Salespeople work exceptionally hard at prospecting and attempting to qualify the right prospects. This quest for the right client, the time it takes to find them and the stress involved in making that first contact, is the reason why selling can be so difficult for so many.
The attempt to qualify isn’t so bad when a prospect makes the initial contact step and calls you or your company, but it can be really hard work when you’re cold calling or networking.
The fact is it shouldn’t be.
It might just be that too many salespeople are going about the process the wrong way by trying to Qualify prospects before they Discover Interest.
What they are really doing is attempting to have a Sales Conversation when they should be having a Discovery Conversation, as in first discovering whether the prospect has an Interest in their product or service.
How many ‘sales pitches’ have you heard that begin with the following platitudes:
«Hi, how are you today?»
«My name is Jason Smith and I’m with ABC Company.»
«We’re the market leaders in our category.»
«Our service will make you bigger, better, faster and more streamlined. Did I mention more profitable?»
«I’m going to be in your area tomorrow afternoon and was hoping we could meet to discuss our program.»
«What’s better for you, 2pm or 4pm?»
What Jason really did here was not only come across as the stereotypical salesman (does the prospect really believe you care about how they feel today?), but, unwittingly, he portrayed himself as condescending, after all what he really told this prospect was that the prospect’s company was small, poorly managed and unprofitable.
No wonder cold calling and getting appointments is so difficult.
So what should Jason have done differently?
Well just like a good doctor he should have first focused on symptoms as opposed to suggesting solutions. After all, any doctor worth his salt first investigates and diagnoses a physical ailment before he ever discusses prescribing a medicine to solve the problem.
In the same vein what lawyer is going to take on your legal issue without first consulting with you and establishing whether you have a case or lack one?
Promoting, or suggesting solutions too early in the sales process really is putting the cart before the horse.
Part of the problem here is that salespeople stay too focused on «selling» and spend too little time on simply helping. They lack focus because they do not have the discipline of a defined step-by-step sales process.
That step-by-step sales process begins with initiating a conversation, the Contact, which then leads to Building Agreement, with the intent of Discovering (or creating) Interest and, with interest established, Qualifying the prospect prior to Presenting the solutions the product or service might deliver.
Notice there were four steps in the process prior to presenting solutions.
So, how can Jason improve his chances of success?
Here is the same conversation with an office manager presented with a focus on Discovering Interest:
«Good morning Jeannie, I’m Jason Smith with ABC company and I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for us to be talking but I was hoping to get your help on where I should go with this issue and whether you feel I should pursue it any further. Did you have a moment to speak? (If yes proceed, if not move on).
Thank you. Well, in a nutshell, my company develops ____________________ for companies such as yours and I was hoping to eventually speak with your CTO about the software, but before I do I wanted to talk with upper management (such as yourself) to get their feedback on whether they are experiencing the very issues we help solve. If that makes sense to you I was hoping to ask you a couple of questions to see if this software might make sense…..»
What you will find is that your prospects, whether they are receptionists or middle management, will by nature strive to help – if you ask them for it!
So, if you want to be more successful in how you approach future sales sale, stop «selling» in the early stages of the conversation and start focusing on helping your prospect by Discovering Interest first and qualifying after.
Stay tuned, there’s much more to follow on this subject.
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