…" If correct, move on to step four. If not, repeat. 4) One establishes criteria. This can be a discussion of timing, quantity, qual‐ ity, cost, etc. 5) The proposal is communicated by summing up what was learned in step four. 6) Closes the interview with more rap‐ port building. Interestingly, the memorized sales pitch and step five are the same action. The difference is that in the sales interview steps one through four have allowed the interviewer to adjust the proposal to the client. Building rapport is extremely impor‐ tant. Unlike job interviewees the sub‐ jects in sales interviews have little or no interest in being interviewed. Exhibit‐ ing honesty and good will are the main ways to develop rapport and keep the interview flowing. It might seem counterproductive, but a willingness to not make the sale or win the argument is one of the best ways to build rapport. Research indicates that we appear most trustworthy when we take a position against our own best interest. E Thomas J. Roach, Ph.D., has 30 years experience in communication as a jour- nalist, media coordinator, communica- tion director and consultant. He has taught at Purdue University Calumet since 1987, and is the author of "An In- terviewing Rhetoric." He can be reached at . Sales Interviewing By Thomas J. Roach Sales Interactions Are More Manageable If One Approaches Them As Two-Way Communication Processes. COMMUNITY RELATIONS

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