Ask most salespeople to describe the purpose of each interaction with a prospect and they’ll probably say something like:
- “close ‘em”
- “build the relationship”
- “educate them”
- “solve their problems”
All good answers, but the real purpose of every interaction with a prospect is to get to the truth.
What’s uncomfortable about getting the truth in an interaction with a prospect? Ask any salesperson this question and most of the time their answer will be something like “I might not get their business!”
To paraphrase George Carlin, people have a hard time facing reality. People have a hard time facing the truth, especially when it’s an uncomfortable truth.
As professional salespeople we possess only two valuables: our time and our information. Our prospects have been trained by amateur salespeople to waste our time and get our information for free.
It would seem then that knowing we won’t get a prospect’s business early in our sales cycle would preserve both.
The three truths you seek in every interaction with a prospect are:
- Close the file – if you’re not going to get the business – because the prospect has no actionable pain, isn’t willing or able to pay your price for your service or uses a decision-making process that doesn’t fit with your eating-more-than-once-per-month plan – let’s find out now so you can move on to more qualified prospects.
- Advance the sale – if your product or service has a long sales cycle (e.g. complex software) there’s no reason why you and your prospect can’t make a decision to take the next step at the end of every interaction. One of the biggest causes of overlong sales cycles is not confirming a specific next step at the end of each interaction.
- Close the sale – obviously. In this case your prospect closes themselves because you helped them discover that your product or service was the best choice to solve their problem, they were willing to pay your price, and they would make a decision about choosing you or your completion in a timely manner.
Before you start to seek these truths every time you interact with a prospect, get comfortable with David Sandler’s rule, “you can’t lose anything you don’t have.”
Too often we fall in the trap of acting like we have a prospect’s business when we have nothing but vague promises to buy from us eventually.
When you truly believe that seeking the truth, even if it is an uncomfortable truth, is in your best interest you’ll feel less pressure on your sales calls and you’ll enjoy selling more.
Hamish Knox is a Sandler Trainer in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.