No. 17 – Telephone Techniques – Reaching Decision Makers

If you have to telephone for appointments for business development or account management here are two simple techniques to save you time and effort getting through to decision makers. 1) With your words and tone sound and act as if the decision maker knows you and is even expecting your call, ask for them by their first and last name, use your first name, don't volunteer any other information, if you don't have the contact's full name make a separate call to get it. 2) Establish if the decision maker is even there BEFORE you offer any information if they are out get off the telephone, don't leave your name or any details. If you leave a message they know to have your next call blocked. Follow these tips and you will save time and increase the frequency with which you get through. Click here for more reaching decision makers and making appointments tips.

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No. 16 – Can’t get the deal closed, are you REALLY dealing with the decision maker?

As money gets tight, decision making authority gets moved higher. Past decision makers, the people who previously have given you orders, suddenly move from being decision makers to [albeit significant] decision influencers, the problem is they don't tell you something stops them. So here is the acid test are you dealing with the "budget holder" or the "budget caretaker", find out who REALLY owns the business problem, who REALLY holds the budget and THIS is your decision maker.

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No. 15 – THE PRICE IS NOT THE COST!

Lowering the price does not lower the cost! Cheap products don't usually last as long, lower price means poorer service, save money at the outset (cheap car) pay later (service bills). If your prospect or client wants to buy cheap then get them talking about life cycle costs, total cost of ownership and the cost in time to them of purchasing again because they made a wrong decision (this works for professional services or where no product is invloved). Get the topic on the table by asking questions not lecturing them. You can't always avoid giving something away, but you can usually avoid giving too much away. Ask me for a handout on selling value price versus cost.

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No. 14 – PRESENTING TO YOUR CLIENT OR PROSPECT – START WITH THEM NOT YOU!

Who is the most important person on the sales call the client or prospect of course. So why do we so often see salespeople start a "capability" or "solution" presentation with information about their own company? If you want your audience sitting up and listening make the first slide (after the title slide) about them. Our favourite heading for this slide is "issues you probably face" or "challenges in your business". Watch the difference in how they respond and open up to you when they see you really understand their business and their situation.

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No. 12 – WHY AM I MAKING THIS SALES CALL………………

Someone once told me "in the absence of clearly defined goals we resort to activity". Because in many markets and especially in a business development role, you can't always get the order "on this visit" its easy not to have a solid objective for every visit or telephone sales call you make. As a result neither the seller nor the prospect get real value from the interaction. So how do you avoid sales activity for the sake of it, how do you get something from every visit or telephone sales you make? Set an objective for every customer prospect engagement and make sure it is a SMART objective Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Based. In fact SMART is a great way to sanity check anything you are doing in your sales process it makes you ask yourself "why am I making this call, am I really progressing the sale or I am confusing activity for results?"

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No. 11 – WIN MORE ORDERS AND ASSIGNMENTS BY OFFERING YOUR PROSPECT A CHOICE

Too often we submit proposals that unintentionally offer the prospect, client or customer a simple choice go ahead or don't. Whenever you are uncovering your prospect's needs and presenting your solution always look for two options they could go for don't invent something and make sure you have raised the options in the discussions. For example you could offer pricing options, product configuration options, delivery and installation options. Then when you present the proposal you are asking "do you want to go ahead with Option A or would you prefer Option B?". The prospect is then deciding which option to take rather than deciding on the choice we usually give which is "do you want it or not".

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No. 10 – IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PROSPECT TOO GOOD?

The danger in "relationship selling" is that sometimes YOU do too good a job. If you have some deals stalling at the moment look out for this you build such a good relationship with the prospect or client that they don't "have the heart" to tell you they are not going ahead. The sale just seems to drag on, with them putting up seemingly good reasons to stall, and you ending up in "continuation" mode. If you are feeling this is the case then politely tell them (don't ask them) that YOU are withdrawing your proposal as the time does not seem right for them to make a decision. A real prospect will say "hold on not so fast" and give you the real situation. A real prospect but where the timing genuinely is wrong will say "phew! would you, thanks I appreciate that" BUT they DO come back to you. The people you don't ask at all but you end up pestering they are the ones where that good relationship eventually falters, even if they were going to buy they often don't. Never be afraid to offer to walk away!

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No. 9 – ARE YOU QUALIFYING THE PROSPECT OR SPINNING YOUR WHEELS?

When sales are slow the temptation is to try and sell to everyone. Sometimes we forget about "prospect qualification" and we end up wasting time. The prospect has to have a Need for what you are selling, they have to have the desire to do something about the need and a desire to do something about the need with you. The prospect must have the Money and the willingness to spend it. Finally you must be dealing with someone who has the Authority to say yes.

Who's the MAN? The person with the Money Authority and the Need of course! Or as one my lady colleagues says "actually its the WOMAN Who Own the MAN!"

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No. 8 – ARE YOU MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR AVAILABLE SELLING TIME?

There is never enough time in a day and once the day has gone, its gone! Don't forget "Prime Time" the time when prospects, clients and customers are most likely to be available and receptive. This will vary from industry to industry, market to market, job to job.

If you have a "sell / do" role lawyers, CPAs, consultants, sales engineers put time aside that is only for selling. Just because its the beginning of the month, don't fool yourself, watch out for the time bandits that steal your business development and sales time. You should NEVER be doing anything except pro-active sales activity in Prime Time.

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NO. 7 – CLOSING THE SALE

Don't forget to ask for the order! Do I hear you laughing? You would be surprised how many people make the sales presentation and don't ask for the order. Prospects don't "close" themselves. Whatever you are selling products, professional services, consultancy you have to ask for the order. Don't leave it to chance, plan your close in advance. How are you going to ask for the order, what will your close be, have you got the answers to objections ready? We all plan opening the sale, we rarely plan how we are going to ask for the business.

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