As I was preparing to bring on a new associate, I was trying to think of the best advice I could give him to get off to a fast start. I wanted to provide him with a “magic bullet” that would instantly hook every prospect he speaks with. Despite my best efforts a “magic bullet” doesn’t quite exist, but what does exist are the core principles I strive everyday to perfect. Throughout my relatively short career I have been lucky enough to have mentors guide me through the constantly evolving business landscape. I have put together the best pieces of advice they have ever given me into four core segments: simplicity, understanding, education, and listening. Depending on your product/business these may not perfectly align, but hopefully they provide an interesting perspective.
If you cannot explain what your product does in the five seconds you’re given on a cold call, then you don’t understand your product well enough. Messaging is absolutely critical for a successful outcome. What is the goal of your call? Perhaps you are looking to schedule time with him/her to discuss further, or maybe you are looking to identify trigger dates. Whatever the product you are selling does, make it simple enough for someone who has no knowledge of your industry can grasp the general concept. Also understand the “is, does, means” of what you are selling. What is it that I am selling? What does it do? What does it mean to you the prospect? If you cannot define those three questions then hang up the phone and seek answers until they become ingrained in your messaging. A prospect can instantly pick up on those who cannot properly articulate this.
UnderstandingNow that we have simplified our message, it is time to understand what the prospect does. Use social media, websites, google, etc. to understand a bit more about the personyou are calling. Once you have an idea of who they are, identify what they areresponsible for. If you are calling on CEO’s, their goal is simple: lead the company down a path of future success. If you are calling on CFO’s, they are primarily concerned with ensuring the company remains profitable. Tie your simplified message back to how you can impact their specific responsibilities. When done well, you will more than likely be given a few minutes to discuss your potential impact.
Seemingly overnight every sales professional suddenly turned into a “consultant.” To be a consultant one must truly be an expert in their respective field. The concept ofeducating your prospect comes from providing them with knowledge that they did not previously have. Positioning your product against a competitor is not consulting, but rather explaining your product differentiators. Relate the background research you’ve done on them and their company back to changes in the market or potential pitfalls. If you are providing your prospect with information they already knew then you are selling, not educating.
Sales is an extremely difficult profession. The concept of convincing others to give you money for a product or concept is truly a talent. In thinking back to every deal I have ever sold, I did not sell a single one without listening to what the prospect really cared about. Leaders can do their best with call scripts and best practices, but an infinite tree of potential responses come forward that cannot be pre-mapped. Second and third level questioning is critical to get the prospect talking about what challenges they face. Utilize the 80/20 rule, the prospect speaks 80% of the time and you speak 20%. If at any point that ratio shifts, simply redirect questions to regain that balance. Without listening and understanding how their pains correlate to your product, a successful outcome will likely never yield.
Challenge yourself to think differently and have the capacity to seek outside opinions of your approach. There are a million different ways to sell yourself and your product, so who can help you do it?