This appeared in print as part of the story “Best Laid Plans” In 2007, the City of Columbia’s visioning document suggested that council...
Have you ever said something on a sales call that sounded a lot better in your sales meeting than it did in front of the prospect? Sometimes what seems like a good idea from a sales perspective ends up crashing and burning in the real world. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes, and ask, “Would I buy from me if I said what I just said to myself?” Carefully thinking through a role reversal will give your sales process a reality check. If, as a prospect, you would give yourself the eye roll over something you just said as a salesperson, then don’t say it. There’s a sales graveyard somewhere that contains amazing one-liners that just aren’t effective in the real world. Here are a few examples:
“I’d like to learn about your business.” What the salesperson is thinking: “I want to know more about what I can sell to you and need a safe way to schedule a meeting. I’m showing respect by being interested and working to build a relationship.” What the prospect is thinking: “You’re not prepared. I wish you’d do some homework first and not waste my time asking about stuff you can find through a 15-minute Google search or a store walk-through.” To prospects, that question represents a huge waste of time. My suggestion is to take the time to research and plan. Be prepared by asking good questions about things you’ve noticed and researched about their business that might be connected to problems you can help them solve.
“I’ll just take a few minutes of your time.” What the salesperson is thinking: “It’s best to respect their time. If I can just get in the door, ask a few questions or leave a brochure, hopefully I’ll earn the right to come back later.” What the prospect is thinking: “I’ll let them in and then not be able to get rid of them. What can we accomplish of value in just a few minutes anyway?” It’s no secret: People are busy, and most salespeople feel weird about being an intrusion. My suggestion is to be brutally honest. If a conversation typically works best with a 30-, 60- or even a 90-minute window, tell them what’s necessary. Share what you want to accomplish in the meeting, and discuss the agenda. Most prospects will respect value and preparation over brevity. Brevity is simply an escape hatch for which there’s no value.
“I’m not trying to sell you anything.” What the salesperson is thinking: “I want to slow this down and earn their trust first.” What a prospect is thinking: “Bologna.” Make sure, as a salesperson, you’re not hiding the fact that you want to sell something. Remember that it’s no secret you’re a salesperson. If that embarrasses you, then perhaps a new profession is in order. Be confident about your role in sales. What you’re really trying to do is have prospects understand that you’re there with their best interests in mind. You can say that — or you can show it.
As you challenge yourself to grow and improve in sales, never stop considering your words from the perspective of the prospective customer. If you don’t buy it, they’re not going to either.
© 2012 Sandler Systems Inc. Sandler Training is the global leader in sales and management training and consulting. Catherine Atkins is your exclusive authorized franchisee of Sandler Training. Find more articles and information on Facebook and Twitter at MoSalesCoach.