I was recently at a meeting about sales efficiency where a debate broke out about what salespeople should do when a prospect says, “I’ll think about it.” Participants were divided. Some felt that this meant that the selling process was not complete and they should continue to engage the prospect. Others strongly believed that once a prospect tells you “I’ll think about it,” they should move to the next prospect. I firmly believe you should move on.
As a professional salesperson, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with prospects over the years. Because I’m focused on my sales objective and the need to be efficient with my time, it’s critical to know when to move on. We all know that we should not rush to close a prospect. We all know that we should be looking for signs to disqualify a prospect throughout the discussion. When these signs appear early, perhaps it’s easier to recognize that the prospect is not a fit for our solution and end the discussion. But when the signs show up later, they can be more difficult to recognize, perhaps because we are more emotionally invested. But that verbal message, “I’ll think about it” is a clear red flag to me. To confirm whether it’s really time to move on, I might ask, “Is there anything else I can tell you?”, and if the prospect says “yes,” I will address the question. But if the answer is “no,” then it’s clearly time for me to move on.
Why move on? Continuing to sell to a person who is telling you that they need to think about it after you’ve had robust discussions delays you from moving to a prospect that you might be able to more readily convert. Frankly, “I’ll think about it” is really the kiss of death. Experience tells me that this prospect is not likely to make a positive decision and I would be wasting time continuing the conversation.
You may be thinking, ‘well I’ve spent all of this time getting to know this prospect and I hate to let it drop.’ But that is not what you should do. You should move the prospect into a nurturing program with a plan to revisit them at some point to see if conditions have changed.
It might be very attractive to continue discussions with someone with whom you’ve already developed a relationship in the hope that they will convert. But you really are fooling yourself. We need to be clear-eyed about what’s going on in a sales engagement. Ideally, we never ask for the sale until the time is right. At that point, if they say they still need to “think about it,” it’s time to gracefully move on.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love selling and we are experts at sales and cold calling, in particular. If you would like to discuss how we can help you and your team please contact us at 908-879-2911.
A quiz for you:
Communicating your expertise and product knowledge to your prospect leads to a successful sale:
I came across this question in a session with a world-class expert in the Sandler selling method. This is one that can spark a lot of debate.
I’m aware that many salespeople are trained to be product experts. In fact, product or service training may be the lion’s share of the formal training that they receive from their company. Often, salespeople are coached to share their knowledge in order to establish their expertise with a prospect. This might be because the business perceives that the offering is so differentiated that once a prospect fully understands it they will jump at the opportunity. So, an encyclopedic knowledge of the offering and the ability to communicate it is often perceived as a major sales success factor for a salesperson.
However, consider the problems that could arise with this approach. What if we miss something critical because we are so busy “communicating” about our offering? When we first meet with a prospect, I believe it’s important to let the prospect communicate with us. What are their current issues? Why are they even talking to us about our offering? What problems are they trying to solve? If we move into “presentation mode” without knowing the answers to these questions, we risk losing the prospect’s attention by not addressing their core concerns. In order to get at these concerns, we need to take the time to ask the right questions and then engage in active listening so that the prospect can communicate with us and so that we can internalize what they are saying. We need a two-way conversation and, particularly early in the discussion, it’s ideal if the prospect does most of the talking. This is where we learn what we need to know in order to confirm if they are a good fit for our solution and then close the sale.
So what’s my answer to this question?
False: I’ve concluded that product knowledge and expertise aren’t enough to close the sale.
- Avoid getting into the “nuts and bolts” of a product presentation immediately with a prospect.
- Slow down and take the time to get to know prospects in order to learn what motivates them.
When you truly understand their situation, you can then start to use your understanding of your offering to highlight how your solution will make a real difference for them. In my experience, taking this approach will improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love to sell and are lifelong learners when it comes to selling. Cold calling is our specialty. If your business needs help with getting appointments with qualified prospects, give us a call at 908-879-2911.
As business owners, we all want to grow by winning new clients. But many of us find it difficult to “convert” new opportunities into paying clients. This leads to frustration.
In my 20+ years of experience as a sales professional, I’ve observed that many business owners meet prospects and then immediately move forward to “sell” without taking a pause and assessing what needs to happen next. They don’t actively manage the selling process. There are four actions you can take to help increase your sales efficiency.
Step 1—Talk to the Real Decision Maker
There is nothing more frustrating than discovering that you’ve walked through an entire sales process only to discover that your prospect needs to bring in another party who will ultimately make the decision. The step of confirming that your contact is the real decision maker is often overlooked. We get excited over the prospect of new business with a long-sought company and it’s easy to assume that our contact holds more power than they do.
Make sure you explore the company’s decision-making process with the person who is your contact. Be prepared to say you can only go so far in the process without having the ultimate decision makers involved. Your likelihood of getting to a commitment is greater when you speak directly to the decision maker(s).
Questions you can ask to move this along are:
- What is the decision-making process for services or products like mine?
- Who else will be part of the decision making?
- Are there other major stakeholders who would be involved in the decision?
Step 2—Ensure Your Solution is Relevant
It’s better to learn quickly if there is no current opportunity with a target company rather than to invest your time selling to someone who doesn’t need or value the solution you offer. Once you confirm that you have a relevant solution, take time to understand how the problem has impacted their business. This allows you to adjust your discussion to speak directly to their experiences. It may feel unnatural to not push to a close immediately upon confirming their need. But if you invest your time in this dialogue, your prospects may actually sell themselves. They are reminding themselves why they should be talking to you. And they realize that you are listening to them. This makes them more amenable to moving forward.
Ask the following questions:
- How has this problem affected your business? And for how long?
- What resources has this problem consumed? What did it cost you?
- What have you already done to address it?
Step 3—Seek Confirmation Along the Way
Throughout the discussion, make sure that you are getting mini buy-ins. Check for agreement at key points, ideally using open-ended questions. Don’t wait until the end of your presentation to ask their opinion. This way, you’ll be able to assess your prospect’s level of engagement, confirm their interest, and address potential objections as they occur. Moreover, this approach will ensure that this is a two-way conversation.
Use these prompting questions:
- How consistent is this with what you experienced?
- What are your thoughts on this?
- How does this sound to you?
Step 4—Let Your Personality Shine Through
Throughout the engagement, never forget that “people buy from other people.” Let your personality shine through! If you are staying true to steps 1 though 3, your empathy for their situation will be apparent and you’ll build credibility and trust. Ultimately, you want your prospects to feel good and look forward to working with you.
Getting to the Close
Using this approach, the natural outcome of a discussion between you and your prospect is to move to a proposal.
- You are talking to the right person.
- You know they have a problem that you can solve.
- They’ve validated for themselves that they have this need.
- They know that you have a deep understanding of their situation.
By the time you get to this point, your prospect should have reached the unavoidable conclusion that your solution is just what their business needs.
Here’s the final piece of “magic”—if you’ve taken these steps, once you are ready to close, you can simply ask, “What would you like to happen next?”
When you get your next opportunity, take a step back, consider this guidance, and see what happens.
If your business is facing sales-related challenges, please reach out to us at 908-879-2911. At One of a Kind Sales, we are experts in sales and we particularly love cold calling. We look forward to speaking with you!
This article, written by Nancy Calabrese of One of a Kind Sales, originally appeared in The Bottom Line, No. 3: 2022, the quarterly newsletter of NJAWBO, New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners.
Recently, I had a discussion with a sales leader who told me that she believes her success – and that of her team – is primarily determined by the sales compensation plan. While this may play a strong role, in my experience, sales leaders need to engage in three critical activities beyond compensation and incentives to be effective. These include: having good goals and metrics; hiring and retaining the right sales team members; and providing ongoing coaching, training, and mentoring to the team.
Goals and Metrics
Understanding how your team is performing relative to expectations is critical to identifying where the focus needs to be placed. We’re all familiar with the acronym “SMART” when it comes to defining your goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. As an example of a SMART goal, at One of a Kind Sales, we require each sales team member to make 20 calls per hour.
In addition, a good CRM is critical to tracking performance goals versus metrics. While a CRM may be an investment for your organization, being able to easily track performance gives you the opportunity to assess and make adjustments as needed.
The Right Team
Working with team members who have a passion for their work is important. As a sales leader, you need to be able to assess whether an individual demonstrates that passion and is a good fit for your team. For example, at One of a Kind Sales, we value sales training and coaching. Our team members need to love learning and have a desire to continuously improve their sales skills. We also value sharing key learnings based on experiences with prospects as well as sharing success stories. We look for that willingness to share in our candidates.
Once you have the right team, keeping the team ‘on point’ with strong sales skills is critical. By investing in ongoing sales training, you strengthen the capabilities of your sales team and improve their ability to reach and potentially exceed sales goals. If individuals are identified as underperformers, sales training and coaching may help them correct their course. If not, it’s important to determine whether or not they should be in that role. In addition, when your team sees that you are investing in their skills, it demonstrates that you are interested in their personal development and increases their commitment to the job.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love selling and we are experts at cold calling, in particular. If you would like to discuss how we can help you and your team please contact us at 908-879-2911.
For many inexperienced salespeople, the first thing they think about when it comes to selling a product or service is the fact that they will hear objections. They dread the word “no” and try to avoid objections even when they can clearly see that they exist. They view objections as a minefield which must be avoided. They plow ahead with their pitch hoping they’ll say some magic words that will make them evaporate. Unfortunately, they most often experience the unaddressed concerns rising up at some point and ‘tanking’ the sale.
Our One of a Kind sales team has completed thousands of cold calls. And there is no doubt that salespeople will hear the word “no” many times. But in our experience, we find it best to acknowledge a prospect’s objections and quickly determine whether they can be overcome. When you can overcome them, you can proceed with a greater likelihood of success. If you can’t, you then move on to another prospect quickly.
Disrupt the Pattern
Cold calls have a typical flow. The way this happens may vary but at the end of a preliminary introduction, our team members may say something like, “how does that sound to you?” It is at this point when the prospect might say, “I’m fine – I don’t need anything.” That is a “no.” The prospect’s expectation is that the salesperson will say “thanks for your time” and end the call. This is the normal “pattern” of a sales call. But our professional selling team is prepared with rebuttals that disrupt the typical pattern.
A disruptive response to a “no” might be, “Wow, how did you manage to avoid this problem?” What this approach does is keep the conversation going. Follow up questions could be: “Can you tell me how you did that?” or “How long did that take?” Followed by “I guess you must be hitting your revenue target then.” Moving further with “Would you like to improve that performance?”
You’ve read before that we believe in using scripts because they help us internalize our messaging. Because we prepare in advance, we have an arsenal of rebuttals at the ready. So, when the “no” happens, while it may be disconcerting, we don’t have to “figure out” what to say next.
Three Times is Enough
We adopt approach of using three rebuttals to a “no.” The rebuttals are statements we’ve prepared in advance (incorporated into our script) based on the objections we anticipate. Once we’ve had three unsuccessful attempts at this, we know it’s time to move on. We conclude the interaction, and we actually ask for a referral. For example, we’ll say, “it’s clear we can’t help you today, but perhaps we can in the future. Is there anyone else in your sphere of influence who might be able to benefit from our services?” You’d be surprised – we do get referrals in this way!
At One of a Kind Sales, we are sales experts, and we love cold calling! If you need help taking your sales team to the next level, give us a call at 908-879-2911 to learn how we can help.
One of the most challenging parts of selling is cold calling. Like all of us, salespeople dislike rejection and don’t want to hear the word “no.” And many have never been trained how to do cold calling. As a result, many salespeople find cold calling intimidating. Aside from the fear of rejection, there is a concern that they are “interrupting” someone to make a pitch. But as professional salespeople, they need to keep in mind that the person on the other end of the call may have a need for the potential solution they offer. If the prospect sees that value in having their problem solved, it is well worth the interruption.
In a recent Zoom Info article, cold calling was deemed “very to extremely effective” by almost 30% of professional salespeople. Also, it was reported that almost 70% of buyers accept cold calls. Given these statistics, it’s clear that cold calling presents a real opportunity to prospect for new business. In our experience as professional cold callers, once our callers reach their targeted prospects, most of them get the opportunity to make their initial case without the call terminating before that point.
What goes into making cold calling more effective? I believe preparation is critical to success. Below are just some of the steps we take to make our cold calling as efficient as it can be.
- The call list should be targeted to the segment you are pursuing. This ensures that your offering is relevant to the prospects you are pursuing.
- Develop a script that lays out what you want to communicate. Don’t repeat the script word for word. Use it to internalize your message. This prepares you to be able to say exactly what you want to say the moment you get the opportunity to connect. You’ll only have seconds to make an impression.
- Check your mindset. Think of yourself as an equal to the prospect you want to connect with. Remember they have a problem, and you have a solution.
- Make sure the purpose of your call is clear to the prospect, so they understand how what you are calling about is relevant to their business.
- Remember this is a dialogue. Let the prospect speak. This is when you’ll learn whether there is an opportunity for your solution now.
- Every time you speak to the prospect remember you are establishing a relationship – one that will earn you the right to speak to them again, whether for a follow up appointment if there is a current opportunity, or for a check-in several months from now if there isn’t a current need.
If your team can incorporate this approach, it can help take cold calling outreach to the next level and bring in new opportunities for growth.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love cold calling! If you need help implementing cold calling within your sales team, give us a call at 908-879-2911 to learn how we can help.