As a lover of Halloween and all things spooky, my favorite time of year is here. But there are things that truly frighten me, like bad business practices. So gather ‘round for the “Tale Of The Lost Prospect.”
Often we’ll get this e-mail from a member: “I ran the X campaign and got Y leads, but none of them closed and they’re all thinking it over. What can I do to get them to buy?”
Tough question. The true answer is to get in a time machine and go back to the beginning of the sale and not screw it up.
The “I need to think it over” response is code for “I’m not certain about buying from YOU.” Not price, not terms, not anything, although that is the way a prospect will articulate their reason for not buying. Or they’ll simply tell you they need to think it over and then proceed to ignore your calls and e-mails.
Once you’ve met with and quoted a prospect, it’s enormously difficult to UNDO their opinion of you. Certain judgments have already been formed and an aggressive follow-up can make things WORSE by making you appear needy and desperate, pushing a prospect further away.
That’s why you have to engineer your sales process to build trust, authority and credibility from the beginning when they first call your office.
A prospect that TRUSTS you and BELIEVES you are an authoritative, credible expert is going to take your advice and accept your fees, even if higher than another provider’s. This is why referrals close faster and easier; that trust has already been established and, unless you totally hose it, they’ll buy.
So here are a few things you should be doing in your sales process FROM THE START to build your position as a credible authority who can be trusted INSTEAD of a desperate, needy sales guy or tech:
1. Have your phones answered live, BUT NOT BY YOU.
There’s no line to see the “guru” at the bottom of the mountain. An in-demand expert should not be too readily, easily accessible. Sales guys are. Therefore, you need a “gatekeeper” who schedules your calls, confirms calls and “finds” you. To be clear, a prospect calling in should be immediate, friendly help from a trained and competent person – but YOU (the owner) should not be too readily available. If you’re a small start-up, then use Call Ruby (see the Vendor Directory) or some other call-answering service. And by no means should you have your support techs taking those calls.
2. Conduct yourself in a manner that is congruent with your marketing.
As the saying goes, “Seeing is believing.” Let’s suppose you’re thinking of hiring a contractor to remodel your kitchen – a big, expensive undertaking.
He’ll be entrusted to make sure the architectural plans are solid and that the electrical, plumbing, flooring, cabinet guys, etc., actually do a quality job. He’ll be entrusted with overseeing all the work, the budget (your money) and the time frame in which the project gets done. He HAS to be able to manage details, be highly dependable and meticulous about inspecting the work.
However, in the interview process, he shows up late for the first couple of meetings. He forgets to bring critical documents with him to the meetings and appears stressed out and disorganized. He forgets things you’ve already discussed. While with you, he gets (and takes!) two to three phone calls and engages in what sounds like serious problem resolution for some other poor slob’s home.
I don’t care how FANTASTIC his website is, his Shock-And-Awe materials are, his brochure, etc., etc., etc. ALL of that goes right out the window because the manner in which you see him conducting himself SCREAMS incompetence.
So goes it for you. If you get a prospect meeting due to the “Bad Date” letter, but then don’t answer your phones live, call the prospect back immediately on your cell phone, fumble around awkwardly with answers to questions about what you do, show up a little bit late for the appointment, have marketing materials that look cobbled together from whatever you could scrounge at OfficeMax and then wing it in the sales presentation, you are HORRIBLY incongruent with the marketing message.
A shameless plug: invest in my Sales-A-Palooza (Sales-A-Palooza.com) program and get a PROCESS in place to deliver a sales presentation that sets you apart from your competition and erases the UNTRUST factor.
3. Have marketing material that an authority expert would have, not a sales guy.
A salesperson has a brochure– an expert has a book (or reports, white papers, research, etc.). A sales guy lets a prospect “Chinese menu” the solution and caves on fees and terms. The expert says, “My way or the highway,” but not in an arrogant way – you simply sense that from their authoritative delivery of the solution. A sales guy is squeamish about price, avoiding that conversation altogether UNTIL the prospect demands an answer. Then they become visibly uncomfortable or belligerent and appear HUGELY uncomfortable and uncertain. The expert brings price up FIRST and states it as though it’s normal and customary. An expert shows up in a suit or (at least) jacket and slacks. Sales guys show up in polo shirts with logos on them (so do techs).
Hopefully you’re still reading and not hiding under a blanket somewhere. If you have questions about Sales-A-Palooza or any of our other resources that will turn your business from a nightmare to a fairy tale, go to www.technologymarketingtoolkit.com/consult/.
Come back next week for another hair-raising tale!