By Keith Rosen, MCC
The Executive Sales Coach™
You are ready for a spectacular year. The resolution has been made to strengthen your business relationships, attract more customers, and advance your career.
You began reviewing the list of prospects who declined your pitch in the past. Sure, they may have turned you down before, but you know that change occurs throughout the year — in the economy, in technology, and with your prospects’ businesses. If your approach is merely to “touch base” and see if they are in a better position to make a purchasing decision, you have the same “plan” as every other salesperson.
Before reestablishing contact, spend some time evaluating the history of the account. Chances are, there were things you missed during your initial interaction that cost you the sale. Uncovering the areas that you need to strengthen, realigning your thinking, and developing a unique strategy will enable you to generate the results that you seek. Here are a few ideas:
1. Determine why they really didn’t buy.
This is best done immediately after you are turned down, but it’s also a good way to get back in front of someone. The key is to get your prospects to speak with you openly. This can be difficult, since many prospects feel the need to disguise the truth in order to avoid “hurting your feelings.” Instead, they use generic reasoning, citing the price, a desire to remain with the current vender, a lack of available budget, or bad timing.
Uncover the real reason by asking questions about their goals this year and problems they are facing with their current vender, product, or service. This often leads to a conversation about the potential purchase of your product/service that you would never have opened up otherwise. Ask questions such as, What about your current product or service would you like to improve or change? or What solution would my product or service have to offer that would motivate you enough to explore working with us?
2. Do your homework.
It isn’t enough to simply understand the problem and provide a solution. Anticipate your prospect’s future needs. Where do they rank within their respective industries and how does that compare to past years? What changes are expected for their industries? Will the economy or technology have an effect on their businesses? What are some of the problems they will face this year? How will using your product or service help alleviate these issues? Read up on press releases, annual reports, or articles on the prospective company. If you want to create a new purchasing opportunity, determine your prospects’ current as well as future needs — needs that your prospects may not even be able to identify themselves.
3. Get their attention.
What is the prospect’s primary motivation to listen to you another time? Determine a particular advantage that your product will provide to them. In order to stimulate the prospect’s attention, call or send a short and concise letter or e-mail and describe the specific problems that can be solved in using your product or service. Be creative. There are probably dozens of features you could promote. It is up to you to uncover the one that would motivate each prospect to speak to you again. After developing new strategies and ideas for a particular prospect, reopen the conversation by addressing how your product or service complements and enhances what they’re currently doing or defuses their challenges.
4. Become more than simply a salesperson — become a resource.
When following up, stay away from calling with the intention to see if they’ve received your information or to “check in” to ask if they have any immediate needs for your product/service. Take some extra time and weave in a compelling reason for your call. How can you deliver value to them? Is there something timely that you can share with them about your product/service or about their industry? Is there something applicable and newsworthy that you can discuss? Do you have a client success story that you can share?
Determine how you can contribute to the growth of a prospect’s business beyond your product or service. It could be by supplying them with a free newsletter, educational seminar, or a better service plan; you could connect them with others in your circle of influence who can contribute to the success of their business. Create a contest amongst your staff to develop ideas that will add value to your product and services without increasing your prices or fees. More service and value at a perceived lower price creates new interest. To add value to your product or service at no additional cost to the customer exceeds their expectations.
5. Stop selling products and start selling measurable results.
Feature and benefit selling is a dying strategy. Most companies are no longer in the business of selling products, but of providing solutions. In order to provide a solution, you must first understand the problem. Prospects are more interested in the end result or advantage of your product or service than in what your product does. It can be greater productivity, lower overhead, monetary savings, or an increase in their quality of life. What problems are solved by your product or service? What end result or value will they experience from what you are offering? Can it be quantified?
When cold calling, following up, or networking, are you providing the prospect with a compelling enough reason to want to learn more about your product or service? If your reasons are not powerful enough to move someone from a state of inertia to interest or action, here’s your opportunity to give them an overhaul.
Interview your past and current customers. Ask questions up front to get a complete understanding of your customer’s position and why they bought from you in the first place. What would make them look great in terms of how they are evaluated in their job? Remember, people buy based on their reasons, not yours. You can then look ahead and create a strategy that will accurately pinpoint how your product or service can assist your future customers and the measurable results they can expect.
6. Stop chasing dead opportunities.
Are you making too many follow-up calls? Whether it’s because of a stubborn attitude or a resistance to accept that a sale is truly dead, salespeople sometimes spend too much time chasing accounts that simply don’t qualify as potential sales. This should be detected during the first — the qualifying — stage of your selling process. If it was not, ask questions to determine exactly where the prospect stands. When discussing the possibility of earning a prospect’s business, it is crucial that you give them the opportunity to not only say yes but no as well. Getting turned down can make you feel rejected, but it also allows you to move on to more promising prospects.
About Keith Rosen, MCC — The Executive Sales Coach
Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top corporations, executives, and sales professionals call first. As an engaging speaker, Master Coach, and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on coaching people to achieve positive change in their attitude, behavior, and results. For his work as a pioneer and leader in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country.
If you’re ready for better results quickly, contact Keith about personal or team coaching and training at 1-888-262-2450 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Keith Rosen online at Profit Builders and be sure to sign up for his free newsletter The Winners Path.