How to Get More Sales: The Buyer’s Guide to Prospecting


By Don F Perkins

Ryan Sheehy Photo

Ryan Sheehy

Finding new customers to fill that pipeline can be a tough gig. Can I get a witness? I’ve got two great stories this week to help with that.

First: During our prospecting blitz this week, I overheard one of my colleagues being coached nearby. The sales training manager Ryan said: “You’re trying to say something magical, when what you need to do is say something logical.” Just awesome Ryan.

 

 

Stop thinking numbers and magic sauce

In the heat of the moment, when you’re calling on new prospects to find new business it’s easy to get anxious. We start thinking about those numbers looming large on the big white board and how we’re going to meet them. This one’s not answering, another one refuses, that one says call back in 6 months. All you can think about is how the hell you’re going to make this work. I’ve been there. Stop it. Want to know how to get more sales? It may sound illogical, but the answer is to stop worrying about the numbers because all that worry can make you start to change your words and your tone in an effort to find “the magic sauce.” Magic sauce is like leprechauns and little green men, it doesn’t exist and all that anxiety you feel is a really poor motivator. It makes us all sound like idiots!

“You’re trying to say something magical, when what you need to do is say something logical.”

The reality of your prospect’s world

Stop thinking about numbers and sauce for a minute and consider the reality of your prospect’s world: Most business people on average receive at least a dozen calls every day from sales people just like you, trying to set appointments with them. Add to that 300+ emails, many of which are not interesting or valuable in any way. Then there’s the five or six meetings they must attend. Whoopee! Oh yeah, on top of that, they still need to do what they were hired to do: The work!

If yours is the thirteenth flowery message today from the magic kingdom of sunshine and rainbows it is going to be dismissed faster than you can say “I’m not interested.”

And who could blame them. They have to shut you down in order to survive. It’s that simple.

Want to get heard? – Say something logical

So how can you, as a sales person, differentiate yourself and get heard? You’ve got to stop trying to say something magical. You need to say something logical. For some of us this will take a lot of chin rubbing, head scratching and arm folding at first because we like to feel our way around; we’re not used to applying logic, especially when we’re anxious about something! The good news is that prospecting with logic is a learned behavior and you can do this.

What your prospect sees

Next, let’s look at the sales experience my wife relayed to me that same day. She walked into a music store looking for a ukulele; a birthday gift. She was overwhelmed. There were 30 different ukuleles on the wall from $40 to $450. The clerk asked about who would be using it and what they would want out of it. He explained use cases for people who had bought them before. He tuned and played several of them to show her how they would sound and how easy (or not) each was to tune. In the end she walked out with a fine ukulele for about $200.

What’s striking though is that she considered it one of the best sales experiences she’s ever had. Here’s why:

  1. I didn’t feel “sold to.”
  2. I was learning.
  3. I never got the sense that he cared whether I spent $40 or $4000.
  4. When I thanked him, he just said: “That’s what I’m here for.”
  5. He wasn’t fake. He wasn’t trying to be cool.
  6. He was real.

The buyer’s guide to prospecting

All of this translates to some profound principles for sales and marketing folks about what prospects value in sales people and in each of their sales experiences. The good news is that many buyers want exactly what you have, and they are ready to buy. They are just tired of being “sold to!” Instead of trying to be magical, get real with your prospects:

  • Job one: Talk yourself out of that panic about the numbers. It’s counterproductive. Why not put that energy into developing a plan instead?
  • Relax. Consider what your prospect is going through in the here and now. What would you want to hear?
  • Stop trying to be cool and putting on airs. Be real, be you.
  • Reach into your toolbox of knowledge and find something logical and interesting they might like to learn about.
  • Forget about the sale, try to have a meaningful, logical conversation instead. That’s what you’re here for.

 

 

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  1. #1 by Robert Farmer on April 22, 2012 - 12:34 pm

    Thanks for the words of wisdom. I have an important sales presentation tomorrow and this article was very grounding. Makes a whole lot of sense.

    I also like your illustration of the ukulele sales person, educating not selling, but yet still got the sale.

    • #2 by Don F Perkins on April 22, 2012 - 12:52 pm

      Robert,

      results may vary, but my wife is one of the toughest customers I know. If you can make someone like her say: “that’s the best sales experience I’ve ever had.” I believe you’re on the right track! Good luck tomorrow, better yet, good planning.

  2. #3 by Grady Pruitt on April 25, 2012 - 9:29 pm

    I think we should all keep that third reaction in mind: she didn’t sense that it mattered whether he sold the $40 or the $400 one.

    I try to practice this all the time where I work. I work in a restaurant. I’m always suggesting things to guests who walk in, but it doesn’t matter to me if they buy or not. If they do buy, great! If they don’t buy, great! Even if they don’t buy the appetizer I suggested, maybe they’ll take my recommendation on an entree or even a dessert. Besides, you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. #4 by Orlando Sales Training, Sales Management Training on December 13, 2012 - 8:35 pm

    You must like what you are doing for a living, selling, enough to become obsessed with it. Not fifteen-hours-a-day obsessed; rather, I have-absolutely got to do this right today in and day out obsessed.
    Great article
    Creative Sales plus Management Incorporated

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