Master Harvard’s 3 Steps to Close More Sales – Freight 360

Master Harvard’s 3 Steps to Close More Sales – Freight 360

Freight 360 By Freight 360

Have you ever gone into a sales call with a list of questions, firing them off just as you were taught? You ask, “What are your challenges with your current providers?” or “Can you describe your decision-making process?” But even as you ask them, it feels more like an interrogation than a conversation. The call ends, and you feel like you aren’t any closer to doing business together. Hell, you don’t even believe they’ll remember the conversation ten minutes from now, let alone send the email they promised.

Stick with me as we learn the three simple steps taught at Harvard Law School’s negotiation program and close more sales. Once you apply them, you’ll be able to connect with prospects faster and in a more lasting, meaningful way. You’ll even be able to use these techniques to avoid boring small talk in everyday interactions with friends, family, and coworkers.

Tip One: Ask Deep Questions

Deep questions ask about values, feelings, beliefs, or experiences. Rather than asking about the facts of their job like, “Do you work in the office or remote?” ask how they feel about their job. What’s the best part about your job? Or “What do you enjoy most about it?” Studies show that people love answering deep questions because it gives us a chance to share something meaningful.

Deep questions are also easy to ask. Like when I’m at my daughter’s dance class sitting with other parents. I might ask, “What do you do for a living?” and then follow up with, “Do you love that job?” or “Do you have something else you’ve dreamt of doing?” Two questions in, and I’ve gotten to someone’s dreams.

Starting with small questions is best, like: How long have you worked there? What’s it like in Memphis this time of year? This will help the other person feel more comfortable and relaxed which is crucial if you want to close more sales. High-performing salespeople ask 10-20 times more questions than the average person, which makes the person they’re speaking with feel more at ease and like they’re being heard.

Too often, new salespeople think that the point of a conversation or sales call is to convince the other person of something. But the real point is simply to understand the other person. But, it isn’t enough to simply understand them, to close more sales, you also have to prove you’re listening to them.

Tip Two: Prove You Are Listening

Often, when we’re talking to someone new, there’s a subconscious suspicion in our minds. Is this person really listening, or just waiting for their turn to talk?

You can only connect with someone if both of you believe the other is actually listening. So, to close more sales, it’s essential that we prove we’re listening. One easy way to achieve this is through asking follow-up questions. Follow-up questions show we’re paying attention. They also help the other person to trust and like you. This is a technique called looping for understanding. It’s when you ask a deep question, listen to the other person’s response, then repeat back, in your own words, what you heard.

Many people don’t know how to show they’re listening. Speaking, and definitely making sales calls, is such an intense cognitive activity that, often, speakers don’t notice how listeners are reacting. They are too worried about what they are going to say next. This is commonly referred to as waiting to respond. I’m sure you can remember a conversation like this. It happens a lot in heated discussions or debates about important topics. One person isn’t really listening to the other; they are crafting the next thing they are going to say. Or in a sales call, the person is so nervous that, rather than listening, they are worrying more than paying attention.

So after you’ve asked your deep question, “Do you love your job?” prove it! By repeating back what you heard, in your own words. Then—and this is the step most people forget—ask if you got it right!

Here’s an example:

My question: So how are things over in your department this year? Do you really love working there?

His response: “Yeah, I really do enjoy working here. I’ve been here for almost 10 years now, and I love the work and the people I get to do it with. But just like any job, it’s got its good days and bad days.”

My response: “That’s really great. Sounds like you wouldn’t have stayed there for 10 years if you didn’t enjoy the job or your coworkers. It’s really nice when you find a fit and like the people you spend so much time with. And hell, even the occasional bad day gives perspective to the good ones, am I right?”

Tip Three: Engage in Reciprocal Authenticity

Think about the last two words in that statement. Reciprocal—felt or done in return or response to something. And authentic or genuine. You want to say something genuine and real in response to the thing that was said to you. To close more sales, reciprocity is deeply rooted in our human nature. It represents our innate inclination to respond to gestures of goodwill with equal or greater positive actions. This isn’t just a sense of obligation, but rather a mutual recognition that promotes a continuous loop of goodwill.

Every conversation contains a series of small experiments: I tell a joke to see if you laugh along. My prospect shares a story to see if we have something in common. Each time, we expose something authentic, and potentially vulnerable, about ourselves. “What if they don’t laugh?” or “What if they don’t get it?”

The human brain is fine-tuned to pay attention to vulnerability. It’s one of our loudest emotions. We’re hardwired to notice it. But when someone exposes authenticity, and we don’t respond in kind, a conversation or even a sales call will feel one-sided. The other person might feel judged or unappreciated.

This is why it’s so important to engage in reciprocal authenticity. When my prospect says something real, “I went to my son’s soccer game this weekend, and I had a really great time,” reply with something similarly authentic, “Wow, I can’t wait for my daughter to play soccer next year—but I’m a little sad they’re growing up so fast.”

My response is both reciprocal and genuine. It’s reciprocal because it was in response to the statement they made, it’s on the same subject—children’s soccer games, and it’s both true and important to me. This is how meaningful connections come from sharing the authentic parts of ourselves and inevitably lead to your ability to close more sales.

And I get asked this a lot: What if I don’t have kids? Should I make something up? No! That’s reciprocity without being genuine. To close more sales you need to share your real feelings. Maybe you want kids but aren’t at that stage of life. Share that. “That’s great, my wife and I don’t have children yet, but I’m really looking forward to that next step in life.” Or maybe, you are much younger and single. Your response might be, “Wow, I remember when I was that age. I loved looking up at the stands to see my parents watching me play soccer. It still brings back great memories.”

It’s not important that you agree with exactly what was said. It’s important that you reciprocate on the same topic or subject and that it’s true for you.

Conclusion – Master Harvard’s 3 Steps to Close More Sales

Next time you prepare your sales questions, include ones that aim at the other person’s feelings, values, or experiences. Standard questions like “How is the onboarding process handled for a new vendor?” or “How does your department approve rates for shipments?” are necessary, but they don’t build trust or rapport. In logistics, as in any industry, people prefer to do business with those they know, like, and trust. If you can’t connect on a personal level to close more sales, business isn’t likely to follow.

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