Think about it. How would you react as a business person of a company receiving a phone call from a sales person saying: “….I thought I drop by to introduce myself, I am in the area next week Tuesday and Wednesday, whatever suits you best”? What would your first reaction be?
Put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes. Your contact probably already has a relationship with someone who sells what you sell— in their eyes creating value for them, and the company he or she represents (your competitor) may be considered a strategic partner. So meeting with you may seem like a waste of time.
Furthermore, your contact probably has a very limited amount of time. To stay ahead in business every company has gone leaner, and every manager has to do more and produce better results with fewer resources. They are pressed for time and can’t keep up with their workload. So your contact will need a very compelling reason to agree to give you some of their precious time; “Dropping by” or “checking in” do not sound like very convincing reasons.
It’s time to reverse-engineer your first call or next meeting. What would it take to get their commitment to meet with you? What would go through their head, what would they think about when you are calling? Probably something similar like:
- Please don’t waste my time. IF I meet with you, I need to gain something in return.
- Please don’t give me a standard sales pitch. I have heard these so many times before.
- Please come prepared. You need to know what we do, who we competing with, maybe challenges we face in our industry
- Please come with something I don’t know. Share some knowledge, insights, ideas that spark my interest or are useful to know.
Wow. If this is what they are thinking why don’t we open our calls or next meetings proactively meeting these expectations? For example:
“Hi Barbara, I am calling to ask you for a twenty-minute meeting to share with you four trends that put the brakes on businesses like yourself to grow faster and slowing down their costs. Whether or not you ever do business with us, I will share insights we have noticed with similar businesses like you and how they are dealing with these trends. I promise, I only need twenty minutes and I won’t waste one minute of your time.”
Fill in your own variation. Ensure you meet the above four expectations of your potential customer.
You have asked for time to share ideas and insights you have noticed with similar customers and is relevant to their business. You come across as a person worth knowing and certainly stand out from your competitor sales colleagues by not promising a standard sales pitch. You promise to share trends, ideas, insights – this is only possible if you are prepared. And lastly, you promised your willingness to offer valuable advice, whether or not they decide to take a next step with you.
Practice your own variation. What do you have to lose?
Close the call with promising your potential customer to send them an Agenda. Make sure you leave room on your agenda for your customer to discuss anything they feel worthwhile sharing. By reverse-engineering your call or next meeting you are already a step ahead of your competitor sales reps. Now, don’t spoil it by starting the gained meeting asking the same questions that every salesperson before you has asked, like, “How long have you been here?” or “What keep you awake all night?”. Don’t waste that time. Remind your contact of your agenda, let them know what you hope the next steps will be, and begin sharing the value-creating information you promised.
Are you excited? I am!
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