Do you take the time to research a prospective company before you pick up the phone? Have you called a prospect and asked the individual what he or she is really looking for in a particular product or service before making the pitch? Do you know what your prospects’ biggest concerns are? What would it take to make them satisfied customers?
As we all know, most people involved with sales are too busy to conduct research, or make continuous calls to establish relationships because they are working on so many other projects. The problem is what are you risking by not doing these things?
These tips are based on my 15 years of directly helping businesses and entrepreneurs improve prospect relationships. I believe they will help you too.
1. Get to know your prospects. Take extra time to do some research before reaching out to the targeted individual. This may mean doing your homework on the internet and prospect web site to read some of the company’s press releases, the backgrounds of the key management people you want to speak with, and learn as much as you can about what the company’s goals and objectives are.
2. Research your prospect’s competition. Check out what other companies are doing that are in competition with your prospect. When you do reach the targeted contact, you can mention this information along with anything else you have researched that is pertinent to the conversation. Offer some suggestions on what the prospect can do that will help them compete more effectively. Your prospect will know that you took the time to learn about what they are up against, and they will be making a mental note of this. Knowing about other companies in the industry can also help you in the future when you are looking for new opportunities.
3. Create Allies. Most decision makers have an assistant or “gatekeeper.” Don’t just try to bypass them every time you call, or be dismissive to their screening methods. Let them know that you understand how important their job is, and give them a chance at getting to know you and how your product or service will benefit their company’s needs. Be friendly, enthusiastic, respectful, and by all means, smile as you speak. You would be surprised at how many assistants are out there that will work with you instead of against you. They are often a great resource at finding out more about what the company is doing regarding making certain purchases. They may even refer you to someone else within the organization who is more involved with decisions about what you are offering. Be sure when all is said and done that you keep track of the assistant’s name and any notes in your database in case you need it in the future.
4. Focus on your prospects’ needs and concerns. Instead of rambling on about your own products/services right at the start, probe a bit and let your contact know that you want to develop a better understanding of their concerns and to learn more about what they are looking for. For example, What products/services are they now using? How has this been working for them? What specific areas do they want to improve? Then tailor your discussion on those product benefits that will satisfy and meet the prospect’s needs.
5. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up. Whether you are sending an email thanking the contact for his/her time, sending them some additional information that will help them better understand how your product will benefit them, or writing to answer their questions that were posed in your discussion, make sure you keep on top of following up in a timely manner. Don't forget to proofread or have someone review and edit your correspondence if you are not a proficient writer. There is nothing worse than sending written correspondence to someone where there are typos, or where the message is just not clear and comprehensive. Take some extra time before you click on “Send” and avoid any embarrassment for yourself or your company.
Let’s face it. People want to do business with people they know something about, and who they feel can be trusted. Establish a relationship first before asking someone to sign on the dotted line.
Let me know how these suggestions are working for you, or if you have any questions.
About the Writer
Lee Dill is an Independent Contractor with over 15 years of marketing and sales experience helping businesses, including start-up companies, increase growth, visibility, and revenue within the healthcare and technology sector. Focus is placed on establishing and strengthening relationships, generating and qualifying leads, and scheduling appointments with key decision makers.