Going For Gold
To succeed in sales you need to start by drawing up an accurate profile of your target…
In this extract from Turn Cold Calling into Gold Calling author Clive Price unpacks the first steps in overcoming your fear of cold calling by identifying the right prospects.
Playing the stock markets is fraught with danger and instils terror into even the strongest players, but the thought of success and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow keep many people engaged in this endeavour. The same dream of gold is what motivates companies to engage in the equally terrifying endeavour of cold calling, but the difference is – in this case it doesn’t need to be terrifying.
Ask the average salesperson what sales technique they fear the most, and the answer is usually cold calling and the fear of rejection. So why are salespeople scared to use this technique? The simple answer is that cold calling is difficult. So the easiest way to deal with it is to avoid it. In his book Turn Cold Calling into Gold Calling, Clive Price, MD of the Peer Group, outlines his tried-and-tested methods to overcome this fear and make successful cold calls. The Peer Group has helped thousands of salespeople end their fear of cold calling by eliminating these psychological barriers and busting the myths that underpin their fears.
Winning gold in a sport or creative pursuit requires discipline and effort. But all winners will tell you that they follow a process and believe that they will succeed. It isn’t a dark art and it doesn’t involve alchemy; there are a few secrets we can share to help you become a winner and go for gold.
Gary Player (the legendary South African golfer, who at the age of 29 became the third man in history to win the coveted Grand Slam) once said, “The harder you work the luckier you get,” and this is true, but in the sales field we will show you that, “The smarter you work, the luckier you get!”
To Find Gold, You’ve Got To Look In The Right Place
Profiling your prospect is one of the most important links in the chain of sales. You can be the best salesperson in the world, but if you are talking to the wrong person, you are just wasting your time. Qualifying techniques are probably the most important part of the sales process.
Most salespeople try to close the wrong people, often too hard, and then complain they can’t close deals. The problem lies with qualifying, not closing. How much time are you wasting talking to the wrong people? Time is the one resource that you have the most control over and it is also the one that is the most easily squandered.
For most salespeople, there are more potential customers, or suspects, in their territory than they will ever have time to contact. And, as we know, time is money. Qualifying techniques are simply the methods that you use to determine who to sell to. Who qualifies for the expenditure of your most precious resource – your time? The best sales qualifying techniques are as follows:
- Draw up a profile of your ideal customer.
- List a set of criteria that suspects must meet before you choose them to become your prospect.
Here are some examples: Potential, Size, Competition, Product/Service Fit, Speed and Lead Times.
- Create a proven sales system or process so you can assess how your prospects are moving into your sales pipeline.
When you qualify using an ideal customer profile, you are more likely to get the kind of prospects that you want. A set of criteria shows you who to choose. This will tell you whether or not you should invest your time and resources on this prospect. A sales system will enable you to rapidly qualify or disqualify prospects in or out of your sales pipeline. Follow these rules and you’ll sell more, with less effort.
The Power Of Questioning And Listening
Research shows that simply offering information, ideas and opinions has a low impact on people and rarely succeeds. It is difficult to talk people into accepting your point of view. It’s much more effective to ask questions that allow them to talk themselves into acceptance. It also shows that you understand your customer’s point of view.
If you go to a doctor and say, “Doctor I’ve got terrible stomach cramps,” and he opens his drawer, hands you a bottle of pills and says, “Take these and you will be ok” what will you do? You will never go back to that doctor because he obviously needs to make a diagnosis first before he can prescribe medicine.
The same principle applies when dealing with prospects. You do not tell them how great your product/service is and ramble on before you have made an accurate diagnosis of their actual need or problem. Apply this to a sales situation, and ask effective questions to accurately diagnose what the exact underlying cause or problem is that needs resolution.
The Acid Test
- Paraphrase your customer’s words: Customers are only sure that you have been listening when you paraphrase what they have said and feed it back using their words. This is one of the deep secrets to selling more successfully.
- Question for clarification: When the prospect has finished explaining his or her situation to you, and you have paused, and then questioned for clarification, you paraphrase the prospect’s primary thoughts and concerns, and feed them back to him or her using their words.
- Use the right words: For example, you might say, “Let me make sure I understand exactly what you are saying. It sounds to me like you are concerned about two things more than anything else and that in the past you have had a couple of experiences that have made you very careful in approaching a decision of this kind. Is that correct?” Remember, if they say it, it’s true. If you say it, there’s room for doubt.
At A Glance
To be successful in prospecting you must first identify suspects and then decide whether they qualify as your prospects. This may sound arrogant but that doesn’t matter – you are a valuable professional business partner, so take your time very seriously.
One way is to ask yourself where you can find the maximum number of qualified prospects in the minimum period of time. Your answer should guide you to the right direction. For example, if you hear that a new office block is being built and you’re in the business of selling office furniture, then the new tenants are an obvious target for you. Find out their names from the architect or builder and plan to meet them fast. You might find, for example, 20 prospects in just one office block.
Test Your Knowledge
Are the following statements true or false?