3 Things to Consider when using LinkedIn for ProspectingNovember 24, 2018
How to Ruin Your First Prospect Meeting!December 1, 2018
In the last week, I’ve been sent around 10 emails telling me to 'get prepared for 2019' and I myself have also encouraged those I work with to be prepared to get the new year off to a good start. Being prepared doesn't just mean setting a target though, preparation in sales comes in 3 other key areas if we want real sustained success. None of us can look into the future but there are so many aspects of how we get results in sales which are based on good preparation.
Sales Preparation Tip Number 1:
The first tip relates to when you meet with a prospect for the first time. What research and activity do you do ahead of a call or meeting for the first time? How much time do you spend looking at the background of the person you are meeting or the company they work for? As I discussed in last week's video, I have a lot of people approach me (especially on LinkedIn) that have no idea about what I’m doing at the moment and who have not spent any time to research me or look at what I am doing now. I get quite a lot of requests and questions which relates to the company I founded (InTouchCRM), rather than what I’m doing with James White Sales Success. One quick glance at my page should be a clue as to what my area of focus is at the moment!
Not doing your research on who you are meeting or speaking with before you engage with them in sales is unforgivable. If you go into a sales call or meeting with someone and you have no idea about who they are or what their company does then you are potentially putting the whole sales opportunity at risk. It is not always possible to find out details on every person as some don't have social media profiles but many now have a LinkedIn profile and so you can use this to see their past career history and even what articles they are commenting on. Not being prepared means you miss the chance to make a strong first impression and we all know how vital that is to build rapport and trust. Not preparing will make you look slack and come across as someone that doesn't really care about the prospect and is only there to serve their own interests. Put yourself in the prospect's shoes. If someone came to you and tried to sell you something but had no idea who you were or what you did, how would that make you feel? I bet it won't make you feel great and it will make you wonder, if this is how they present themselves now, how will they be once they have won my business? Be prepared for the calls and meetings you have with new prospects. It's point number 1 in the video I share here! Click and watch to see what the other 7 are.
Sales Preparation Tip Number 2:
The second tip regarding sales preparation is what are you going to say and how are you going to approach the conversation and discussion with the prospect. Are you going to wing it, or do you think it could help to be prepared ahead of the call and know what you are going to say? Many people see scripts in sales as being a bad thing. I disagree. Scripts are great when used in the right way. Who is your favourite actress or actor? Scarlett Johansson or Angelina Jolie? George Clooney or Chris Hemsworth? Do these guys sound scripted when they talk on stage or screen? The answer is no because they have practised and prepared for their movie in advance… and sales is just the same. Sales people that read out a script without practising sound awful but salespeople who practice what they are going to say and who PREPARE effectively for their calls with a script or script framework get better results. Scripts give you structure and a platform on which to have a good conversation with a prospect. It allows you to drive conversations in the direction you want and if created properly will allow you to handle challenges and queries which come up. They allow you to know what to say if someone is not able to take your call now or how to move the conversation on from the initial starting point. I get asked whether scripts should be used in face to face meetings or when you meet a prospect for the 2nd time. The answer in both cases is whilst you may not have a word for word outline of what you are going to say, having a framework for the meeting or discussion is vital. Knowing what you want to achieve from the meeting, and how we can direct the prospect through to this stage is key. You might say to me, James I am not a salesperson, I am just a business person who tries to sell what my company does. If this is the case, then you have a greater need to get a script in place. When the conversations you have with prospects are prepared and sound natural with good, thought-provoking questions being used then it will make a massive difference to your sales efforts. Being prepared when it comes to sales is essential if you want to do things that will get you success. Basic scripts and frameworks are key to this.
Sales Preparation Tip Number 3:
The third and final sales preparation tip relates to objections. I was with a client this week and we were talking through some of the most common objections that they get when they present with prospects about what they do. We worked on some objection overviews so that when the client says, "I don’t have the budget for this", they have a response they can use that will take on board the objection, qualify it and then allow the conversation to move forward without losing the momentum. Being able to handle an objection effectively only comes as a result of preparation. Most salespeople when they get an objection get flustered and let the objection derail their call or meeting. They panic about what to say and in most cases end up saying something which doesn't make sense or try to end the call there and then. It's a natural reaction which we are programmed as humans for. Our brains go into 'fight or flight mode' when someone says something we don't like or when they respond in a negative way. We want to get away from that situation and so more often than not we choose the flight option. Those who are prepared however know how to handle the objections. They know that instead of panicking, they need to qualify the objection and really see if that’s a problem for the prospect or if the objection is just a smokescreen for something else. How many times do you walk into a shop needing something but when a sales assistant says 'can I help you', you say 'no thanks'? We all reject and say no initially and yet in many cases we do need the help. Those who have prepared and practised for objections are able to handle the situation and ensure that the conversation takes the direction they want. The majority of objections that companies get are the same and so if you know you are going to get the same objections and responses, doesn't it make sense to be PREPARED to deal with these?
I hope that these 3 tips outline why you should be prepared when it comes to sales. You have a choice to make. Wing it or prepare for it! I have done both and I know which achieves the best results in sales conversations!
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