Sales Management

Smooth Selling: A Voyage of Sales Prospect Discovery

Engaging a prospect requires efficient pre-call research. Unfortunately, sales intelligence can be faulty and a drain on your time. Follow these tips to put what information you have to best use, regardless of how much or little you have.

Get to the Point

No matter to whom you sell, the person you call doesn’t have all day to spend on the phone. Getting to the point means constructing an introduction that is short while still being thorough.

Your introductory call should include 5 pieces of information:

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  1. Caller and company name: Identify the caller by name. It’s an obvious thing to say, but with so much to say and so little time to do so, sometimes we forget to mention our prospect’s name and company. You don’t have to say “Hello Mark, I see you work with Wells Fargo,” as an opening statement, but before the call is over, your prospect should have no doubt that you know exactly who he or she is.
  2. The type of work the company performs: Never start a call with, “Are you interested in learning more about mechanical engineering productivity.” No matter what you sell, you need to tailor your message. Instead, say, “I saw your earnings call last week, and I think you could benefit from a solution that will help get productivity levels to the place you went them to be by 2014.” Don’t waste your prospect’s time with a message you could deliver to anyone.
  3. The offer, or value proposition, of the call: Make sure your prospect knows what you do. Saying, “Hi I’m Gary with My friend at Verizon told me I should call you, so I’d like to get some time on your calendar.” Your prospects don’t necessarily know your company, and if they do, they don’t necessarily know why you’re calling them.
  4. The benefit for the prospect: Never jump into an introductory call with a long-winded description of who you are, what you do, and how awesome your products are. You don’t win a lot of prospects (or people, for that matter) over by wasting their time. Start with how your products will help them, not how your products helped some company they’ve never heard of do something they have no desire to do.
  5. A request for further business: The main purpose of an introductory call is usually to instill enough interest in your prospect that he or she schedules another meetings with you. Don’t hang up the phone without the promise of another meeting.

Don’t forget that silence is golden. Let your prospects know that you want to hear what they have to say; that their needs matter to you. If you talk non-stop during a sales call, you won’t learn much from your prospect.

According to Miller Heiman’s Conceptual Selling® methodology, asking a question and then following it up with four to five seconds of silence encourages people to give thoughtful answers. These comments often lead to insightful information you can use to seal the deal.

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