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Stop Selling and Start Investigating

April 25, 2011

One of my new consulting gigs is with a Software Development Company from Mexico. After months of planning with another consulting, and never seeing a potential prospect, I was called into the mix. To the consultant’s defense, the client had no real target industry, and their value statement is unclear. However, through contacts I was able to get 5 appointments, NOT to sell, but to INVESTIGATE the possibilities of selling. Through these 5 Investigations, we now have 1 bonifide prospect, a clear target market and a better plan to move forward. The point I am trying to make is stop trying so hard to sell, and make sure your solution or products fit the prospect. You do this by the proper investigative questions, and intensive listening. I have seen many sales people go through the obligatory questions without really listening, and finding a true basis for doing business. If you cannot find the true connection through active listening, than maybe your product or service is not the right fit.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2011 11:52 am

    Getting appointments seems like a particular “non-meshing” arena, but if you execute the rules of sound psychological principles, you would not be calling for an appointment for a sales call in the first place. Instead you would be inviting potential prospects to take a look at the research you had done on their marketplace. Data that is relevant to your prospect. Your prospects would be much more willing to attend a meeting that contains research that is relevant to their profession, then they are any sales call.

    • April 26, 2011 12:09 pm

      Great point Joe. However, not always easy to do. I think what you are trying to say is that if you make yourself a resource rather then just another guy trying to sell widgets the appointment and prospects for getting the sale are raised to a much higher level.

  2. Clark Worthley permalink
    April 26, 2011 12:46 pm

    Great points gents. So much about being a successful salesperson depends on your ability to visualize your client’s perspective of you and his/her job. Are you respectful? Do you understand their fears and desires? How can you reduce the first and fulfill the second? Are you trustworthy? By their very nature, traditional salespeople are very egocentric and prone to talk more about themselves and focus on making “the kill”. I think what Allan is saying is that this approach is becoming less effective. You need to be a resource that can meet the client’s needs. And while “active listening” is key, I suggest that active comprehension of what the client is trying to get across is just as important. That being said, you still have to know how and when to close the sale. Everyone love useful information if its free but they need to be willing to pay for it at some point.

    • Nancy Grant permalink
      June 24, 2011 10:49 am

      Clark – please contact me at 916 941 8851.

  3. April 26, 2011 12:59 pm

    Here is a formula I have seen.

    Step #1: Select your sales target (preferably a niche market)
    This is so you can re-use the same research data on other calls.

    Step #2: Get the contact info for your sales target’s prospects.
    Who are their possible clients? Make a list of them.

    Step #3: Create a short survey for your eventual niche marketing call.

    Sample survey:
    ·When you think of ____________ who is the company that comes to mind?
    ·Can you name other vendors?
    ·Who do you think does the best job? Why?
    ·Who do you think does the worst work?
    ·What are the most significant factors when you make the decision to purchase___________?
    ·What advices would you give vendors in this sector?
    ·What do you like least about vendors in this sector?

    Step #4: Now, call the contacts on your list and conduct the survey. Have it take no more than 3-4 minutes. Get a minimum of 10 completed surveys.

    Step #5: Call the prospect you want to meet with. Explain that you have some market research about their company’s markeplace, that while not scientific is very informative. Give some of the highlights from your research and close for the appointment, like so:

    Mr. Prospect, the research I have done produced some great results. What I learned during these calls includes:
    ·Which companies in your market space had top of mind awareness
    ·Who is perceived as doing the best (and worst) work
    ·The buying factors that are important to them when making a purchasing decision for ___.

    And, I’ve got the names of people who’ve told me they’re going to be buying ___ in the very near future. (if true)

    When would be a good time for us to set up a meeting for me to share my results?”

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