10 Pattern Interrupts to Boost Your Sales
There’s some guy you might have heard of by the name of Albert Einstein. Mr. Einstein once remarked, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well in that case, you, me, and everyone we know may very well be a little insane. This is due to the fact that, according to the National Science Foundation, humans average about fifty thousand thoughts per day and ninety five percent of those thoughts are the same exact thoughts that repeat every day. It’s time to break the insanity and implement some pattern interrupts into your sales career.
Never heard of a pattern interrupt? Don’t be intimidated. It’s simply a technique that changes a particular thought, behavior, or situation. The concept originates from behavioral psychology and neurolinguistic programming. Not an NLP practitioner or Sigmund Freud-wannabe psychologist? No problem. Anyone can utilize pattern interrupts to boost their sales. And today, that person is you. Don’t be confused by the concept. A pattern interrupt can be as simple as initiating a handshake to a client or as out-of-the-ordinary as traveling to Switzerland to go hiking in the Alps.
If you work in sales, you know all about the nuisance of encountering resistance from prospects day-after-day. It’s frustrating. That’s why you (or your sales team) needs to be proactive and utilize these ten pattern interrupt techniques immediately in order to get more sales and put more revenue in your pocket.
If you believe there’s even a 2% chance that you’ve caught your prospect at a bad time over the phone—for example, if you hear others talking loudly in the background or hear the roaring sounds of traffic—be upfront about it. Ask the prospect, “Sounds like I caught you at a bad time? Can I call you back later today?” This will take your prospect aback by showing that you’re more caring and conscientious than other salespeople.
Let your prospect know that “it’s okay to say ‘no’ if we don’t have a fit.” This will catch the prospect off-guard, as prospects are used to salespeople begging for the sale like a family dog eying a juicy steak on top of the dinner table. Honesty goes a long way in building rapport and the prospect will be flattered you displayed it; however, don’t be trigger-happy with this pattern interrupt. Only use it as a last resort if a sale seems unlikely. You might be surprised just how often this interrupt keeps the conversation going rather than bringing it to a halt.
Don’t act like a robot and try to close based on every single buying signal you get. Prospects can see right through you when you stick to the script. That’s a major turn-off. Instead, implement an easy exit or takeaway to get the prospect to subconsciously sell himself or herself on the product. For example, say, “Wow, I didn’t know this impacted your company so drastically. Would you mind telling me a little more about that?” By answering a question such as this, the prospect will subconsciously realize he/she is in need of your product. This will also build rapport by, once again, showing that you care.
Even if you’re not confused during the attempted sale, it’s okay to occasionally act confused—mainly if you believe conveying confusion or concern towards the prospect will (1) make you seem caring or (2) allow you to acquire useful information that you can utilize immediately or in the future. For example, say, “I’m a little confused, would you mind helping me understand why this issue is so important to your company?” Then you can log the answer in your CRM notes, if it’s important enough.
Are you beginning to notice a pattern? These pattern interrupts are almost perfect for building good rapport. And you can’t have a solid relationship with your prospects without good rapport.
Calling all geeks: remember in Return of the Jedi when Han Solo advises Chewbacca to “fly casual” while staring down an incoming fleet of dangerous imperial ships? Well, channel your inner-Han Solo and switch it up by talking in a casual manner with a prospect. For example, when some of your prospects (that you already have a good relationship with) call you, just say, “Hey, what’s up?” when they answer. Be selective with who you choose to be casual with—but doing so with the right personality type will reward you with great rapport and trust. You see, many average salespeople often sound like they have sticks in their rear ends. You’re better than them and you can demonstrate that by proving to the prospect that you’re a human like they are. That beats being a zombie reading off of a script one hundred out of one hundred times.
When your prospect asks a question, begin to answer it, but then stop right in the middle of your answer and ask the prospect a question. You see, active listening is a vital step to ensure that you’l eventually get a sale. Keep the ball in the prospect’s court. Most prospects like the attention and enjoy talking about themselves. Just be sure it’s obvious that you’re listening closely to what the person says. Few things will end a sale faster than ignoring what the prospect has to say.
Break your prospect’s expectations of what a sales call is by asking something out of the ordinary such as, “Hey Tim, is it raining there?” or “Are you a Patriots fan? I saw that they won last night.” Once again, you will build rapport, influence, and stand out from all the measly, boring salespeople in this world. Just make sure you sound authentic and are genuinely curious in the prospect’s response.
No, don’t go out and buy your prospect’s clothes or lease the same car that he/she drives. Simply just flip the script and reverse the situation by telling the prospect that you want to buy what they are selling but you can’t at this time because they (or their company) are lacking a crucial element. Not only will the prospect be flattered that you’ve shown tremendous interest in their product or company, but the prospect will hopefully realize that your product is needed to enhance their product—and if they don’t realize that, then work your sales magic and make it very clear that your prospect needs your help.
Okay, be extra careful with this one. Don’t just randomly yell out quotes from Scarface during a cold call; however, say for instance that you have a client who curses like a sailor every time you talk to him or her, you can utilize some personality mirroring and throw out a few curse words of your own—but only when you know for certain that the profanity won’t offend the prospect. Cursing will boost the conversation because it establishes familiarity and builds trust with the prospect. Rapport and influence will quickly be built due to the prospect realizing that you’re not much different than he/she is. But always be yourself. If you never use curse words with your friends and family, then don’t start using them over the phone with Dave from Nebraska. The last thing you want is to seem inauthentic, like Steve Carell’s character from The Forty-Year-Old Virgin, when he fails to relate to his co-workers during a game of poker.
Yes, you work in sales; therefore, no one in their right mind is expecting you to be the next Jerry Seinfeld or Chris Rock. But that doesn’t mean you have to hide the humorous or playful aspects of your personality from your prospects. Let them see your playful side, as long as it’s in good taste. For example, a great way to give your almost-impossible-to-reach prospect a little humor would be to leave a funny voicemail saying they’ve won your annual Most Hard to Reach Prospect Award. Almost everyone in the world loves breaking the monotony of their day with a little humor or silliness. Keep some laughs in your sales arsenal and you’ll soon be rewarded with excellent rapport.
There are many instances in life in which it’s perfectly fine for you to be on auto-pilot, such as driving your car to work or ordering a burrito at Chipotle; however, sales is not one of them. Think about it. You have too much at stake, day-after-day. You need leads. You need prospects. You need good rapport. You need trust. You need influence. You need sales. And most important, you need some cold hard cash in your pocket. So go out of your comfort zone and spice up a boring day with some pattern interrupts. Not only will your day get more interesting, you’ll get more revenue. You deserve it.
Turning my back on insanity, I recently embraced a pattern interrupt. One whole delicious month of travel overseas. Of course pattern interrupts don’t have to be saved for just holidays. Taking a week, a day or even an afternoon can still be of immense benefit.
Here are five truths about pattern interrupts and why, if you haven’t taken one recently, it might be just what you need.
Truth #1 A Fresh Perspective
A pattern interrupt transports you to enticing new places, physically and mentally. It jolts you out of your familiar thoughts and routines and into a vast openness of possibility. It’s like seeing things for the first time again.
Truth #2 Trust in the Future
Scheduling in a break for a walk or a yoga class is great for an hour but let’s face it, you’re still in your safe zone. You know what’s next. A pattern interrupt involves some risk, bravery and one hundred per cent commitment, even when you don’t know what’s next.
Truth #3 Relinquish Control
An interruption to our schedule can be an inconvenience, don’t you think? All sorts of ‘What if’s?’ pop into our head. It’s so tempting to avoid these feelings and not rock the boat. Managing that challenge requires letting go and accepting we can’t control situations and outcomes all of the time.
Truth #4 Growth and Expansion
The big one. Where there is life, there is growth. But how much growth can really happen when we are on rinse and repeat, day after day? When we are programmed to perform we do what’s expected of us. Spread your wings and give yourself some space to grow. Imagine where that could take you.
Truth #5 Creativity Thrives
It’s a bit like the inspirational ideas that can often pop into our head in the shower, in the car or just before we fall asleep. Only magnified. Creativity is not on a schedule. It often appears when we least expect it. Sitting in silence, admiring a view, getting lost in a new city, savoring a great meal, lost in conversation, anytime anywhere.
Are you ready for a pattern interrupt? Start small, today. Go digital free and spark your energy, set your imagination alight, discover a new kind of silence or simply rest. You will receive what you need to, in ways that simply are not possible by following the same routines each day.
What are some things that you can do to interrupt your own state?
Humor and laughter are great pattern stoppers. Choosing to see the funny side.
Going for a walk or taking time out when stressed or angry.
Going a different way to work.
Taking a week off from a usual activity such as watching TV.
“Sleeping on it” for a creative solution, rather than plodding on.
Two drills for you to explore
Drill 1 – Interrupt your own pattern
Choose a behavior you’d like to change that you normally perform automatically, without thinking.
Observe how the pattern runs, what is its route.
Create a pattern interrupt that has nothing to do with the behavior. If you bite your nails, the pattern interrupt might be to jump up and down, or rub your nose intensely. If you eat every time you watch TV, the pattern interrupt might be to think of cow poop every time you open the fridge. Come up with a pattern interrupt that will jolt you like a tree falling in front of your car.
When you notice the pattern running, use your pattern interrupt repeatedly.
Observe what happens to the pattern.
Drill 2 – Interrupt someone else’s pattern
Observe someone who has a habitual pattern that you’d like to play with.
Create a neat pattern interrupt. For instance, if your mother or wife eats butter every morning, without thinking about it, use blue food coloring to change the butter’s color. If your child has been curious about playing with electrical outlets, have some balloons ready at hand; pop them anytime (s)he approaches an outlet.
Observe what happens to the pattern.
How to Use as a Leader
While the examples above are for ourselves, we can use this idea to help others too. Here are three ideas.
Three Coins. If you want to practice a new behavior with your team (e.g. giving more positive feedback, smiling, asking more questions), place three coins in your pocket at the start of the day. When you exhibit your desired behavior, move one coin to a different pocket, and make it your goal to move all three during the day. You will consciously notice the coins, which is a reminder and a pattern interrupt to practice the behavior that isn’t yet a habit.
The Rabbit. Have you ever been in meetings that get sidetracked by tangents? If this is a habit you want your team to change, buy a small stuffed rabbit (it could really be anything), and explain that whenever someone notices the conversation going down a “rabbit trail,” that they ask for the rabbit to wave to the group. The minute someone asks for the rabbit, the whole group gets a chance to stop and change direction.
Let the Them Choose. Teach the members of your team, or your whole team about the pattern interrupt (or have them read this article). Then let them use their creativity to identify what habits they might want to change, and what pattern interrupt they might create to help them do it.
The pattern interrupt is a simple tool that can create powerful results. Where will you start?
Try a Pattern Interrupt for Better Sales Results
Monday Morning Sales Coach
Problem: Kim, a ten-year sales veteran, never felt like she was in control of her sales calls. She felt like her prospects and customers were always one step ahead of her. She attended many training sessions and they all basically taught her the same thing: always ask for the order, use the same 2-3 foolproof ways to overcome the price objection, lead with, “If I could show you a way to fix that problem, would you buy my product?” She felt these tactics must be effective since many of the trainers taught the same approaches. Why weren’t they working for her?
Analysis: Salespeople tend to be rather predictable and, as a result, buyers generally are in charge. They recognize the salesperson’s approaches and have developed effective ways to deal with those approaches. To illustrate this point, have you ever been doing something on “autopilot” such as driving a car? You get too close to the car in front and you apply the brakes. In a dangerous situation you honk the horn to warn another driver. Neither activity requires you to stop and think. You’re definitely not saying to yourself, “What should I do here? Oh yeah, let’s honk the horn. That’s a good idea.” By then it’s too late anyway. You just do it. That’s autopilot. That’s how we react instinctively to a situation. Dealing with salespeople is a familiar situation to everyone and we all go on autopilot when we’re face to face with a salesperson. In effect, salespeople build their own roadblocks by being so predictable.
Prescription: Don’t act like the typical salesperson. Do the unexpected. Try a “pattern interrupt” and keep your prospect off autopilot. Here are a few examples:
Ask, “Sounds like I caught you at a bad time?” when you connect by phone.
Let your prospect know, “It’s okay to say ‘no’ if we don’t have a fit.”
Don’t jump on every “buying signal” you hear and try to close. Instead, use a well-placed easy exit or takeaway to get the prospect to sell himself. “Really, I had no idea the impact was that significant. Can you tell me a little more about that?”
Do your best Colombo routine, “I’m kind of confused, can you help me understand why that’s so important to the company?”
You get the idea. Be different. Your sales results will be different, too. They’ll be better.