Friday, October 10, 2008

Give Your Prospect a Way Out

I have always hated cold calling. Yes, I use to be one of those people who would try to put a good face on it and claim that I loved to cold call. But in reality, I never liked it and always believed there were better methods to get new customers.

There are times, however, where cold calling is still applicable. Sometimes you will run into a prospect that is a known purchaser of your products or services. If no other method of introduction is available, a cold call will most likely be your only avenue of attack.

If I get the opportunity to speak with the decision maker, my conversation will include a way out for the prospect if they are not interested. While most people in the sales world believe this is a bad idea, I believe it is extremely important to find out immediately if a sale has a reasonable expectation of taking place. Wasting time on prospects who will never buy is the #1 reason why people do not succeed in sales. Let me say this once again, wasting time on prospects who will never buy is the #1 reason why people do not succeed in sales.

While making the first face-to-face contact with the primary decision maker, my conversation usually will follow as listed below:

Me: "Bill, my name is Will Fultz and I'm a representative of XYZ widgets. I do quite of bit of business with companies just like yours. Part of my mission is reaching out to companies that don't do business with us, and today I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself to let you know there is another option out there."

Prospect: "Well, we do purchase quite a bit of widgets. We have been purchasing from ABC widgets for quite some time and have been happy with their service."

Me: "That's fine, I understand how important great business relationships are. I have quite a few of them myself. I certainly don't want to waste your time or try to break-up your relationship with ABC widgets. If you don't want me to come back around, that's no problem and I won't come back to interrupt your day again."

There is the out, but here is what will transpire if the prospect has some interest.

Prospect: "Well, do you guys carry the express widget, this is what we mainly use. I wouldn't mind looking over your product along with pricing."

Alright, now we have a prospect that has returned some interest to our cold call. This possible sale is still a long way from taking place, but the prospect has opened the door far enough for you to call on him. You have now also picked up the critical information needed to make the sale. You know the current vendor, main product that is being used, the decision maker, and you have generated some interest. The known product or service that is being used can now be investigated to be picked apart for you own profit-justified proposal.

However, at this point there are still several seperate motives that your prospect might have. Your prospect might be wanting a product with pricing to negotiate with his current vendor. The credit situation with the company is also unknown, so a new vendor with a fresh line of credit might be needed (meaning you might not get paid or this company might get turned down for credit). Additionally, the prospect might just want to see what is out there but has no real interest in ever buying from you. You must assume that all three of these motives are in the mix and be on the lookout for signs that these things are happening.

At the end of this cold call, you have now managed to at least somewhat qualify your prospect. There is still a lot of work ahead to get the business, but you now have the critical information to move forward in advancing the sales process. Isn't this truth finding way of cold calling much better than hearing the typical misleading responses from prospects that cause a loss of your time?

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