This article is written by Odile Faludi, Kickstarting Customer Conversations Specialist, Business Development Consultant and a Career Money Life Certified Supplier. You can view the original article on Odile’s website.
Prospecting and working in sales is very much like living each day over and over again until you get it right. Having had the honour to work with so many sales professionals over many years I see the same issues over and over again. Starting the month from zero; missing out on deals; always striving for that incentive or extra commission cheque. Sales professionals require a mental attitude like no other profession.
Here are Odile’s top 10 Prospecting Tips to ensure your seeds of conversation always grow in favourable conditions and sales improve:
- Timing is everything in prospecting. Take an educated guess when would be the right time to start a meaningful conversation with your prospect. Do your research and relevance piece prior to picking up the phone and understand what current challenges your customer could possibly be facing.
- Set the tone of the conversation starting in a positive manner. What’s the difference between a good movie and a brilliant movie … the script. Ensure you have given adequate thought as to what you are going to say. The best test is to see if you can explain why you are calling in less than 15 seconds. Role-playing is imperative prior to talking to a potential customer. Better to look like a fool in front of a colleague rather than burn a lead.
- Does your opening sentence have a hook?Will the listener feel compelled to turn off their inner critic and open their inner coach to give consideration to your introduction? People are not interested in what they already know. Tell them something they don’t know and something that is relevant to them. Start with “Are you aware?”, “Did you know?” make it so compelling so they really have to listen to you!
- Choose to drip feed the information you wish to share into easily digestible bite-size pieces. Don’t try to shove a whole lot of dialogue down in one scoop just because you wrote it down on your piece of paper. Really poor salespeople keep talking even though they have no captive audience. People like to taste the flavours of your conversation especially if it has piqued their interest. So keep the sentences simple and short. Drop any unnecessary words that say absolutely nothing.
- Don’t overload your opening conversation with too many mixed messages. Most relationships are built on many encounters. Any more than three punchy bits of highly targeted information in one phone conversation will be lost. Most people haven’t got the brain capacity to take in more.
- Have a list of suitable questions ready to progress the prospecting call. This is a very important part of being a great communicator. By exploring your prospect’s needs you have the benefit of understanding their aspirations and then hopefully being in a position to offer something which meets their desires.
- Really mindfully listen to your customer’s responses to your questions. Write down exactly what they have said, “in their words.” Then when you respond or send a follow-up email sprinkle their keywords back into your conversation. This highlights to the customer you listened and care. Mirror what you hear!
- When your prospect asks you a question …pause … repeat the question “out loud” to ensure you heard it correctly … then answer. Now that everybody speaks on mobile phones, in their car and on the go, often it is noisy in the background. Listening has taken on a whole new meaning with many competing factors. Always ensure your response matches the question – it avoids embarrassment and keeps the conversation focused.
- Just be yourself, everyone else is taken. Show off who you are and back yourself 100%. Believe in your product or service and the conversation will flow. If you don’t believe in what you are peddling, I suggest you peddle something else. You will never make a good living out of selling something you wouldn’t buy.
- Always finish every prospect conversation with a call to action ie. a scheduled meeting or a follow-up email. Don’t leave a conversation without a next step. Always say thank you for taking my call, I appreciate your time. Being humble and respectful is very attractive.
I am throwing in one more point … just to highlight how much I want you all to succeed. Soften your attitude and you will find people will listen harder to you. Use phrases such as, “I’m beginning to wonder if…” or “I’ve talked to three of our clients who think that”; and “In my opinion” … do you get my drift? Your soft approach is endearing.
Plant many seeds as some will take longer to flourish than others. Some will not survive the storms or withstand droughts. The more seeds you plant and continually water the higher chance of sales success. As they say, the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it. Therefore, your rich conversations in the fullness of time should reap many financial and professional benefits.
Finally, “It takes determination to speak your own voice. The pressures that arise both from within yourself and from your organisation often seemed designed to sap your energy. The antidote is self- trust. Only as you learn to take seriously the possibility that what you think might be in fact valid for others do you find the backbone and confidence to share it.” William Isaacs