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Sandler Training in Calgary | Calgary, AB

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A salesperson’s only valuables are their time and information. Many salespeople waste time with suspects instead of real prospects because they have no process to support them in quickly sorting out the time wasters from the true potential clients.

Whether it’s an inbound or outbound lead someone is interrupting someone else’s day. Our goal when we first connect with a suspect is to determine if it’s worth investing our time with them beyond that call and, if so, get a visit in our calendars.

Our challenge in getting from “hello” to “look forward to meeting you on…” is our prospect has a mental model of how a salesperson is supposed to act and have been trained to share as little information as possible with a salesperson. This is where the mantra, “put the pressure on the process, not the person,” which our leadership clients hear often comes in.
To that end, if we have a short list of boxes to check in an initial conversation with a suspect that helps us determine if they advance further into our process, we can stay present in the conversation and not get sucked into “quoting and hoping.”

The boxes we encourage our clients to check in their initial conversations include:

  • Why – this uncovers, at least at a high level, the compelling, emotional reason our suspect called
  • Why now – sales requires action so by understanding why our suspect called now gives us a sense of their motivation to act with urgency or helps us determine that they are only fishing for information.
  • Why us – we want to understand who we might be competing with, even if that’s only the status quo, before we start investing time and resources in pursuing a suspect who is only looking to grind their current supplier with a competitive quote.
  • Do you have money set aside for this no or yes – we’ll get to the real dollars and cents later, but we want to get a sense early on if our suspect has even considered the investments required to solve their “why”s. A “no” answer doesn’t necessarily disqualify, but it is a yellow flag that needs to be lowered shortly.
  • When do you need a solution in place – this helps us avoid the “I’ll decide tomorrow and need it implemented yesterday,” suspects and gives us another data point in understanding our buyer’s motivation. We also might get a chance to say “no” to a suspect who has a timeline for implementation that, while realistic in their mind, doesn’t exist in the real world.

One caveat to “initial conversation.” Sometimes the context of the conversation means checking all those boxes doesn’t fit and attempting to would make us look like pushy salespeople. An example of this is a trade show or networking event, the in-person, or virtual versions.

At an event like that it may only fit to get an answer to “why” and, maybe “when do you need…” before we say something like, “happy to chat further about this, but this isn’t really the right venue for this conversation. How about we put 10 minutes in our calendars so we can fully focus on our conversation?” This is another inflection point for our prospect who may say, “no, I need it now!” which is great or they might say, “yeah, that’s a good idea. When were you thinking?”

By having a list of boxes to check, instead of a script to follow, we are more likely to stay present, keep our focus on our prospect and stay in control of our sales cycle.

Until next time… go sell something.

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