Last week another social warrior decided to take to the soap box, and tell us why cold calling is dead, and for him and his followers, it may be, but it can still play a role in your sales and prospecting success. As is my nature, I took issue with their thinking, but as I read my post, I realized that I had glossed over a key point. Specifically, that many in sales blame the medium, in this case the phone, rather than the message. Based on the hundreds of companies I have worked with, I can tell you that when your message sucks, the medium will not make up for it.
Here three things that will cause your approach to fail, no matter the medium.
Important Qualifier: The areas discussed below pertain to prospecting those people who are generally considered Status Quo, happy where they’re at, not looking for, thinking of, or can even spell the word change. These are not buyers who are out there looking, consuming content almost at the rate we crack it out, they’ve been to your webinars, and lined up to be “scanned” at a trade show. We’re looking at Status – don’t bother me – Quo.
1 – Stuck in the now, reinforcing Status Quo – Because many sellers view the world through the lens of pain, need, problem, for which “they alone” have the “cure”. Right off the top, this message turns off those who do not see themselves in the narrative. “Nope, I don’t have that problem, but thanks for calling (writing, in-mailing, tweeting, or whatever the medium) we’ll keep you in mind if things change”. You both hanging up thinking the same thing, “Why don’t these guys get me?”
Rather than focusing on the problem you solve, focus on the outcomes they lead to. Some may feel they do that now, with their ROI calculators, etc. But most focus on the one problem they address, without helping the prospect see too far past it. As one SaaS sales app provider told me, “We are only interested in that one thing”. If we don’t move the discussion, the “why of why they should talk to you” well beyond what you do, to where they are trying to go, it’s like taking them on a long journey without leaving first gear.
2 – No “And Then” – Once you’re stuck in the gear above, it is hard to get the prospect to look beyond the one marginal improvement. Prospects are evaluating entire flows and processes, make a change to one small part, and like dominos, it has repercussions throughout the ecosystem. While there may indeed be benefits to upgrading elements, they can be quickly nullified by its impact on the rest. One way to deal with this is to speak to the entirety. This requires understanding of business, not just “one solution”. This why I say forget all the books on the “Sales Books To Read for Christmas Lists”, and go get The Ten Day MBA, and really understand all of what you buyer is thinking, not just your product.
Ask most sales reps about the financial impact their products delivers, and you’ll hear most talk to either increasing revenue, decreasing cost, leading to improved bottom line. What about how you can impact their receivables, cash-flow, lines of credit, cost of financing future products, state of their balance sheet, and more. Make it easy for them to see ongoing value, making the change worthwhile. Paint a great “And then”, and see who follows.
3 – Too Me Too-ist – While we all want to and need to leverage past success, it is important that we do it in a way that intrigues prospects, not turns them off. While it is true that for many sales reps, they see more similarities than differences in their buying audience, they need to leverage the right way. This builds on the above point. It is important that to illustrate how your product can change things in the prospect’s company, you need to do it in a way that helps. Instead of the usual talking points, why not talk about some of the challenges other prospects faced in implementing your solution, how you minimized specific negative impacts, while accelerating the positive impacts, and outcomes.
While all of these allow you to step into the role of a Subject Matter Expert, they are independent of product, and derive their value from helping the prospect understand the entirety of what they are considering, instead of just one product based element, one that can be replaced, without taking everything in to account.
The above are simple, but not easy. But once you master these, you will be in a position to engage with more buyers, in a more meaningful way.