Web leads. Email inquiries. RFI’s. Phone inquiries. You name it. When a prospect reaches out to you, those are great opportunities. 100% of the time they are all going to ask the same thing, “can you send me some information?” And that makes sense, right? Just curious, what is your close rate on those people? Seriously, what is your close rate when people ask for information? Let’s face it, most people will fire off their latest PDF in an email or if you are fond of snail mail, send the information to them without even qualifying the prospect as to why they asked in the first place. Scary.
Try this role play out for size:
Salesperson: Mr./Mrs. Prospect. Thank you for inquiring about our company. How can I help you?
Prospect: I was hoping you could just send me some literature.
Salesperson: Mr./Mrs. Prospect, we don’t have any literature.
Prospect: Why not?
Salesperson: Typically a shelf house will have literature to give people. Our business is mostly custom, so it’s a little bit different.
Prospect: So, how can I compare your service to ABC company if you don’t have any literature?
Salesperson: You probably won’t be able to.
Prospect: So really you be helping me today. Can you get back to me in a couple days with some literature?
Salesperson: I won’t have any more in a couple days than I have right now.
Prospect: Well, I am a very busy person and I need to compare vendors.
Salesperson: I understand you are busy but what is wrong with the other vendor? Why do you want to compare?
Prospect: We are trying to come up with a better “X”.
Salesperson: Who are you dealing with now?
Prospect: ABC Company.
Salesperson: I know that company. Good people.
Prospect: What we would like to do is evaluate you with 3 other vendors.
Salesperson: You don’t have to do that. You are dealing with the best company. Stay with ABC Company. How long have you been with them?
Prospect: We have been with them for 2 years now.
Salesperson: And who were you with before that?
Prospect: Well, we divvy up our business between 4 different vendors. This way we are not stuck if something goes wrong.
Salesperson: That makes sense. So, no matter how hard ABC Company works…even if they are perfect, they are going to lose your business soon enough.
Prospect: We divvy the business equally.
Salesperson: So I have other clients that say things like this to me and I tell them the story about the guy on death row. Can you picture the guy on death row? Every time they go to ‘the chair’ the governor calls. Really, if they are going to pull the switch, let’s just get it over with. Why all the calls from the governor? So, ABC Company. Can you imagine what they are thinking? ABC Company is waiting for the governor to call.
Prospect: The guy from ABC Company has ample opportunity to continue to do business with us and we equally divvy up the business between them. Obviously they would like more business.
Salesperson: Yeah, and he puts up with that. There is no way ABC Company is going to get more business. So, what I have to look forward to if we did earn your business, is that from the day I get it I am a day closer to losing it.
Prospect: No, you would have a share of the business.
Salesperson: Yeah, but eventually I will trip because I have to get back on death row with the others. My problem here is that the guy from ABC Company is working hard for you. He thinks everyday he’s doing a great job for you. But the clock is ticking. You are going to divvy it up. This sounds like an intellectual process. There is no loyalty here, no offense. You never bought from us before.
Prospect: We are interested in you submitting literature and a proposal to us explaining what you can do for us.
Salesperson: OK, let me ask you a question before I agree to this. I get you the literature and submit a proposal to you…and you love it. What happens next?
Prospect: We will evaluate it and compare it to the other vendors.
Salesperson: OK, let’s pretend you did all that and you came back to me and told me ‘this is the best thing since sliced bread and the greatest thing I have ever seen’. Now what happens?
Prospect: Then we would consider you as one of our vendors.
Salesperson: Thank you. That’s exactly where I want to be. However, I don’t understand the word “consider”.
Prospect: Well obviously we will have to re-evaluate our vendor base.
Salesperson: Alright, you did all that and you told me we are beautiful and 1st class all the way. Now what?
Prospect: That’s the end of it.
Salesperson: The end of it? The end of it means what?
Prospect: If we evaluate you and we find out that you are a suitable vendor for us we will obviously do business with you.
Salesperson: Great. Let me see if I got this straight. I come in and give a demonstration. You evaluate me. I am better than anything you have ever seen and I get the business.
Who is doing all the work in that scenario? In the beginning the prospect was too busy telling the salesperson how good they are. “I’m a very busy person…” That’s emotionally involved. The prospect is wearing his emotions on his/her forehead. Average sales people will miss this and not deal with the real issues on the first call. In the scenario above, the prospect told the sales person how they buy. The prospect is giving the sales person their profile. Average sales people are so hungry for the business they miss all of this. Falling back and asking the tough questions up front will shorten your sales cycles drastically.