No one is going to claim that prospecting is glamorous. It’s not. It’s systematic. Step one is creating a successful strategy. Step two is identifying valuable sources. Step three is fine tuning who your ideal prospects are. Not to mention developing an impactful value message and the process of delivering that message.
That’s a lot, of course, but the hard work’s not over after you master the steps, because you’re still at risk for roadblocks and objections. Prospecting is groundwork and doesn’t lead to a deal; what you’re selling at this stage is a first meeting. And rather than beat the prospect over the head with the hard sell, tread lightly and talk yourself into that initial meeting.
Below are examples of common scenarios sales reps face during the prospecting phase—and strategic ways to keep at least part of your foot in the door.
Does this sound familiar: “Check back with me in a couple of months.” That’s about as sincere as “It’s not you, it’s me.” The prospect doesn’t literally mean circle back to them in the future; it’s just a built-in excuse for getting rid of you. But where there’s a will, there’s a way to respond effectively to that age-old brush-off.
Put the prospect at ease by letting them know you’re not reaching out to a have a buying conversation, but that instead you simply want a few minutes of their time in order to determine what their pain points are. Say something along the lines of: “Looks like I caught you at a bad time. I know you’re busy and I’d like to schedule a quick call at your convenience just to get a handle on some of the challenges you’re facing and how we may be able to help. If we determine there isn’t any value we can provide you, you won’t have to worry about us following up with you next month.”
Here’s the prospect’s line: “We use product X and are happy with what we already have.” What might be behind this standard “door in the face” is the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s a hectic world and, like nearly everyone, prospects are busy and feel oppressed by the notion of making a change in mid-stream.
Be sure to respond that you don’t want to disrupt their work routine. And while you momentarily have their attention, suggest that getting a second opinion adds value and options. Don’t commit the sin of selling out the competition; putting them down makes you look negative. You don’t want the takeaway to be “They stink, and we stink less!” Rather, position yourself as an attractive alternative.
No Budging on the Budget
Dig deeper into what it means when the prospect says, “We don’t have a budget for this.” Gaining a clear understanding of their financial picture, you can position your solution as a money saver. Be clear that you’re not expecting them to buy right now, but that you’re interested in dialoguing about how your products and services are designed to build out the future, saving money and resources in the long game.
Your response could go something like this: “My objective is not to sell anything at this point, I am looking for the opportunity to share with you what we’re doing and see if we would be a fit. We may be able to even save you money overall by streamlining some of your processes.”
Oh the Frustration!
You’re probably no stranger to the line “We get calls like this all the time.” That doesn’t have to kill your attempt. Acknowledging their frustration. At the same time, keep your foot over the threshold by establishing credibility.
As a response, say something along the lines of “I hear you, and I don’t want to be just another salesperson taking up your time and bothering you. We successfully support many organizations in your space and I’m confident we can benefit you too. If sharing valuable insights into what we do is worth a few minutes of your time, I’d appreciate it if you could pencil me in for a brief meeting at your convenience.”
In sales, no door is really closed if you have the key words to open it. Just speak clearly and put down the big stick.