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Professional Achievement Group, Inc. | Rockville, MD

Prospecting & Qualifying

Have you ever gone out shopping for something and run into a salesperson that was a little too eager to show you exactly what you were looking for? And maybe the pressure you got from the salesperson didn’t help you feel warm and fuzzy about the buying experience. At that point, you really felt like getting out of the situation, and out of the store so you could see what was available elsewhere.

So what did you do? You extricated yourself from a potentially awkward situation with that salesperson by uttering the magic words: “I just need a little time to think it over.” It worked. You were free!

As selling professionals, we hear this all the time, don’t we?

It’s that time of year! In the coming days, every selling professional will be hearing some of the most dreaded words from prospects. What’s most unfortunate is that most selling professionals will agree to call back, and then invest valuable time chasing these decision makers, when they already know the outcome of their efforts.

There's a rather common belief among selling professionals that business slows down in the summer months. However, this is mostly a self-fulfilling prophecy created by professionals telling themselves that despite strong efforts, the summer months will be tough.

Have you ever given a presentation to a prospect who seemed ready to buy… but then found that, for some mysterious reason, the opportunity went nowhere once your presentation was complete?

Has this ever happened to you? During an initial discussion with a prospect, you make it a point to review your pricing information. You put everything right out on the table. The prospect tells you the price you mention “looks fine” (or is “OK,” or “seems fair,” or is “in the ballpark,” or any similar piece of vagueness). The prospect then tells you to put together a couple of samples, designs, or prototypes.

Having a big pipeline of “prospects” is typically seen as desirable. The more prospects you put into the pipeline, the more will eventually emerge as customers. At least that’s the theory!

Have you ever made a prospecting phone call whose central message sounded something like this?

Maybe something like that has happened to you. Perhaps you had a “good initial discussion” with a prospect, and, based on that conversation, you agreed to invest time and energy gathering information, working up prices, and putting together your presentation.

Following up on what a prospect is going to do is good. Unfortunately, some selling professionals don’t even make a single follow-up attempt. Here, Bob has gone beyond what can possibly be considered good follow-up methods. Bob is a pest and deserves to be treated as pest.

Everyone who is selling anything has been in this situation over and over again. And, unfortunately, 99 percent of those selling have compelling information and web sites for just this occasion - when the prospect requests it.

Tim’s closing ratio had been the lowest on the team for four months running. Juanita, his manager, asked him to meet with her privately so they could figure out, together, what the possible obstacles to better performance might be.

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if Meg had immediately responded to what Charles was looking for. He was looking for pricing and availability on services . A reasonable response would have been to ask what services and then do the standard buyer/seller tango.

Have you ever had a series of good meetings with a prospect … gathered all kinds of information ... and given what you thought was a great presentation … only to receive a response like, “Let me think about it”? Or, “I have to share all of this with my boss”? Or, “We’ll get back to you”?

How often do you get caught in the trap of telling a prospect all about your unique benefits only to find later that the prospect really wasn't interested in buying? Or, bring up a feature and benefit only to learn that the prospect has no need, whatsoever, for that feature?

How many times have you heard this from a prospect? It doesn't sound like they are in real need of your product or service. They're just collecting your information and expertise. Wait a minute, isn't that called "unpaid consulting?" Do you really want to supply information and expertise without getting paid, or at least getting a commitment from the prospect about what they will do with your information!

Today's Sales Meeting Minute

How many times have you emailed, or left information for prospects, and they called you back the following day and said, "This is the greatest stuff I've ever seen - when can I see you?" Sending or leaving literature gets you nowhere.

Nick’s meeting on Thursday morning was one he had been working on getting for the past three months. This was the one. After two previous meetings, this was the one where the decision was going to be made.

The STORY: Bob was preparing for his first appointment with Mr. Winfred P. Smerthing III, senior partner of the law firm Smerthing, Jones, Riccardo and Blarney, one of the largest, and most prestigious firms in the state.

Into the brightly polished briefcase went the oversized four-color company brochure -- fourteen glorious glossy pages that described every product and service his company offered. And to top it off, Bob added the complete introductory PowerPoint presentation and the video CD outlining just how thorough his company was.

Let's face it. Prospects want your information and expertise. They want to know what you know without making any commitments in return. Prospects have been trained by the vast majority of salespeople to feel entitled to your valuable information.

Most selling professionals hate hearing the word "no." Granted, everyone that sells wants to hear the word "yes," but a "no" is okay. What isn't acceptable is a "maybe," a "think it over," a "call me next week," a "you look good, but not now." These may appear as a glimmer of hope but they are just a polite "no." When a selling professional has done a lot of work for a prospect, even if the prospect really doesn't want to buy, the prospect feels guilty saying "no" and thinks they are being courteous by leaving you with a glimmer of hope.

Today's Sales Meeting Minute

Why do selling professionals accept play-it-safe words? Because when they go back to the office, they get to think and say that the prospect is probably going to buy — this makes the manager happy.