By Jacques Werth and Carl Ingalls of High Probability Selling
To find market demand, you need to reach out to people who want what you are selling. Your sales team needs an efficient process for finding and connecting with prospects individually, by phone. Here are seven steps for highly-effective sales.
Call the right people
Get a list from a reputable list broker of people who are likely to need your product. Start with the demographics of your current customers, or with those of your competitors. Check all the different demographics that the list broker can sort for and select those most pertinent to your business.
Focus only on the decision makers, the people who have the authority to buy.
Call each person on your list. Ask to speak with that person. If you get a gatekeeper, ask for help. Don’t attempt to “get around” the gatekeeper. Some can and will influence the decision maker. Treat everyone with respect.
Have the right attitude
Be direct, open, and transparent. Be clear and obvious about your purpose.
Be a seeker. Be the prospector looking for gold, not the alchemist who desperately tries to turn everything into gold. Look in likely places, and move on when they don’t pan out.
Respect the fact that the buying decision is up to the prospect, not up to you. Think of how you feel when a salesperson tries to make your purchase decision for you, and especially when you know that you are the one who has to deal with the outcome.
Begin your conversation by immediately getting down to business. Don’t begin with,”Hi, how are you?” That sends the wrong signal. People who want to do business aren’t looking for a new friend.
Say the right things
Identify yourself and your company. Describe your product as concisely as possible. Ask if this is something they want. Say all of this in 45 words or less, preferably less. (If you’re still talking after 45 words, your prospect has probably stopped listening.)
Avoid saying anything designed to persuade, convince, or influence. You’re looking for someone who already wants what you’re selling. Anything you say that is meant to influence them will create sales resistance.
How you say these things matters just as much as what you say. Pay careful attention to your clarity, tone, and timing.
Ask the right question
The question is simple: “Is this something you want?” It doesn’t ask the prospect to decide if they will buy from you. It asks them to tell you whether they want your specific type of product or service, or not.
This question will identify the prospects who have real buying intent, as opposed to those who are merely interested.
Do not ask, “Is this something you might want?” It’s too tentative. You’re not looking for a maybe, and neither is a real buyer.
Listen and respect the answer
Only after the prospect says a definite “Yes” should you spend any time talking with them.
You need to be prepared to take “No” for an answer, and to respect that answer. Don’t try to turn it into “Yes.” Don’t even attempt to discuss it.
If the prospect says “No,” simply accept it and courteously end the call. Don’t let any disappointment or frustration color your tone of voice or manner. Always be respectful and professional. This will significantly improve your chances that the same person will say “Yes” on a future call.
If the prospect says “Maybe,” you can tell them that you are looking for people who definitely want what you are selling right now. Politely end the call and do not spend any time talking with them.
If the prospect asks a specific question about your product or service that can be answered simply and directly, then answer the question. Then restate your offer and ask again if this is something they want.
Never hesitate to answer a question about price. Answering with a wide price range often works best, i.e.: “It will cost between $10,000 and $20,000, depending upon your specific requirements.”
If the prospect is merely interested or asks for general information, verify that you have their correct email address and send them the appropriate email brochure. Then end the call politely and move on.
If the prospect asks you not to call them again, make sure you comply completely. No mistakes. Keep your own “do not call” list, and never call that person again. (There may be other decision makers in the same company you should be calling; find them.)
If people seem confused about what you’re saying and don’t understand the question, then your prospecting offer may be too vague. This can also happen if you attempt to sell the benefits of your product, rather than clearly stating what it is.
Move on and keep records
After each call, record the results and move on to the next person on your list as quickly as possible. Be persistently disciplined. Set a goal for how often you are going to prospect, and for how long.
Keep a log of how much time you spend prospecting, who you called, what offer you gave them, and what was the result. There is software to manage these details for you, but doing it manually for a while is a good way to develop a clear picture of what’s happening. Tracking results is the best way to improve your methods.
Call your list again and again
Each individual should hear from you every 3 to 4 weeks. Vary your prospecting offers so that you don’t repeat yourself. It’s best to have a cycle of at least five different prospecting offers, so prospects can hear all of them before the prospect hears the first one again.
Being able to take “No” for an answer, respecting your prospect’s time, and not being repetitive are the things that will allow you to call again and again. This creates favorable “front-of-mind” awareness, so that when the prospect does want what you’re selling, they will likely think of you, and respond positively to your next call.
If you follow the steps in this article, you’ll have a much higher probability of contacting prospects when their time is right. Prospects buy in their own time.
Jacques Werth is the president of High Probability Selling, Inc. a sales training and consulting company that specializes in designing a customized sales process for each client company. Carl Ingalls is an engineering consultant who is using the communications principles behind High Probability Selling when advising his clients. Website: www.HighProbSell.com Blog: www.HighProbabilitySelling.com