LinkedIn Discussion about Prospects Who Take Advantage of Salespeople

This is from a conversation on LinkedIn.  The discussion group is LinkedIn Sales / Marketing Executives (CSO/CMO).

Question:
How would you interpret this scenario?
By Mitch Emerson Co-founder, Compelligence, Inc.
Top Contributor

You’ve gone through a pretty thorough sales process with a potential customer–multiple meetings and demos for the end users and decision makers of your product or service; they say they love it and it’s what they need. They then ask for a bid so they can get it into their budget planning…and then they totally disappear–no replies to e-mails or phone calls for multiple months. They put time and interest in from multiple people at the beginning so it doesn’t -appear- to be just a competitive bid request or a fishing trip. Any tips for what you would do with that situation?

Response:
By Jacques Werth
Author “High Probability Selling”
Top Contributor

Mitch – That situation presents a valuable lesson. Many prospects take advantage of salespeople who do a lot of work in hope of getting their business.

Never do work for a prospect, unless you have an assurance from the *top decision maker* that you will get their business if you can meet his/her requirements. Then, find out what their requirements are, and figure out whether you can meet them, or not. That does not “guarantee” you’ll get their business, but it can minimize your exposure.

Regarding the described situation, respond to the request for a bid, with an offer to help them write the Request for Quotations. Then, design the RFQ so that it’s very difficult for any competitor to meet its requirements.

Using that strategy, I have sold $100s of millions, of everything from waterproofing dams, tunnels, and ballistic missile silos, to high tech capital equipment, and sales training.

 

 

 

 

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LinkedIn Discussion about Prospects Who Take Advantage of Salespeople

How to Say Ok Goodbye When a Prospect Says No

There are just three things to do when a prospect says “No”.  First you say “Ok” and then you say “Good-bye” and then you hang up.  However, the way you do each of these makes a lot of difference.  The meaning that the listener perceives is greatly influenced by your tone and timing.

The tone should be emotionally neutral, matter-of-fact, as if you were making a simple statement that has no “attitude”.  It should not convey your frustration about hearing “no” from yet another prospect.  It should not reveal your boredom with the process of making call after call.  It is also very important that your tone does not communicate an enthusiasm or friendliness that the prospect is likely to presume is faked.

The timing should clearly separate the “Ok” from the “Good-bye”.  Say these two words as two separate statements, with a pause in between.  Do not act like you are in a rush.  After you say “Good-bye” wait a while in silence before you hang up.  It’s best to let the other party hang up first.

Keep the intended meaning of each of these three things clearly in your mind when you do them.

  • Ok means that you acknowledge and accept what the prospect has just said.  It means that you are not going to argue.  It demonstrates that you did not have an emotional attachment to that particular outcome.  It demonstrates that you listen.
  • Good-bye means that you are done with this call.  It means that you have nothing more to say.  It demonstrates that you are moving on in a businesslike manner.
  • Waiting for a while before you hang up means that you are not dismissing the prospect.  You are not “slamming the door”.  It also gives the prospect an opportunity to ask you not to hang up yet.  This does happen, especially after you have called that prospect a few times.

To hear a sample of how to say “Ok … Good-bye”, you can click on this link

How to Say Ok Goodbye When a Prospect Says No

Totally Truthful Salespeople

by Jacques Werth

I have been in sales, sales management, and sales training since 1955.  From the beginning, I observed how top sales producers actually sell, intent on becoming one of them.  In 1961, I started to manage a sales force.

The first thing I noticed in my new job was that our salespeople all had an underlying sense of insecurity about selling and being believed.

Lou bragged about how his magic words and wise appearance closed his last sale, even though his sales were infrequent.

Steve kept revising his sales pitch, sure that all he needed was the right words to convince his prospects to buy.

Art was good looking, charming, and had a great sense of humor.  His lynchpin was rapport.

Bill knew far more about the services we sold than anyone, and he was sure that his expertise would close the sales.

They all constantly tried to come up with the best way to convince prospects of the benefits of our services.  However, most of them were barely making a living.

That was my first shot at managing salespeople and I didn’t know how to get through to any of them.  Then, one day, Wilbur joined our sales force.  He was quiet, self-assured, and a very good listener.  He reminded me of some of the top sales producers I had observed before I got into management.  In his first month with our company he became the top sales producer and his sales production kept improving.

When the other salespeople asked Wilbur how he did it, he said, “I just tell my prospects the truth about everything, the good and the bad.”  However, the other salespeople continued to sell the way they always did.

At that point, Wilbur’s sales accounted for almost 40% of our total sales volume and I was determined to find another Wilbur.  So, I began recruiting and interviewing salespeople, but I didn’t hire anyone until Stan showed up.

Stan didn’t seem to be like Wilbur in any obvious way.  He was friendly, energetic, and gregarious.  However, like Wilbur, he was a stickler for telling the whole truth.  After several months, Stan’s production was getting close to Wilbur’s and the less successful salespeople wanted to know how he did it.

Stan may have had a better understanding of why his sales process worked so well.  He told the other salespeople that he always told his prospects about the benefits and the detriments of our services, including everything that could go wrong.  He also explained how we guaranteed our services, but if service was required, it would not be a pleasant experience until everything was fixed.  However, the poor performing salespeople did not believe Stan either.

By the following year our company’s sales volume had almost doubled, most of the original salespeople were gone, and I was still recruiting salespeople like Stan and Wilbur.  That is how our company became one of the largest in the industry.

The lesson in this story is that you can make a lot more sales by telling the whole truth, and not just the parts that you think will help you persuade your prospects to buy.

Totally Truthful Salespeople

5 Toxic Behaviors that Kill Sales

by Jacques Werth

1. Assume the Sale.  Treat everyone who might buy from you as if they will.  Persuade and convince them.

People who are that easy to convince are probably unwilling or unable to buy.  Many more people will resent you making assumptions about what is theirs to decide.
2. Get Out There and Sell.  You can’t sell ’em if you don’t meet ’em.
You will waste a lot of time that way, yours and theirs.  That will probably be the last time you get to meet them.
3. Act Like a Consultant.  Present yourself as an expert and trusted advisor about what they need.
Most prospects know better than to believe that a salesperson can be an objective advisor.  Salespeople who pretend to be consultants are trusted even less.
4. Find Problems and Solve Them.  Uncover the prospect’s needs and persuade them that you have the solutions.
Most prospects have more problems than they can ever get handled.  If it’s not a top priority for them when you call, they will not buy.
5. Overcome Objections and Close the Sale.  Convince prospects that their objections are wrong, or are actually benefits.
Objections are usually caused by the salesperson’s lack of authentic disclosure or by the prospect’s lack of a commitment to buy.

 

5 Toxic Behaviors that Kill Sales

Dodging Price Creates Doubt

by Jacques Werth

Most salespeople avoid answering the price question until after they have built value in the eyes of the prospect.  How do you feel about a salesperson who dodges your questions about price when you are the buyer?  Most prospects know exactly what the salesperson is doing and they resent it.  That resentment ends in too many “I have to think it over” results.

At the beginning of the sales process many prospects ask about price.  Most salespeople conclude that price must be very important to that prospect.  However, less than twenty percent of major purchases (excluding commodities) go to the low price supplier.

Most of the top sales producers have a very different attitude when a prospect asks about price.  They respond without hesitation, and give the prospect an authentic price range.  Example:  “Depending on exactly what you want, the price range is between $16,000 and $24,000.  Are you able and willing to buy within that range?”

Top sales producers understand that most prospects who ask about price only want to know whether the price is in the ballpark of what they can and will pay.

If the prospect does not ask the price question early in the sales process, top sales producers bring it up.  They want to know the prospect’s answer to avoid wasting time and emotional stamina on a prospect that is very unlikely to buy.

Dodging Price Creates Doubt

10 Tips for Prospecting Success

by Jacques Werth

The ability to prospect efficiently, effectively and enjoyably will enable you to meet with prospects that need, want and can afford your products and services – now. Your confidence will soar and empower you to develop a consistently superior income stream.

1. Start with a highly targeted telephone prospecting list, consisting of people or companies that are most likely to buy your type of products and services. Use a highly reputable list broker to find such a list. Start with a list of no more than 600 names. You cannot afford to develop your own list; It is much too time consuming. If you already have a book of business, follow this prospecting process with your existing clients as if they are new prospects.

2. Call every name on your list every 3-4 weeks. Understand that only a small percentage of your list will be ready to buy the first time that you call. Many more will be ready each successive time that you call. People buy in their own time for their own reasons; not because you have to make a sale this week. Calling them frequently is vital to prospecting success.

3. Present a “prospecting offer” of no more than 45 words that clearly states who you are, what you are selling, and two features of your product or service. Finish up with “Is that what you want?” Each time you call, change the two features. That will prevent most prospects from getting annoyed. It will also eliminate most of the rejection that is caused by traditional cold calling.

4. If the prospect says “No” or “I am not interested,” you say “Okay, good bye.” Do not press for an appointment. Do not try to engage the prospect in a conversation or ask any questions. This will be the most pleasant sales call they ever get. It will assure that very few prospects will ask you not to call again.

5. Schedule your prospecting sessions for 3½ hours. Take a fifteen-minute break between each hour. This is more productive than five prospecting sessions of one hour each.

6. Tape yourself. Use a tape recorder with an open microphone to tape your side of each call. Start the tape when the prospect answers. Listen to how you sound. The goal is to hear yourself using your usual conversational tones. Do not try to sound like a professional salesperson. Do not come across as overly enthusiastic, unusually friendly, or enticing. Just relax and present your offer without persuasion.

7. Always be in a “Disqualification” mode. Be determined to spend your selling time only with High Probability Prospects. Disqualify Low Probability Prospects quickly and courteously. Don’t allow desperation or anxiousness to deter you from your mission. If the prospect says “Yes,” you ask “Why?” Let the prospect convince you that he/she is a High Probability Prospect.

8. Accept the fact that prospecting really is a “numbers game.” The most important numbers are your Dials per Hour and the ratio of prospecting Offers to Dials. Most agents dial at least fifty numbers per hour.

9. Keep accurate records of your prospecting sessions. We have trained thousands of agents to be successful prospectors. The most successful keep accurate records. The least successful don’t. The act of keeping records will enable your subconscious mind to constantly improve your results.

10. Most top producers make fewer appointments, but close most of the prospects they meet.

You can learn more about efficient, effective, and enjoyable prospecting by going to www.HighProbSell.com.

10 Tips for Prospecting Success

Prospecting and the Gatekeeper

By Miles Sonkin, High Probability® Selling

If you’re calling business to business, and you’re reaching the administrative assistant, chances are that they know all about what the decision maker wants and doesn’t want.

The concept of getting past the gatekeeper usually ends badly. This article provides a different approach.

Q. When making prospecting calls, the prospect often ‘isn’t in’. When should I call next? Won’t the gatekeeper get irritated if I keep calling?

A. Here’s how we handle this common, and frustrating, situation in High Probability Selling:

Joe Prospect, please.

“Who’s calling?”

This is Miles Sonkin with High Probability Selling.

“Is Mr. Prospect expecting your call?”

No he isn’t. Are you Mr. Prospect’s gatekeeper?

“Well … yes.”

I am calling Mr. Prospect to make a twenty second offer. Is it okay if I make the offer to you right now and you can determine if you are willing to put me through, or not?

“Sure.”

[Give Offer] … Is this something Mr. Prospect would want?

At large companies, the gatekeeper typically knows Mr. Prospect’s business as well as he does, and can answer the question with a “Yes,” “Probably” or “No” answer. When you get a “Yes” or “Probably,” they’ll do one of the following:

  • Put you through to Mr. Prospect, if he’s available
  • Specifically ask you to leave the message on Mr. Prospect’s voicemail. (When this happens, leave the message, but start it with: “This is Miles Sonkin with High Probability Selling. I just spoke with Gatekeeper Name, your assistant, and after I told her why I was calling, she specifically asked me to leave you a voicemail message, because she thought it was something you might want.” Then give your offer and leave your phone number.
    Take as much time as needed to write your message down and commit to reading it to Mr. Prospect.
  • If the gatekeeper is not willing to put you through, say, “OK…Goodbye.”

This type of conversation rarely happens because other aspects of the HPS prospecting method make this type of conversation rarely necessary. There are a number of factors, one of which is calling with a new offer every 3-4 weeks. This makes gatekeeper blocks an increasing rarity for the HPS prospector.

Prospecting and the Gatekeeper