You have just walked out of the office of a potential new major customer that you have anxiously been waiting to meet with for weeks and again, you realize you have no idea what is going to happen next as a result of your meeting. Worse yet, you again “spilled all your beans” by telling the potential client how they should solve their problems, hoping that they will LET YOU help them by throwing some business your way. You tell yourself, “I think I’ll get some business here because I know they liked me!” Sound familiar?
Selling is Truly a DIS-qualification Process!
Most seasoned sales professionals will tell you that effective selling is essentially a customer DISqualification process. You systematically define whether any given targeted customer justifies the time and cost of further pursuit. You must clearly define if your potential customer clearly understands and sincerely appreciates the value of your product or service offerings to a level of justification that they can, and will, make a reasonable purchase commitment to you. If they cannot or will not, they do not qualify! Don’t waste your time, move on!
This potential customer disqualification process is best implemented via a straightforward, “2 and ½ Sales Call Selling Process”:
The “2 and ½ Sales Call Selling Process”
It starts with setting up an appointment to meet face-to-face with a potential customer, (the “half” call). The next step in the process, (the first call) or visit, is best described as a “fact-finding session”. The final step in the selling process concludes with a second face-to-face session, called the “Presentation Call”, (the second call), where you present solutions to the problems surfaced in the fact-finding session. Warning: Mixing these two calls or sessions together or attempting to consolidate both visits into one session can dramatically reduce your probability of selling success!
Each of the 2 and 1/2 sales call selling sessions is based on a logical and linear information exchange process between you and the potential customer. Within each call or session you should try to get answers to the following fundamental questions:
The “Half” Call” – Setting Up the Appointment:
Who within the targeted organization would benefit most from your product or service offering? (Varies by company type and size) Does this person have the purchase authority to make a valid purchase commitment?(If no, call a management level “above” this position and get referred “down”) If you must get referred to the person who has this purchase authority, can you use the referring person’s name to get to the true decision maker?
Do you have a clear understanding of exactly what you are going to say when you make your appointment request? (Try using a call script to keep you on track)
Do you have the ability to sound confident on the telephone? (If not, why not?)
Do you clearly understand that your sole objective on this “½ call” is to secure an appointment, with the person(s) who best benefit from your product or service AND can make the purchase commitment … NOT to make a sale?
The “First Call” – The “Fact-Finding Session:
Preparation is critical to achieving sales success. Do you know anything about this company and it’s industry? Obtaining basic information here will go a long way for you to establish initial rapport and credibility with this potential customer (If not, do some research prior to the visit)
Can you anticipate some likely problems a potential client of this type and size will communicate to you?
When the potential customer communicates to you their business problem(s) can you get more information from them about the problem(s), such as:
- Do they know exactly what the problems is?
- How long has the problem existed?
- What will happen if the problem continues?
- What have they done to date to address the problem?
- What were the results of those efforts?
- What is the $ cost of this problem?
- Are there budgeted funds available to “fix” the problem(s)?
- Can and will they commit budgeted funds to fix the problem?
Once you secured accurate answers to these eight questions, FOR EACH problem you uncover in this fact-finding session, then, and only then, can YOU truly determine whether this potential customer qualifies for the next step in your 2 and ½ Sales Call Selling Process, the “Presentation Call”.
The “Second Call” – The “Presentation Call”:
Start this meeting with a brief review of your findings from your first fact finding session. Immediately establish that the purpose of this meeting is to come to a decisive next step to address the problems at hand, not to conclude with a, “We’d like to think it over” meeting conclusion. Communication of your presentation call conclusion expectations to the potential customer at the beginning of the meeting is critical to maximizing the probability of achieving your desired meeting objective – to get a commitment!
- Are you prepared to only focus on and “present to” the business problems defined during your fist visit in line with their communicated importance?
- Are you savvy enough to ask for a reschedule of this meeting if once you get there all or any of the purchase decision makers do not show up?
- Can you ask for a purchase commitment? (If one cannot be given, can you ask why?)
- Do you clearly understand what you achieved and what you didn’t in this presentation call? What lessons did you learn that you can leverage in your next sales opportunity?
Having a structured method to qualify, or should we say, disqualify potential new customers not only improves your probability of selling success, but significantly enhances your self confidence during the process.
Selling your products or services does not have to be psychological warfare between you and your potential customer. Much of the success of selling is in your preparation of each of the 2 and ½ Sales Call Selling process steps and your continuous audit of selling process improvements, defining what specific selling tactics work best for you in any given selling situation.