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Prospecting & Qualifying

All too frequently, salespeople schedule appointments…and then forget about them until the day before the scheduled dates. Do you? Is preparation a last-minute activity often consisting of nothing more than a quick review of the notes from the original phone conversations when the appointments were scheduled…and perhaps a review of the prospects’ websites, advertising, or marketing materials?

Can you answer the following questions about your next prospect appointment?

Everyone knows someone. Actually, everyone knows several someone’s. Your customers – as well as the prospects you call on – have some contact with, or at the very least know of, people who can benefit from your product or service. Unfortunately, they are not programmed to automatically disclose the names of those people to you. That doesn’t mean that they won’t; you must initiate the action.

Ask salespeople to list their least favourite selling activities, and you can count on “prospecting” being at the top of the list. And, the least favorite of all prospecting activities is unquestionably making cold calls.

Did you ever have a conversation with a prospect who suddenly, and for no apparent reason, became unreceptive to perfectly good advice?

Have you ever made a prospecting phone call whose central message sounded something like this? We’ve helped our clients (X, Y, and Z) to deliver (so-and-so benefit) with our (Such-and-Such brand product/service), which has (so-and-so feature). I’d love to meet with you for just a few minutes next week to show you exactly what we’ve done for those clients. How’s Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.? Are you free then?

Have you ever been in the middle of delivering a presentation to a prospect … when you noticed that he or she seemed to have completely tuned out of whatever it was you were saying?

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in discussion with a prospect about the possibility of working together. The meeting is going well. You’re working your way all through the questions you know you’re supposed to ask at this stage. You’re paying close attention; you’re taking notes. One of the questions you ask strikes a nerve with the person to whom you’re talking. Suddenly the floodgates open, and you find yourself listening to a detailed, fully expressed, fully engaged answer -- one where the prospect really opens up to you.

You’ve followed the Sandler Selling System. You haven’t disqualified the prospect. The prospect hasn’t disqualified you. What’s next—The Close.

Traditional coaching by sales managers tends to focus on results, specifically number of opportunities in a rep's pipeline and a how well a rep is filling their quota.

Sooner or later, a prospect is going to tell you, "Send literature." It's a natural response to a salesperson. It's an easy way to reject the salesperson without getting personal. Before you agree to send literature, ask yourself, "Why is the prospect requesting literature? Is this a sign of no interest?"

Beth is a new sales hire at TaskFlow, an enterprise software firm specializing in custom-designed project management applications. The company targets Fortune 1000 workspaces. She has been making prospecting calls for about two weeks, and her numbers so far are abysmal. So far, she hasn’t scheduled a single appointment.

Talking to everyone the same way can inhibit your ability to collaborate, work smoothly and articulate mission and goals. Some working relationships start out like a great first date. Thrown together in an interview or on a committee, people just click. All the positive clichés apply — they’re on the same wavelength, singing the same tune, on the same page. Essentially, they’ve been fortunate to team up with someone who happens to have a similar communication style, making it easy to collaborate.

The primary questions looming in the minds of prospects when they first talk with salespeople are, “What do you know about my company?” and “What do you know about my industry?”

Does this sound familiar to you?

Prospect A says, “This looks very good. I think there’s an excellent chance we’ll do business.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ve got one.”

Prospect B comments, “Your price is higher than we expected.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ll have to cut the price to close the deal.”

Prospect C reveals, “We were hoping for a shorter delivery time.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ll have to push this through as a rush order to get the sale.”

My Mum was a funny lady and during my youth, she was constantly throwing riddles at me.

Some of her riddles came in pairs and the pairs typically had a point.

One such pair of riddles has been a huge lesson for me as I have gone through life. Here they are.

Riddle 1: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming down the road? “Here come the elephants.”

Riddle 2: What did the elephants say when they saw Tarzan coming down the road? Nothing, elephants don’t talk.

Two weekends ago, I got to take my youngest daughter to a 4-year-old’s birthday party. I’d forgotten how elaborate some of these parties get, and this was a nice reminder. The parents of this little boy had hired an animal trainer to bring some rabbits and let the kids see them.

A common death trap salespeople fall into is having “happy ears,” meaning, they tend to hear what they want to hear. In actuality, what they (salespeople) heard does not reflect the real intent of what the prospect said.

Last time we discussed the tension of wanting to rescue a prospect sales process. Now let’s look at the situation between the buyer and seller as objectively as possible:

How do you convince someone to buy your product or service? Think about how you buy a product or service. Even the richest people in the world with “money to burn” do not buy for the sake of buying. Yes they can buy whenever or whatever they choose, however there is a reason that they buy. People love to buy, they just don’t like to be sold.

So much has been written in various sales training blogs about time management that you hardly have the time to read about it. There are numerous time management programs, processes, and tools, and even with all this help, you still can’t manage time no matter how hard you try.

We are right in the middle of summer, and I love the summer. And in the midst of this nice warm weather, it may be strange to say that I also love the winter but I do.

That’s when the business world almost uniformly decides to go into a slumber because they believe buying slows down. That’s called a self-limiting belief. That’s when I’m at my best because this is what I have found people actually still have money and are willing to spend it if you’re good enough to find their pain.

The best definition of a heated political climate is the constant “clarification” of what was said yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. When what you said is not what is heard – or if what you heard was not what was said – that is “mutual mystification.”

Actress Lily Tomlin said it best, “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

What does a marathon runner know about making prospecting calls?

Probably very little. Maybe nothing! However, the strategy the marathon runner uses to prepare for a race can help you become a better prospector. No runner started out as a marathon runner. They trained over time to build their strength and endurance to go the distance. The first day they couldn’t run 100 yards before gasping for breath. The first week was torture. The second week was a little better. The third week better yet, and so on. With continual practice, desire and effort, they became a marathon runner.

How’s your memory? Do you fall into the category as described the old adage, “I’d forget my head if it wasn’t connected to my body”? Are you constantly setting traps for yourself to be on time for meetings or where your car keys are placed or what’s supposed to be happening on your schedule from hour to hour?

Last week, I found myself trapped in a fast food restaurant. This restaurant boasts that they have served more than six billion. Still, the people in front of me seemed to be having a new experience; they simply could not decide between meal one and meal two. To call them indecisive would be an insult to vacillators all over the planet.

There are a lot of good reasons to pick up the phone and reach out to new prospective customers. When it comes to finding new business opportunities, the phone offers a high level of efficiency, is relatively inexpensive, and is a great way to gather valuable information that can help us find business.