Skip to content

Tom Nakata: Easy to sell in tough times?

“Thank you, I already have it”, “Please call me later”, “I have to think about it” – these are just some of the formulas with which we say goodbye to telemarketers. Why are we doing this? Because we don’t like them! They call at the wrong time, they want to squeeze something, and they create pressure that is difficult to escape from. Does it have to be this way? Tom Nakata, co-owner of the Nakata Training and Advisory Consortium, responsible for the sales area in the company, told me about how to sell in difficult times, why failures are good and how to deal with rejection.

Working in sales is not easy! It is worth considering the techniques and methods to optimize it, even if you do not enrich your company’s sales team on a daily basis. Why? Because (more or less consciously) you negotiate and sell every day. These activities may relate to the performance of official duties – for example, negotiations related to the date of project delivery or delegating tasks to a teammate. Privately, it is even convincing my wife to go to the mountains, not to the ocean! Sale is also, for example, presenting your opportunities to a potential employer. As you can see – sales are everywhere. Selling is life. So how do you handle it properly? See details.

About the importance of the needs in the case of sales …

… or to be more precise – their proper classification at the client’s. Thanks to this, we can tune in to the conversation and present the advantages of the product or service in such a way that they respond to the expectations of a specific person. As a result, the chances of a mutually satisfactory sale increase.

– Today it is impossible to squeeze something – colloquially speaking -. The customer is aware and modern, sales have changed. It’s not enough to wind up the pasta around your ears. The trick is not to sell, but to make the customer want to buy the item himself, regardless of what is being sold – explains Tom Nakata from Projekt Nakata.

Each of us feels all of the 4 basic needs listed, but always one or two of them are the most important, which is crucial when presenting the offer properly. The role of a good seller is to properly diagnose them and present the customer with a product or service for which he will be ready to pay for himself – without tugging the rope and fighting arguments.

The seller vs the basic needs of the buyer Sales – 4 basic customer needs

During the conversation, the seller should be fluent in words and non-verbal messages. What is important, however, is not only what he says, but also… what. Let’s follow what the client wants to hear, depending on the needs.

1. Need for security

If the buyer asks a lot of questions, he expects you to reassure you that this option does not involve any risk and reassure you that all information will be sent to the email – you already know who you are dealing with!

A person for whom a sense of security is absolutely the most important will be very resistant when it comes to deciding on new, innovative solutions. He prefers to stick to well-known and proven patterns. She is also conservative in making decisions that will precede gathering opinions to confirm that she is doing the right thing.

The basis of these behaviors is the paralyzing fear of failure, which is treated in a much worse category than loss of profit. In order to minimize the risk, each operation will be strictly planned and its details confirmed, preferably in writing.

You will surely read and hear a lot about feelings, and in fact about fears!

Pros of this business relationship? If you meet the expectations, you gain trust, and you reassure the client during the decision-making process – you can count on some kind of attachment. This buyer does not like change, so if you do not disappoint him – he will be happy to use the services offered or good products again.

>> Sales funnel – what is it? Definition and Example <<

2. Need for comfort

If you want to collaborate or buy, you have to sell the customer, not the product or service, but the comfort. This may be, for example, taking some responsibilities off him or proposing solutions that will allow him to achieve more in a short time, with less expenditure, and more conveniently.

How to recognize a customer for whom comfort is the most important thing? He will not expect frequent contact and flowery conversations. At the outset, it is enough to determine what obligations are on your side (your company’s side) and from time to time briefly report the implementation of the plan.

Changes? New tools? As with a client with a need to feel safe, they will be handled reluctantly.

A comfortable customer will be happy to pay for peace of mind, delegating tasks and the opportunity to deal with matters that are important and interesting for him. Forget sending long e-mails – they won’t read them anyway.

3. The need for prestige

During the conversation, do you learn about the greatest achievements of the client and his company quite quickly? The main message is “me, me… me” ?! Oh – everything is clear. In addition, the interlocutor will ask if he can count on exceptional service, a special offer and a whole team of professionals who will take care of his case.

You have no achievements confirmed by certificates? Don’t you offer the latest tools and technologies or premium products? You may find it hard to push your elbows out! An individual meeting, during which topics not related to business and the transaction itself, will also be discussed in a better light.

4. The need for profit

Only now do you have to get ready for challenging verbal and communicative acrobatics! Main topic? Of course – money! Preferably small, for which the buyer will receive a lot. Or – on the contrary – huge, easily, lightly and pleasantly obtained. Every dollar counts here – literally. For this reason, the customer will be meticulous and very analytical when viewing the offer. You will also not escape the questions of whether you can do more, longer, better, of course at the same or lower price!

Submit simple reports, don’t expect a strong relationship, split the promises by half, and always try to submit your offer so that the buyer comes out of the deal as winners. Even if they don’t get a discount. After all, if he now pays more than his assumptions, but in a wider perspective thanks to it he saves or earns more – this is cost optimization.

Why is the role of the seller in sales crucial?

– What is most important when talking about selling is the role of the seller and how he or she leads the conversation. We have different clients, which is why it is so important to correctly segment and recognize their needs. For example, if the buyer has a need for comfort, and we can establish this on a behavioral level, we sense that it is important to him, we will show him the benefits that he likes. We will explain to him that he will now buy a more expensive service, but he will not have to upgrade it in a moment or decide on this solution, he will not have to deal with anything himself, because, for example, someone will provide him with something or he will have super care. The customer is willing to pay for having his needs met. This is the case in finance, in the automotive, manufacturing, consulting and pharmaceutical industries, when we consider insurance or real estate – the same mechanism works everywhere – explains Tom Nakata.

A short story about a price that is not an objection …

Regardless of what product you propose to the client, do you always hear “too expensive”? Maybe you get such a message even without specifying the price? This is because it is not a real objection.

– Price is the feeling of whether we spend a lot on something or rationally. Whether we can realistically afford it. […] To know what amounts we operate on, it is good to ask directly what is your SAFE budget that you are able to spend on it. When we use the word “safe”, we know that the client will not enter the maximum amount, so we still have some room for maneuver, explains Nakata.

This knowledge is doubly valuable in sales when we want to apply the up-selling or cross-selling technique.

Remember! The golden rule of selling is: don’t answer unanswered questions. The one who inquires and collects information wins, not the one who provides it. By using this method, you will be able to manage the conversation and, consequently, the sales process. Ask, let me talk and … listen carefully! And then, on the basis of messages from the client, flexibly adapt to the expectations of the interlocutor.

Don’t look into anyone’s wallet …

It is no different in the case of the price. “Don’t look into your wallet” – that is, don’t assume how much the buyer can spend. Sometimes in the world you can simply make a mistake in your assessment and “lose the sale”.

– If we anchor the price [we determine in advance how much a given product or service costs], customers become attached to it and talk about it, but then they return home and come to the conclusion that it is not their world. The key is to diagnose whether the reluctance to spend money is due to a specific budget, a psychological block, or maybe it is just a way of life, explains Tom Nakata.

When “too expensive” is a way of life …

How to deal with a client who always, regardless of the amount of the transaction, decides that “he cannot afford it”? Here we come back to the statement that the skillful use of persuasion techniques will be worth its weight in gold.

– You can still discuss with this way of life. If we show real benefits, and the client is rational and intelligent, he will understand that by spending more today, he can save or gain in the long run, and that it will be good for him. On the other hand, if he has absolutely defined possibilities and abilities, because he buys over the limit anyway, then there is certainly little chance of, for example, an increased package, so let’s give up trying to upselling. Otherwise, we can scare the customer away and then he will not even buy the basic option – sums up Tom Nakata.

The customer runs away and the seller is chasing! Does the sale have to look like this?

Sometimes the sale is like playing “cat and mouse”. Even if the potential buyer comes alone and asks for specific solutions, he does not want to feel forced to buy.

On the other hand, the seller, who is based on a commission system and set targets, feels the pressure that the potential client should not remain just a prospect. And then the stairs begin.

>> Conversion – what is it and how to increase its ratio? <<

Interesting offer, but I will think about it yet …

Or … “I need to talk to my wife!” We can hope that the client will actually come back to us, but this hope will not feed us. Simply put, such a message is a typical farewell formula, symbolizing the slightly tearful waving of a handkerchief. If the entire sales process has not been conducted properly from the very beginning, there are no magic tricks to close the deal.

– If an American customer doesn’t want to buy something, he says he has to think about it. Then he thinks, but he doesn’t answer the phone from the salesperson anymore. The truth is, the client said, “I don’t want to buy from you.” It is also information that we have incorrectly told about the product, we have misdiagnosed the customer’s profile or values, not to mention the basic needs. You can try to sell again, tell about the details of the offer again and then assess whether the customer is listening. If not – the topic is dead. Better to mourn quickly and use energy for others who are potentially interested in the offer, explains Nakata’s sales director.

How does the “quick mourning after death” of a promising transaction look like in practice?

The art of dealing with “no”

– We have more failures than successes in our sales structures. […] It is not pleasant, but you have to realize that this is the role I play. If we are talking about 30% successes, we have more than double the number of failures. But these successes give us bread, joy and passion to continue helping people. And that’s great!

Math-based work helps you deal with rejection. For example, with a good methodology from 10 phone calls, I have 5 meetings, of which maybe 2-3 real clients. You just have to accept that it is and learn to live with it. Even Nakata, as a consulting and training company, is at the forefront, but that doesn’t mean we sell our services to everyone. It is natural that not everyone will buy from us. […] We have to assume that we will not always hit or – humanly speaking – someone will do it better than us. That’s just the way it is, explains Tom Nakata.

Good to know… If you want to avoid the client “running away” into the phrase “I have to talk it over with my wife, aunt, mother-in-law or uncle”, ask directly when arranging a meeting whether other decision makers or interested in the process should participate.

Selling: Turning Failures into Successes

How does it look in practice? What software do you need to upload to make it possible?

– Failures are a plus if we focus on drawing conclusions and self-improvement. This is a success. […] Each failure teaches. If we work for 20 years in sales and we do not change anything, it is as if we worked for half a year. If someone works for 2 years and draws conclusions after each conversation, wonders what he did wrong, is critical of himself, has such an internal hangman, then this failure gives strength. We learn more from failures than from successes, explains the sales director of Projekt Nakata.

Sales without pressure

The best seller is said to be a hungry seller. The only question is how to deal with the pressure to sell – your own or your superiors – and break the chain so as not to translate it into customers. There is nothing worse than the feeling that the salesperson is pressing you against the wall and forcing you to close the transaction. Then we naturally want to run away!

Pressure is needed in sales, but for sensible and well-thought-out activities. The more topics we open, we make cold calls, contact points with the customer, this translates directly or indirectly into the sales result. And here there should be managerial and organizational pressure for the sales structures to perform actions, points of contact that build the foundation of trust with the customer, and make them accustomed to the brand and product. But it cannot be on the client in a given conversation. […] The task of an experienced salesperson is to translate this pressure into activities and tasks, but not to transfer it further to the customer – emphasizes Nakata.

Very often, however, the pressure on activities is confused with the pressure to close a transaction. At any cost, even at the cost of… losing a client. Where is the problem? As they say, “the fish rots from the head”.

An efficiently operating sales director or president know that managing sensible activities and monitoring their effects is good. If we know that, for example, webinars for clients bring results, fairs or cold calls, it is worth just going into it and taking these actions. Wisely and with your head, because the devil is in the details. And then it works. […] It is known that sellers have a sales plan, but if the customer is well served, gets the right, appropriately selected solutions, he will be satisfied, will come back to us and recommend us! You can really do it in such a way that the wolf is full and the sheep are whole, such a win-win book. You just need to conduct the conversation very well. […] Bring it to a situation, create such an aura that the client asks us to sell him a good or a service.

In addition to the proper understanding of needs, finesse and intuition will also be useful. How to stay motivated to perfectly juggle them?

Concentration on activities and motivation in sales

Although each transaction is different, it consists of repetitive activities that must be performed in order to achieve the sales goal. Every day, week, month – phone calls, making contracts, meetings, working with objections … How not to lose motivation for this Sisyphean work?

Can the solution be implemented in organizations by incentive systems? Maybe quite the opposite – it is a completely wrong solution that motivates only a few, usually the same team members, prone to competition? The expectations for hanging above the reward bar will continue to grow. However, is it directly proportional to the sales bars?

Often times, corporate executives believe that people need motivation to recharge. This is not a good direction. We wind up quickly, and then the emotions subside. If we create appropriate habits, a sales routine, and above all, calm, analytical pursuit of a goal, we will become aware that if it is good it will be bad, and vice versa – if it is bad then good times will come. When the market situation is difficult, the weak ones drop off, and those who stay reap the harvest. Paradoxically, bad times have more advantages than good times, concludes Nakata.

Pros of bad times …

You don’t have to be an outstanding analyst to know that “bad beginnings” are at the threshold of everyday life. As a result of the pandemic and the geopolitical situation, the market is changing dynamically, and the greatest challenges are still ahead of us. Specialists predict declines in industry, production, services, development and automotive. How to prepare for hard times to reap the harvest we mentioned earlier?

– If there is a good and easy market, then there is progress and everyone wins. I have worked twice in industries that have been on an upward wave. And there is a law of economics which says if it is good it will be bad. And so it happened. The important thing was that when I was successful, I felt that it was not only my merit and that is why I need to improve. I recommended the same to my employees. There were also those who ascribed their victories only to themselves, not to the market and mathematics. And that was the trouble. Now, when the times are more difficult, it will be a question of who is good and who is not. Difficult situations teach and develop. The best people in the sales structure are those who started out in heavy markets or in heavy industries. Those who started out with easy topics haven’t learned to deal with failures, which is more important than selling the wave. Anyone can sell well when going well. The question is who will be able to handle it both in terms of leadership and trade in these difficult times, when there will be challenges and resistance on the market.

There is nothing else to do but to break the pattern and according to the above guidelines, wish yourself and your recipients failures, work in difficult industries and clients who need to think twice! Good luck!

Published inInterviewSentence ChangerWord Changer