By Tibor Shanto – firstname.lastname@example.org
Proactive Prospecting Summer – Part 4
In this part of the Proactive Prospecting Summer series, we look at improving how we communicate early in the call. Clear concise communication is key to sales, especially in the pressure packed first few seconds of an unscheduled prospecting call, yes, a cold call. Yet it is interesting how many sellers fail to effectively communicate the simplest concepts at this crucial stage of the sale.
Try this experiment, if you are a manager or team leader, next time you have team together in a room, or call, ask them to respond to the following question: “What do you sell?” If you need to set it up, tell them the setting is a trade show and the person asking the question could be a viable prospect, so the answer counts. After a few minutes, you can start capturing their answers.
Go ahead, try it now, we’ll be here, I gotta check my e-mail anyways.
Good, you’re back, gave it a go? Here are the types of answers I get when I do this with teams:
Occasionally I hear:
“We sell solutions”, but when I ask them to elaborate, they do not go to the problem they “solve” (as in solution), they revert to product.
Others will offer up “efficiencies”, a top 5 “Sales Empty Calorie Word”. While it sounds cool, it means nothing to a prospect who has heard a thousand times before. If you don’t shape it in some way that they can visualize in their business, words like efficiency, productivity, solutions, work-flow, and others are devoid of meaning, and can in fact hurt you in a prospecting call.
I recently worked with a leading telco provider, and in doing this and a related exercise answering the question “why do people buy from you and your company?”. The Alpha rep in the group offered up, “We sell productivity, that’s why people buy from us, we make them more productive.” I said “great, give me an example.” Still confident, he fired by “we make them productive through the efficiencies we bring”. I asked for an example of the efficiencies their clients realise, here is what I got “We increase efficiencies for them by making them more productive.” “In what way?” I asked, and it literally circled like that for five minutes. How long do you think a prospect will give him on an unsolicited and unscheduled call (or e-mail, or InMail)? Exactly.
If you look at the list above, it is all correct, but it really relates to what your company “manufactures” or “produces”, or from the buyers point of view, it is literally the “deliverables”, the stuff that will be in the boxes when it arrives on “location”. But buyers are more interested in the impact the “deliverables” will have on their business. Buyers, especially economical buyers, set out to achieve business results, the “deliverables” are just a means to an end, and for most economical buyers (not the implementers, or the people who get to “push the buttons” every day, the means are a distant third to the outcome.
Many cold callers try to explain what they do at the top of the call, and then wonder why “there is no interest”. Likely because that is not what the buyer was thinking about at the time they called. But if you move to defining things in a way that aligns with the outcomes they are looking for, that are similar to what you current clients are already achieving. So go ask them what is different in their world vis-à-vis their goals, issues, risk, reputation, cost structures, market share, anything other than something that sounds like a deliverable.
As a seller, you need to translate the question “What do you sell?” to “What are they looking to achieve?” The answer has to be driven by the outcomes they are looking for. How will their world be different after they buy from you? That’s what you sell.
You can drill down on this exercise, and make it more specific to your business by exploring the on-demand version of the Proactive Prospecting Program on Sales Gravy University.