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(Southern Counties) | pglynn@sandler.com
 

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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 favorite 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.

We are often uncomfortable asking for referrals. Why is that? What can we do to train ourselves to ask for them professionally?

Networking can be a waste of time, effort, money, resources. What is the answer for your business?

Why do we get that sinking feeling when we think about networking? Why does it not appeal?

A lot of business owners are struggling with how to add social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter into their prospecting or marketing plan. Social networking is the #1 online activity, used by 1.2 billion people worldwide. Nearly one in five minutes online is spent on social media websites, and 75% of that is on Facebook.

Salespeople invest time developing their pitch, formulating questions, and preparing responses to expected questions and objections from the prospect. They rehearse, refine, and rehearse some more.

Or have you? Wonderful excuse; my prospective clients have all gone away home or off skiing or being with their kids or whatever. All offices are closed for at least 2 weeks, no point in embarrassing myself asking for people who just plain are not there.

Speaking to a colleague recently, he told me that he is frustrated by people who appear to be good prospects, but then string him along and never make a commitment.

A salesperson's value is more about what information they discover from prospects, as opposed to what information they share with prospects. And nowhere is that more apparent than in budget.

A contact of mine recently asked me about a series of emails she was receiving from another organisation about not cold calling.   You might be surprised to know that I agree with those emails. Just don’t agree with the solution.

Your meeting is all arranged, you have done your homework, rehearsed how you think the meeting will go, prepared your questions, polished your presentation, it can’t fail.

Let’s face it. Cold calling / or nearly cold calling is part of growing a business. No calls, no sales. Poor calls, fewer sales. Exceptional calls, great sales. So why then do so many salespeople treat calling like some antagonist they’d rather avoid? Hard to tell.

Your strategies for interacting with prospects from the time you first meet them to the time you make a presentation can have a greater impact on your likelihood of closing a sale than the actual aspects of the product or service you have to offer.

Did you know that you can use LinkedIn to help grow your business? Utilised effectively, LinkedIn can help you generate prospects and referrals.

In my role I am fortunate enough to work with many different types of businesses and I get to see lots of different and fascinating products. However, they all have one thing in common – customers!

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.