Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How to stop looking stupid on sales calls

Over and over, we all share the same experience.  Some salesperson calls you on the phone, and immediately launches into a laundry list of all the amazing things that their product does, after barely saying “hello.”  It is as if they are on a game show, trying to get the right answer by dumping enough words into the call, hoping that some chance phrase lights your interest before you hang up.

Salespeople call me anywhere from 4-8 times daily, all with some variation on the same pitch.

And they wonder why they have such little success.

Most companies, including some of the largest sales organizations in the country, follow the same approach:  Call, describe your product and ask if they are interested in purchasing.  If not, then hang up and go to the next name on the list.  The goal is to move through the list and find any opportunities you can in the shortest amount of time.

While they may achieve some short-term sales wins, the net effect of such a sales approach is to alienate a larger and larger share of your prospect pool.  That share by the way, includes a valuable group –prospects who may be willing to buy later, but lack the information and clear benefit to make the switch at this moment.

When you try to force a sale on those prospects and then repeat the same process over and over again, you create three impacts.  Your prospects learn that:
1. You are less interested in them than you are in yourself
2.  You are not to be trusted
3. You do not care for them as individuals
The net result is not only do you fall out of the “circle of trust” with prospects, you also make it more unlikely that the prospect will make any decision at all.  In a world where there is no trust, who can you believe in?

But there is another way.

The top business development efforts today combine the best of database marketing, publishing and sales in order to build relationships with key prospects, nurturing them and building trust until they are ready to make a sale.  The process is called Content Based Selling (CBS), and it hold potential to reinvent relationships with prospects and lead gen from now on.

I will write in more detail about CBS in my next post, but the high-level approach is to determine NOT whether a prospect is ready to buy, but instead, what information they need to have to be ready to make a decision – what questions, what concerns, what objections do they need to overcome in the process of making a decision.  By providing impartial information to prospects based on those specific needs, you can build trust and relationships over time – critical ingredients in building a stable, growing pipeline of business.

Follow Content Based Selling and you will be able to:
  • Stop cold calling in your firm
  • Build an accurate, predictable sales pipeline
  • Drive insights from prospect needs to improve your marketing and customer service experience as well as sales process
  • Enjoy your work more every day while you consistently surpass your goals
In my next post, I will tell you what to do so Content Based Sales can revolutionize your business and your career.

Mark Price is Managing Partner of M Squared Group, a consulting firm focused on understanding and building customer relationships, and the author of the blog “Cultivating Your Customers,” where he writes about practical approaches to improve customer retention and overall customer value. 
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