The #1 job of a salesperson is NOT to sell.
Ha! That's it, Mr. Fancy Pants Whisperer. You've gone too far. I'm outta here."
Sit tight there, Sparky. You're here because you have sales, prospecting, marketing, negotiation, closing, and/or money-making pain, and this post will help you, so stay with me.
As I was saying, your main job in sales is not to sell. It's to prospect.
Short of physical force and "making them an offer they can't refuse," you and I cannot control if someone buys from us.
But we can control:
- what time we wake up
- what we eat for breakfast
- how much we exercise
- what we listen to on the way into work
- what time we get to work
- how we prepare ourselves to engage our prospects and their army of gate-keepers
- how we contact our prospects (multi-media, multi-step is key)
- what we say to our prospects when we contact them
- how often we contact them
- how we conduct ourselves when we contact them
- how we negotiate
- how we deliver the winning proposal
- how we continue selling after we get the money
- how we get referrals and testimonials
- how we spend our down time after work including continuing education, eating, drinking, and getting to bed at a decent hour or partying like it's 1999
All of the above is under your control. (How good are you at getting this done? Need some help?)
And the #1 job of prospecting is to DIS-QUALIFY your leads.
Just like a heart surgeon can't help a healthy patient with a strong heart, a salesperson selling tires can't help someone who just bought new tires last week.
What's worse is that if a great heart surgeon spent hours trying to convince a 25-year old marathon runner to have heart surgery, he could miss the opportunity to treat and maybe even save the truly sick patient.
The easiest way to go crazy—and broke—in sales is thinking...
I sell water...and since the human body is 70% water...and people can't go more than three days without water...EVERYONE is a prospect so I can call on anyone and everyone and they'll buy from me and I'll get RICH!"
Yeah. Let me know how that works out fer ya, Sparky.
Why wouldn't someone buy water from you?
- They are worried about the environment and try to minimize their use of plastics
- They have a home filtration system and prefer its taste and purity
- They're on a budget
- They're in a cramped home/apartment and have nowhere to store the bottles
Do you see how something as "obvious" as selling water is not so obvious?
This is why you must disqualify your prospects in order to discover not only do they have pain, but the severity of their pain along with their willingness and ability to invest the time, money, and energy in order to make the pain go away.
If you don't "close first, then present," you're going to jump right into dog-and-pony-show mode where you demo your solution, answer all of their questions, give free consultations, provide detailed proposals, sharpen your pencil, present again to the next person at the company that needs to see your detailed demo, sharpen your pencil again, only to then find out the ultimate decision maker has not agreed to this solution, has not authorized the budget, and is not on board, which results in your "99% Done" deal arriving DOA days before the end of the quarter.
That's why I say...
To make any sale, you must make every sale."
When you "close first, then present," you are following the "sales dog methodology," which is based on the chain dog of a roller coaster, as shown below in my fancy artwork!
In the military this would be the same as having someone "check your six," i.e. keep you safe from the enemy sneaking up from behind and attacking you at your must vulnerable position.
The chain dog is the actual name of the safety bar that makes the "clank, clank" sound as the roller coaster climbs that first big hill.
It's an anti-rollback safety mechanism, which is why I say close first for their desire, willingness, and ability to buy based on a quantifiable pain, then present your solution if you have something that can help them.
Nothing is more debilitating to a salesperson than thinking they have a "slam dunk" deal, which has taken a lot of work to nurture along only to have the prospect say,
Oh, wow! That is not within our budget!"
I'll have to get the approval from (insert boss/spouse/accountant/palm readers' name here)."
This has been very helpful. We'll definitely keep you in mind if this project gets approved next year."
Thank you so much. We're going to get a couple more bids and get back to you."
Close first—for ability, desire, budget, willingness, need—then present your solution.
If you're pitching the 3rd-level manager who was merely sent out on a fact-finding tour and you didn't take the time to ask them how they fit into the organization, what has led to their need to review your solution, how they make decisions, and what she would be recommending to the big boss, and you still do the song and dance...that waste of time is all on you.
Qualified Leads Have (insert your favorite acronym that you can remember) P.A.I.N.
Being from the South (where English was an elective), I like to make things easy to remember, as you've seen with the "sales dog" concept and The A.B.C.D.E. Sales & Marketing System™.
Along those lines, PAIN is an old yet reliable acronym for:
- P - Problem Exists
- A - Acknowledged
- I - Inspired to Change
- N - Necessary Authority to Buy
Other worthwhile acronyms include:
- S.P.I.N. from the authors of "SPIN Selling"
- Need Payoff
- Economic Impact
- Access to Authority
You can see the common thread running through these methodologies. Like the heart surgeon mentioned earlier, if someone is not complaining of dizzy spells, labored breathing, and chest pains, they shouldn't be speaking to them.
Likewise, if your prospects aren't desperate for your help, you shouldn't be speaking to them, either.
That's why your job is to disqualify your prospects.
You're not selling.
You're sorting, sifting, and separating.
A key question I like to ask early in the engagement is
What happened? What just happened that caused you to go online, find my site, and schedule this call?"
If you're a fitness trainer on the phone or meeting in person with a prospect at your gym something just happened:
- A child/spouse/neighbor/stranger called them fat
- They had to get a belt extender on a flight last week and it embarrassed them
- Their child bench pressed more than them or beat them in a foot race or had a scout field trip and they had to stay behind because they couldn't hike that trail
- They have a 10/20/30 year reunion coming up and they want their old flame that walked out on them to eat their heart out
- They're getting married and want to look their best for the wedding
- They're getting divorced and need to look good as they get back on the market
If you sell CRM software and you're on a video demo with a prospect something just happened:
- They got locked into an onerous CRM contract last year and it's up for renewal so they want to find an affordable alternative
- They are working 80 hours a week running their business because their website doesn't integrate with their shopping cart which doesn't integrate with their accounting software which doesn't integrate with their email software so they are manually updating everything and because of this they were late to their kid's game and missed their first home run/goal/3-point shot and swore that would never happen again
- They lost a big sale to a new competitor who was faster to respond to a quote because all of their systems are integrated and their follow-up is coordinated, relevant, timely, and informative, not to mention multi-media.
Remember, whoever is asking questions is in control of the conversation.
Have an agenda for your sales calls.
Spend your time and effort finding prospects with all four PAIN points and watch your income grow as your sales efforts are reduced.