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The Best Sales Training Teaches You How to be a Chameleon By Steve Richard


I lead a lot of sales training sessions that focus on the first half of the sales process. In the workshops we do a ton of live warm and cold calling on speakerphone.

I make and hear hundreds of prospect calls a year. Everyone wants the silver bullet for B2B sales, especially for landing that first meeting or interest. Get ready…here it is. If you look like your prospects, sound like your prospects, feel like your prospects, even smell like your prospects then you cease being a sales person and turn into a peer.

People hate salespeople, but they love people like them. If you are a chameleon, you will sell. Period.

You are probably thinking, “Great Steve, so how can I act like a chameleon.” It’s easier than you think.

1. Use “Client Voice” – Client voice or customer voice is a subtle but powerful way of phrasing things. Rather than saying, “We’re so great,” instead try, “Our customers work with us because of X, Y, Z.” A more advanced and nuanced way of doing this is to say something like, “Funny that you mention that.

I was just talking with another ABC executive last week who mentioned that … looks like that’s what you’re dealing with as well. How is it playing out there?” Tone is so important here; if you are down to Earth you are a peer. If you are too enthusiastic, you are a clown that doesn’t ‘get’ them.

2. Speak their language – my friend Steve W Martin talks about the confidential language of the C level exec. I’ll expand on this. Every type of executive speaks a certain language.

GCs speak the language of law, CFOs speak the language of finance, Chief Sales Officers speak the language of well, sales. Learn that language and they will let you in the club. This language is dictated not just by what functional area they are in now, but also what functional area they were trained in.

Beware: if an executive comes from a legal background but then gets into another function like, say, marketing, they will probably still think and sound sort of like a lawyer. If you sound like a lawyer and use those terms effectively, you have a higher probability of getting in the door on a cold or warm call.

3. Know what’s going on (or at least make smart educated guesses) – With all of the research tools at our fingertips, it’s sales malpractice to not at least try to make educated guesses about the issues facing your prospects. Using phrases like, “I bet you are facing,” or, “I did a little homework and figure that you are dealing with” work really well.

4. Word choice matters – If you really listen and actually hear the words that your prospects use, then you can subtly mimic their speaking style. This is where your CRM system comes in handy.

Get direct quotes from your prospects when they make key points, capture them in the CRM, then later phrase questions and comments in those same words. The best reps can key in on speech patterns and word choices to figure out if a prospect is a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic – the internal language of the mind. By doing this you can tap your prospects’ unconscious thought processes and realize the full power of language.

So you want to sell more? Be a chameleon.
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Professional sales trainer and coach Steve Richard is Co-Founder and Head Sales Trainer at Vorsight, a leading sales training firm based in Arlington, Virginia. Vorsight focuses on the first half of the sales cycle, providing tactical approaches that help B2B sales teams generate more opportunities and “get in the door.” Learn more at www.vorsight.com.

* Key Points: Look for ways to be a peer, rather than an outsider. In other words strive to use the same type of language in your sales calls that your prospects use. Know what’s going on in the company you’re calling on, or industry. Be informed.

-What were some other important takeaways you got from the article above?

*brought to you by SalesTrainingAdvice.com

  • Jasminenguyen8x

    I really like this article and also want to be a chameleon:)
    The fastest and the most colorful chameleon!
    Thanks ur sharing, Mr Steve Richard!

  • DG

    sometimes.. the slow chameleon is needed