If you’ve not heard of shadow selling as an answer to how to sell indirectly, you might already be doing it without even knowing that you’re doing it. So what is shadow selling? In a nutshell, it is telling somebody what you genuinely think about them and the actions that they need to take without telling them directly – which sounds more complicated than it is.
The concept of shadow selling came about when i didn’t know how to tell somebody what I thought – so for instance, if I thought somebody was lazy or I thought they were making excuses.Previously I didn’t have the confidence to tell them that for whatever reason. I didn’t like confrontation. They might have been a friend or a family member and I didn’t feel like I could just say to them ‘hey, stop making excuses the bottom line is you’re just lazy and you don’t want it as much as you say you do, you’re a talker and you’re not a doer’.
So, what I would do is once I realised the personality type of that person, I would pick somebody else that I knew that’s a similar personality type and I would explain to the person that’s sitting in front of me the conversation I had with the other person.
I would say ‘hey look I actually had a client the other week his name was John he was – god he was lazy – he said to me I don’t have time for this, I work 38 to 40 hours a week (he doesn’t) and then I have to get home and I have to cook and I have to spend time with the kids and then I want to play football on a Tuesday, so by the time I get to the weekend I just don’t want to do anything I just want to relax. But he was moaning that he wasn’t making any money, he was moaning that he wasn’t successful.’
The message for the person that’s sitting in front of me is that if you now give me any of those excuses, you’re exactly the same as John!
That is shadow selling, or a penny drop moment to give it another name. The most important thing about penny drop moments is allowing the penny to drop for your customer themselves. Don’t throw the penny at them, just let it drop. So all of a sudden they’re there and halfway through the conversation they’re gonna realise that they are like John and they need to stop making excuses.
This method can be a great way to become comfortable telling somebody what they need to hear initially until you build up the confidence, the credibility, and the right to tell them and offer that advice. Or you might just prefer to sell indirectly, in which case shadow selling works really really well, especially in a sales environment. Sometimes, it can even be good to throw a shadow sale into a conversation with a customer who just needs that extra push, but you don’t want to seem to be pushing too hard.
Shadow selling can be a great asset to your sales career, and is definitely something you should have in your arsenal. For other methods featured in the SWISH academy, read about our sales training, sales coaching, and sales courses. No matter if you are located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast or anywhere in Australia we are able to assist in providing the most innovative ethical sales training.
Written by Ryan Tuckwood