The Purchasing Agent started the sales call with: "So, what do you have for me today?" It struck Jennifer that she was hearing this line far too frequently when she showed up for a sales call with both prospects and current customers in her territory.
That simple question had turned into an uncomfortable test, and it filled her with anxiety. All the pressure to get the conversation started and keep it on track to collect a decision fell squarely on her shoulders, and the way the Purchasing Agent just sat and pretended to listen didn't make matters any better. Jennifer figured there had to be a better way to get the prospect to be as committed to the call as she was, but frankly, she was struggling to find a better way.
In a world of Show & Tell Selling or Dog & Pony Shows, prospects have learned that many salespeople don't really know how to engage them, so they just pull on the cord and wait for the salesperson to blab, blab, blab away. Features & Benefits all sound the essentially the same since no one ever comes in and says their products are inferior to the competition. So, what was the point of doing much more than enduring the drone of each salesperson that wanted to steal time from them?
Jennifer had been trained to do product pitches and she enjoyed getting people excited about what she was selling, but after a while the excitement is hard to muster. Each call she went on turned into just another stop that ended with a request to leave the literature on the desk, or send a proposal, and a half-hearted commitment to a follow-up call a few weeks later. Was this what her career was destined to be, or could she find way to do something that nobody else was doing? It was time to try something different.
There is a predictable pattern followed by the salesperson and prospect in almost all sales situations. It's basically what Jennifer and thousands of other salespeople have been doing, and the results are about the same for everyone stuck in that pattern.
In a desperate search for a new approach, Jennifer decided on a totally different tact. Before her next round of the appointments, she sent a list of questions to her prospects, asking them to consider what problems they are hoping to alleviate and which situations her products might be most useful. The questions were straight forward and any of her prospects could easily supply the answers when she showed up on the next visit. By taking to the time to consider what her prospects might think and want, the calls became more effective and the prospects were appreciative that when Jennifer showed up they would get right to business discussing things that mattered to them.
Jennifer's idea was to give them some homework. The result being that she came across as more professional and interested in what her prospects had to share and gathered real information in return. She had become her own competitive difference.
As you look at your schedule for this week- are there any appointments set that you could reach out to today and give a little homework to help make that meeting run more smoothly? If you have already assigned homework, do you ever check-in before the appointment to make sure it is done so that you can arrive fully prepared to the call?
What is your best homework story?
Final Thought for the Morning:
"Prospects don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” ~ a Growth Dynamics tenet
"A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue." ~ Truman Capote
Your Top 3 Goals & Tactics for the Week
LAST WEEK: Update us on how things went last week with your stated Goals and GD Tactics.
THIS WEEK: Please share your Top 3 Goals for this week and the GD tactics you plan to deploy.