Think about your current sales process: You probably get leads from marketing, the RFQ form on your website or referrals. You might give a prospect a call, ask a standard set of questions, set a price, send an email and hope your bid is selected.
Sure, it seems straightforward to the rest of the world, but we all know there’s more we can do — that’s why you’re here, right?
There are plenty of sales methodologies to research and adopt in your company’s process, but there’s one rule that has become universal in today’s world of social selling: Never “cold” call.
To be clear, we’re not completely against picking up the phone and starting a conversation out of the blue, but in this regard, we’re applying “cold” to the idea of no research into the company or contact you’re trying to get in touch with.
Consider the amount of information available online and your fingertips… Look at a prospect’s website. Look at his or her LinkedIn profile. Check to see if there are any company blog posts or press releases. Search for news on recent awards or big contracts.
In essence, find out what the company is up to before you start a conversation. Part of doing the research means you don’t necessarily have to ask the same 20 questions he or she has already answered about the business.
- Instead of the standard situation questions: How is your business doing? What industries do you focus on? Can you talk more about your services?
- Ask more specific situational questions: Is [industry] an area you’re continuing to grow in? What is your biggest challenge with your current supplier?
This type of questioning separates you from all the other salespeople who are trying to work with their company. It can also help a prospect to realize whether they have a need — but you should be prepared that they might not.
Not everybody needs your products or services, and this is an effective way to gauge if you’re going to waste each other’s time.
When you’re mindful of that, you also can be helpful every step of the way. Break out of the normal sales status quo and act as someone who has the best interest of the company in mind — instead of pushing your own agenda. It can really make a difference. Take a look at these two different approaches:
“Hi [first name], I wanted to reach out to see if you’d be interested in [your company’s product/service]. We have years of experience in [industry] and would love to talk more about working with you.
“Hi [first name]. Congratulations on winning a job from [company] — saw the press release. Wondered if reducing the cost of [product] an important objective for you?”
See the difference? The first email is full of “I” and “we,” whereas the second focuses on the prospective customer. A good rule of thumb is to talk at least 50 percent more about the prospect than yourself or your company.
By adding value to every call instead of checking off the checkboxes, you and the prospect can get something out of every step.
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