Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Science of Sales - How to Prospect Professionally

It was a busy Wednesday and I received a call from a Sales Manager from a software company who is prospecting me and called me for a sales appointment. His purpose of calling me is to meet me. When I asked for what purpose? He said, "I want to meet you to find out more about your business." I replied, "Ok, understood and for what purpose?" and he got stucked with no answer. 

I asked him, "Is that all? Is this how you sell? What is your results?". This guy became very uncomfortable and started apologising. 

Folks, if you are out there to create value for the world, selling is a skill you must constantly develop! Always research the person, company or industry before you call them and "KNOW WHY" you are calling them. Don't waste people's time! 

When you call a Prospect, communicate the intention of your call, request for meeting and share how you have helped people or companies in the past and if you could be of assistance to them. If they say no interest at the moment, thank them and send them a thank you email or a thank you greeting card. 

How to Have a Meaningful Sales Call?

1. Know "Why" you're having the conversation.

Every conversation must have a point, or else, what's the point of having it? *duh* 

With friends and family, the "point" is often to simply enjoy each other's company. You already know how to do that. So, relax and have fun but if it's a business call, be purposeful in the call. Set the objective and provide value. 

In business / office, though, there's always an agenda to every conversation, even if it seems as if the conversation is only to "get to know" you better (or vice-versa), until such time as your co-worker becomes a friend or a family member.

Therefore, whenever you start a conversation in the office (and this includes customers, bosses, colleagues, and the auntie who cleans the office and clear your paper bin), have an explicit goal in mind. That way you're less likely to waste time and energy.

Similarly, if somebody opens a conversation with you, it's worthwhile to wonder why the conversation is happening and why now. It's not worth obsessing about it, but if you've got a sense of the "why" it's easier to get "where" the conversation needs to go.

2. Ignore your "Monkey mind" (Mr. Yadaa-Yadaa).

The ancient Chinese believed everyone has a "monkey mind" that jumps from thought to thought, like so:

"Eh, what is she thinking about me?"
"Errrr...will I make this sale?"
"What if I can't pay the rent next month?"
"Gosh! That wallpaper is ugly."
"I've got to get the airport in two hours."

This constant mental noise pulls your attention away from the customer and towards your own perspectives, priorities and goals.

If you listen to your "monkey mind," you'll only hear a percentage of what the other person is saying. In all likelihood, you'll misunderstand and misremember what was said.

3. Acknowledge What You've Heard.

When the other person has finished speaking, re-describe, and characterize what the other person just said. This confirms that you were really listening to the other person, rather than your internal dialog ("monkey mind").

It also prevents you from continuing the conversation based upon a misunderstanding. The restatement gives the other person an opportunity to correct your perception or elaborate as necessary to make sure that you "get it."

4. Think and Then Respond.

Pause a moment to consider what you heard and have echoed back. Respond with a statement, story, or question that adds to the conversation and moves it closer to its point and purpose.

Having this kind of conversation is both difficult and easy. It's difficult because some people's "monkey minds" are the size of King Kong and chatter so loudly that they can't hear anything else.

However, once you've learned to ignore the chatter, this way of listening, reflecting, and talking quickly becomes second nature. And that's the easy part.

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