Think about the last time a complete stranger called you on the telephone or walked into your place of business and started selling their product or service.
How did that make you feel?
Would it have mattered how excited they were? Would it have mattered if they’d told you what a pleasure it was to meet you, or how honored they were to be having a conversation with you? If they instantly went into a massive feature-and-benefit overload, a long speech that basically flung the contents of their latest brochure in your direction, would you have been happy about that?
Most of the people we talk to about this say “No.” They simply don’t respond well to people barging into their lives and launching a sales pitch without any attempt to create a meaningful connection.
This very common reaction is important to bear in mind whenever you think about setting up and executing your prospecting plan. Prospecting is a series of carefully designed events meant to determine whether there’s any interest in your product or service. Period. It’s not an excuse for a sales pitch.
If there is interest in your product or service, any selling will take place after the prospect is qualified. At Sandler, we call the approach that focuses on discussing whether it makes sense to schedule a conversation, rather than whether it makes sense to buy right now, “Going for the appointment.”
Going for the appointment takes the pressure off both the prospect and the salesperson. The salesperson doesn’t have to worry about what features and benefits to bring up and what aspects of the product or service to stress. And the prospect doesn’t have to deploy their natural defense mechanisms against salespeople. (You didn’t really want to have to deal with those, did you?)
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to close the sale . . . when all you really want to be doing is closing the appointment. Remember: Your prospecting conversation is not meant to be a sales conversation! The prospecting conversation should be all about identifying whether or not there may be certain specific pains in the prospect’s world, pains that you and your organization have a track record of eliminating. If it turns out there is a possibility that the prospect may be facing problems you might just be able to solve, problems that carry an emotional impact -- frustration, uncertainty, doubt, worry, anger, concern, or anxiety -- that’s good news. But only if you don’t try to close the sale then and there!
When you’re prospecting, go for the appointment. Uncover some pain if you can. Ask whether it makes sense to schedule some time to talk about the problem in-depth. Propose a date and time. And then see what happens.
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