Lots of sales processes are pain-focused. You dig for the pain, find the pain, and use the pain to sell your program. These processes can be great and they have merit, but it’s even more powerful to start with a vision of the end result and contrast it with their current reality.
I call this process of contrasting stretching the gap. In the last post, we talked about the first step: painting the picture. This is when we help our prospects get really clear about where they want to go.
The next step is helping our prospects get really clear about their current reality by facing the facts.
Lots of sales processes are pain-focused. -Taki Moore [Tweet This]
The Stockdale Paradox
In Good To Great, Jim Collins tells the story of James Stockdale, the late US Navy vice admiral who spent over seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
When Collins interviewed Stockdale, he asked what got him through the POW experience. Stockdale said it was his unshakeable belief he would make it.
Collins then asked Stockdale who didn’t make it out of the POW camp.
Stockdale quickly replied, “Oh, that’s easy — the optimists. They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Jim Collins called this The Stockdale Paradox. It’s the balance of unwavering faith that a situation will get better and gut-level honesty about the current reality.
To help our prospects see the potential impact our coaching program can have on them, we need to show them the harsh reality they’re in right now.
Coming Back To Reality
Sales guru, Ari Galper, uses this phrase: Perhaps you could share with me a little of your situation.
This sounds so innocent, but I’ve learned that the term “situation” is nice-guy code for “tell me about the mess you’re in right now.”
Once we’ve helped our prospects envision the possibilities and start dreaming again, we want to say, “Great! Hold onto that picture, but let’s come back and have a look at how things are right now.
“I want to know everything that’s going on. Tell me about your marketing. Tell me about your business. Tell me about your sales. Tell me about your team. Do you have virtual assistants? How are they working for you? Tell me about your profits and losses.”
When we take them from their vision to their reality, something interesting happens to their emotions. The vision takes them to an emotional high, and the reality brings them right back down… hard.
We want them to face the facts, which is just as important for you as it is for them.
The thing is, most people are in complete denial about what’s really going on in their world. Entrepreneurs, especially, tend to downplay the negative and overstate the positive, but this isn’t that kind of conversation.
Probably for the first time in their life, your prospects gets to have a conversation where they’ll see both what’s possible for their business and what’s holding them back from getting there.
That’s a really different kind of conversation than most people have, and it gives them a tremendous amount of value.
It also gives you a really clear picture of what you’re dealing with and helps you position yourself as the solution to their problems.
Up next on the blog, we’ll look at the third step of stretching the gap: eyeballing the obstacles.