Did you watch any of the 2014 World Series?
I watched a few pitches of Game 6 and I'm a baseball guy! Why so little? I was watching Jake Peavy give it his all, trying to hold things together, and thought to myself, "Why am I watching this? I don't care about either of these two teams. I'm not engaged." I'm guessing that if you're not a Giants or Royals fan, you may not have seen too much of this World Series either. I do plan to watch Game 7 - as long as it keeps me engaged.
Engagement. There is a huge connection between what I experienced with the World Series, and what prospects experience with salespeople. If you can understand and apply this analogy it will make a huge difference in the quality of your calls and meetings. Here are the four most important things for you to know.
Think back to the last time you were a prospect - for something - anything. Other than a shiny new car or your next home, were you excited? Really excited? Were you anxious to talk with a salesperson about long distance or VoiP, insurance, payroll, shipping, a new machine, software, office furniture, computers, legal and accounting, landscaping, seal-coating your driveway, a fence, an industry-specific tool or device, anything?
No, of course not.
So, it stands to reason that your prospects aren't all that excited about meeting with you or your salespeople either. That helps to explain all of the cancellations and postponements that so many salespeople experience! The prospects will meet if they have to - if they need to - but not because they are simply interested. Even that is interesting. You know they need to meet, but they aren't admitting that. So, you ask why they wanted to meet and they explain that they are "investigating other options, exploring what's available, or curious about your capabilities." But, if you know that they are meeting with you because they need what you have, you can push back. You can say, "Most people are too busy to meet with me unless there is something they were really hoping I could help with. In your case, what would that be?"
Making this situation a bit more challenging is that salespeople get really excited about talking to, meeting with and presenting to their new prospects. The reality is that there is a huge lack of alignment in the levels of excitement between salespeople and prospects. So, how can you get them as excited as you are about discussing and showing them what you have?
It's not easy, but you can do this if you can help them solve a business problem. At the same time, that's the exact mistake that so many salespeople are making. They start by trying to demonstrate that they can solve a business problem. I know. I sound like I'm contradicting myself even though I'm not. What I'm saying is, you can't demonstrate your ability to solve their business problem until they have admitted that they have a business problem! This can't occur until after they have:
- Told you about the issues that contribute to their business problem,
- Told you about the business, personal, emotional and financial impact or consequences of their business problem,
- Quantified the cost of this problem if it's left unresolved, and
- Expressed their desire to accept your help.
You still need to qualify them.
My favorite Qualification Articles are:
Then, and only then, is it appropriate to demonstrate how you can solve their business problem. Then, they will be as excited as you are. Then, they will be ready to buy. Then, they will take action.
How can you make the transition from demonsrating your product, to demonstrating your ability to solve a business problem, to doing that only after having learned about their desire to get your help?
I'll be honest with you. It's not easy. It involves learning to master the art of Consultative Selling, and specifically, how to listen and ask follow-up questions the right way. For most salespeople, that takes 8 months of training from someone who actually knows what they're doing. And not many sales trainers and coaches have the ability to teach this the right way. It is a very elite group!
Prospects will get as excited as you when you learn how to get them excited - not by doing demos and presentations, but by asking enough good, tough, timely questions to learn about them and their business issues. Then you'll know they are saying, "Wow, she really gets it. I want to work with her!"