During crisis it’s tempting for us to agree to meet with anyone who passes the “fog a mirror” test, especially if it’s an inbound lead.
As David Sandler said, “it’s okay to want the business, but it’s not okay to need the business.” When our prospect sense that we are needy or desperate they are firmly in control of the sales process and will get us to say or do things that aren’t in our best interest (like do free consulting or discount for no reason).
When our sales funnel is shrinking and we feel like we need to close a sale focus on these three mindsets, two behaviors and one technique to differentiate ourselves on how we sell instead of what we sell, which is a commodity to our prospects (whether it’s a literal commodity or not).
- I’m financially independent and I don’t need the business – admittedly the hardest one to implement when our sales funnel looks like a strand of uncooked spaghetti. Often we have to trap ourselves into this mindset like my colleague, who decades into his Sandler career carries a $1 million bill in his pocket when he goes on a sales call. It’s a child’s toy, but it gives him confidence to focus on mindset number two…
- As a sales professional I get paid based on the information I gather not the information I give – this is also difficult, especially if we have leaders asking us to artificially inflate our pipelines by doing demos or giving quotes to anyone who asks. By believing that we must gather before (or if) we give information we will be more likely to adopt mindset number three…
- I have the right to be treated as an equal in the sales conversation – under stress humans tend to reveal their true nature. A prospect (or client) who prefers to treat us like an order taker now is unlikely to magically become an ideal prospect when we settle into a permanent new normal. Adopting this mindset also gives us the freedom to say to a prospect, “I don’t believe we’re a good fit to work with you” based on either their unwillingness to treat us as an equal or the information we gather prior to presenting.
- Give a little – yes, we get paid based on the information we gather; however, our prospects need to trust us before they’re willing to share, which is harder now because they (and we) are stressed. By giving a little information we reduce friction in our sales process by leveraging the wiring for reciprocity in our prospect. That might sound like, “happy to chat with you about if we’re a good fit to work on your project, Prospect. When were you hoping to get rolling? If it’s less than X weeks we’re probably not the right fit.” This prompts our prospect to either save us a bunch of time by disqualifying themselves or they will share information that’s beneficial to our qualify process like, “oh, we’re looking at X +2 weeks at least.” We can then use that information to gather more information by saying something like, “thank you. Curious, why X + 2 weeks to get going?” And so on and so on.
- Ask at least one more question than feels comfortable – there will come a point where we feel like we’ve “gone far enough” in our questions with our prospect. That’s a story we’re making up. When we feel our brain say “you’ve gone far enough” ask one more question, likely a clarification related to the topic we and our prospect were just discussing. We’ll likely get new information from our prospect without breaking rapport.
- Create clarity at the beginning of our conversation with our prospect – prospects have an agenda when they call, which is to get one of the three Ps of sales – a presentation, a proposal or a price quote. We also have an agenda, which is to gather information from our prospect to (dis)qualify them. We and our prospect also have an amount of time we want the conversation to last and a preferred outcome(s) at the end. Without clarity we’re on a trip to vagueness. There’s a saying about what happens in vagueness…
We’ll probably hear a lot more “no”s by adopting those mindsets, doing those behaviors and implementing those techniques. We will; however, end up with a book of ideal clients who we can keep and expand instead of burning our mental and emotional energy on PITAs.
Until next time… go sell something.