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Many sales professionals begin a conversation with a prospective client without ever thinking about their outcome or the meaning they want someone to attach to the experience. They dive right into the conversation they want to have and leave the rest to change. That strategy is costing them precious sales!
The top 1% of sales professionals leave nothing to chance; they proactively create the experience that supports their outcome. One technique they use is called framing, which consists of three types of framing: Preframing, Reframing, and Deframing.
Framing is the art of shaping the meaning of a situation, conversation, behavior, thought, word, or phrase. It is intentionally deciding what the situation in front of you is going to mean to you.
Whether you realize it or not, every experience you have in life is given a meaning according to the way you perceive it through the emotions you felt and the beliefs you developed around that experience. Framing allows you to take an empowered stance to help shift your own focus and belief to get into the right frame of mind.
Preframing is a very powerful tool that allows you to let someone know in advance what is going to happen and what they should make it mean. When you preframe, you create alignment by proactively painting the picture of what others can expect to happen through sharing your own outcomes, directing their focus, and mentioning the obvious.
Think of preframing like the Introduction of a book – you are setting the scene for others to know what they’re going to experience because you already know the outcome. By letting people know in advance what to look for in your message, you are paving the way for your message to be well received.
Two people who experience the same event will often come away with two very different meanings about what happened. People decide what something means to them based on their individual past experiences and their general life attitudes, and people will always find what they want to find. For many people, when they are faced with something new or something that makes them feel uncertain or uncomfortable, their initial reaction will be to reject whatever has triggered that feeling. A well-done preframe can eliminate potential doubts, objections, hesitations, or disagreements. With a preframe, you are giving yourself the advantage of handling challenges while they are small or even non-existent.
Example: One of my sales people sold a product below the approved pricing and I had to talk to him about it. I preframed the conversation this way: “You are a very skilled salesperson, and I appreciate how hard you work to make your quota. I consider you one of our best reps. Having said that, you still have to follow finance’s guidelines.”
Reframing is the art of taking an event that a person (even yourself) has already attached a meaning to, and making it mean something different. When you reframe, you can take a known event, situation, or circumstance and make it mean something different by presenting it in a brand new way, allowing people to see things in a whole new perspective.
When someone says, “Let me put this another way” or “Here’s another way to look at it,” they are reframing to provide further understanding and clarity. You can also use reframing when your team members start to veer off from your original direction. Saying things like, “Remember what we talked about in the beginning?” is a way to reframe your initial intent.
Example: When I was asked to present a new product to a top client, I felt very rejected and embarrassed when I didn’t close the deal. A few months later, I was asked to present the same product to a new client, and I remember feeling this pit in my stomach, worried it would end up the same way – feeling rejected, embarrassed, and like I failed. After learning about reframing, I can use that experience as an opportunity to learn and become a better salesperson. I can visualize myself knocking it out of the park, creating a win-win situation, rather than reverting back to how I felt the first time.
Reframing is offering another perspective or another way of viewing a situation. Maintaining confidence and rapport is important while reframing. You want to ensure the person you are talking to doesn’t feel as if they are being attacked or as if you are making them “wrong.” You are simply offering a more empowering meaning.
Example: “I understand your hesitation; I know losing the ABC account last year really upset you. And I’ve watched you change your sales style based on that experience. You are not the same sales person who lost that deal. You need to see how much you’ve grown since that time and go get this new account!”
When you defame, you do what’s known as “the takeaway.” As a sales professional, you’re familiar with pitching an idea, product, or service to someone, and you can feel their resistance by noticing their facial expression, body language, and energy. You can address their resistance by removing the object of discussion that’s causing the resistance and taking away the offer by suggesting that it may not be the right fit or the right time for them. Deframing gives people a chance to want what you’re offering even more because you’ve taken it away.
The deframe is a measure of last resort, a somewhat abrupt tactic to shift someone into your way of thinking because you have just done something totally unexpected – you made them an offer, then you took it away. This strategy is not for the faint of heart, and it does not go over well if you are not in total rapport with your team.
Example: “I understand you are feeling hesitant with moving forward. That’s okay; maybe this isn’t the right time for your company to increase sales. You may not have the infrastructure to handle the growth. I will reach out to you in a few months to see if the timing is better.”
Example: “Right now, it doesn’t seem that this business relationship is a mutually beneficial one for us. I think another partner may feel like a better fit for you, and I want you to make the right decision for your business.”
As a sales professional, framing your message is the most important tool you can have in your belt because it gives you the ability to create the meaning around any message you’re communicating. You can help others decide what the situation is going to mean for them and redirect them when they have ventured toward an unexpected or undesirable conclusion.
To learn more about framing and other sales and leadership techniques go to https://www.nasp.com/programs/advance-sales-influence-asi/ and sign up for Advanced Sales Influence today!
About the author
Brooke Dukes is currently supporting NASP as Chief Sales Officer leading strategy and business development. Prior to NASP, Brooke was a multi-million dollar producer and excelled at various executive-level positions in sales and business development, including two Fortune100 companies. She has worked with some of the largest and most successful companies including Lear, General Motors, and United Airlines, and across multiple industries, such as insurance, skincare and cosmetics, technology, and banking.
Brooke has her BS from Michigan State University. She is a mother of two successful children and an avid traveler. Exploring the world and helping people achieve their dreams is her passion. Brooke resides in Austin Tx.