Showing posts with label Prospecting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prospecting. Show all posts

BAIT and SWITCH: is NOT the RIGHT way to SELL

Since I began writing this blog 8 years ago (Happy Anniversary to me .... la la la LA LAAAAaaaa) I have written mostly on sales.  That is what I know best and if I had to be honest:  my sweet spot.  I was only good at the whole thing because I could juggle a lot of things at once, more than just multi-tasking.  Juggling rapidly while balance with one foot on a big rubber ball!

The other thing has been honing in my judgement skills.  For the most part, I've been optimistic, naive, and too trusting.  There might be more things others would call me that would ruin the positive spin that I try to churn out:  believable, honest..... to ... will she ever shut up?  To a talent at being able to drown people out (my husband).  

Maybe there is some loneliness that is escaping in bubbles, where every day seems to be like climbing Mount Everest, in slow motion, more tiring the next day than the day before.

For entertainment while I am doing some dreaded chores, I'm releasing a zest of battling so much negativity and worry in my world to a more peaceful and calm one.  

The rollercoaster I knowingly and if not completely willing to the wolves of sales people (my ulter ego) to do a few of the things that Rob would have on his HONEY DO list.  Since he has passed 9 weeks of remarkable progress, I have given myself permission to write a little and express myself so that I don't keep everything up inside or explode!

Looking at the opportunity to purchase things as a responsibility, when you partner is out of the picture in more ways than one, left solo to buy things that I would push and he'd try to push back on his domain.  We'd compromised by having our home tactically divided, evacuated by four, now adult [Millennial] blended family children.  Too big practically for two of us, but easily filled up with our respective and joint treasures.

So I tippy toe into trying to get the roof fixed on my home.  Something that I had thought I had signed off on almost two weeks ago.  Sending an email yesterday after visiting Rob at the hospital, a 6 days a week devotion.  I asked the insuror if their company was taking their business for granted, because to make my life easier, I had said to whomever that had called that I was not going to project manager them, just let me know when they will be here, what do I owe, and when will they be done ETA.  John left a card tucked into my door jam, along with the Census Taker's postcard.  

I took it to meaning that John was from the company that the Insuror had designated and I'd excepted.  It wasn't until halfway that I figured out where both John and I were puzzled:  I explained that I had assumed he was from the contractor to do the roof sent by the insurance company.  John was puzzled, because he usually had really great, efficient records, even able to produce a print out of all the homes he'd done in the area (this was a follow up from his cold call because I thought he was really from the Insuror).

Call it fate.  Regardless.  He sent me his quote.  I sent him my answer, which I am transparently sharing.  I only used John's name .... no privacy was infringed upon.

I'll let you know how it pans out.


Hi John 

Nice to meet you earlier today.  Apparently, confusion on my part pending completion of our roof stumbled you into the opportunity.  As I mentioned, as a sales gal by heart, I'm a big fan of giving people a shot just by the fact that they do a face-to-face OR telephone cold call - really, a lost art. 

One of my former bosses eventually figured out after a few years when I was in sales, that part of my skill had nothing to do with what was coming out of my mouth (which usually is exhausting enough) or how I was able to configure or negotiate a deal.  I became skilled at reading upside down.  So usually I can remember something that is being said and what had been coming out of my mouth resonated in some way, thus the note.  I just began to read upside down.   

Your whole proposal and Compliance Information is superb and REALLY nicely done - where did you come up with that idea?  I'd love to create one for my brother-in-law's business because when he does well in his business and my sister is happy and he is sending us to Mexico together ..... he has a furnace cleaning business with 15 as an entrepreneur -- you'd actually find value by networking or having a coffee in your MAN CAVE -- I'm pretty certain you'd find synergy and pockets of knowledge each other would learn mostly because of your shared interest of living a quality life and doing what you have a passion for, which is far more rewarding than the baZILLIONs you made a stock broker.  That IS amazing! 

I was wondering ..... I saw you wrote the number of Insuror payable $5600 dollars down and $2600 what my contribution should be for a total of $8200.  Did you factor these numbers into your equation when you came up with your price?

  I did really like the bait and switch technique:  give me comments that hint of a better deal from you with less out of pocket expense and a better product.  I do have a sharp memory when it comes to numbers and the visual of what you wrote down. 

That is why I was wondering why you would come in more expensive or whether this is a negotiation technique of barter ready response? 

Sincerely, Jeannette 

If you want to resend a new estimate, that would be fair for another 24 hours -- it is 1
 a.m. MST Calgary, April 27, 2018.

Call, calling and calling again

"You just can't beat the person who never gives up."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ~Babe Ruth

Many sales professionals probably wonder if they're being annoying or why they're not getting a call returned. They go so far as dreaming up tricks and innovative attention getting antics that fall flat.  So how much is too much?

I don't think there is a clear cut answer, yet I know statistically, 85% of all sales reps give up after the first call ... yet most opportunity happens after the 5th call!

I've often had to internalize my approach and ask myself what I am doing and if I were sitting on the other side of your voicemail, email or written letter, what would prompt me to respond.  I know that if it isn't working, I need change it up and try some new approaches:
  1. Understand the value you and your organization will bring -- how you can you solve problems, eliminate headaches, increase revenue, improve profits?
  2. Provide proof:  A tempting nugget on how you do what you claim?  Who else have you done it for?
  3. Be explicit about why you are calling or why they should call you back 
  4. The higher you call, the more compelling their reason to call you back should be
  5. Script Option: I appreciate how busy you are ... I will call back at such a such time (the earlier the morning the better) 
  6. Script Option: If I am calling you and you are not the appropriate person I should be speaking to, I would appreciate if (i.e. your assistant) or you get back to me with the appropriate person's name (I've done this, and then it looks like you've been referred top-down)
  7. ALWAYS have a reason for your call and a reason WHY they should talk to you
  8. Research: The best time to call a prospect is between 8:30-10:30 a.m. yet most people believe it is just after lunch (which is the worst time)
  9. Research: The best day of the week to call someone is a Thursday
  10. If I were to leave you a message saying I'm calling about life insurance (no, I don't sell that .... but who doesn't get a lot of those calls?) ... you'd automaticly delete me ............. but if I were to call you to say I have important ideas on succession planning that have proven successful with other executives like you (specific name dropping is always better) ... would you take that call instead?
If you examine your "pitch" you have to be honest with yourself.  Are you saying the exact same thing as anyone else creating noise in your prospect's mind:  I'm better, provide quality, solve the ultimate problems, save money, have deals, better act now, etc. etc. etc.
You have to develop strong relationships with key decision makers.  If you do, they will want to help you succeed because you've helped them in some way. Go ahead and ask them how many calls they get and which ones they answer and why?

Many times you will discover that they get a ton of calls/e-mails a day so they all start to sound the same. Yet disciplined decision makers also realize that they can gain the best information from their trusted circle or go to people who will help them solve a problem. They hardly want to pass up an opportunity to learn ways to save money, save time, ease pressure, solve problems. If you can "hit" that note in your voicemail or message, you may be more likely to connect.

Here are some ideas to give you incentive to keep plugging: 
  1. Remember, they're busy. Yes, many are intentionally ignoring you. Many more are simply too busy to answer every call/e-mail they get.
  2. Remember the executive assistant.  They often are an extension and typically know what hot buttons their boss may react to.  They DO have the power to slam the door, open it up, inform you who may be better suited to address your offer, and schedule appointments.
  3. Keep in mind, that many decision makers become cynical after dealing with sales people who over promise and under deliver
  4. Try sending a introductory letter so that you can carefully lay out what it is you are offering, how you've helped others, and when you will call to set up an appointment to share your ideas in depth.  Who gets real mail these days that aren't glossy and scream junk mail anymore?
  5. Be persistent but classy:  they're counting on you to give up after the first or second call
Go beyond standard information gathering and persevere by asking more meaty questions:
  1. Can this person I converse with sign a cheque or contract?
  2. If not, then who is the decision maker for your services?
  3. Who can influence the decision maker on your behalf?
  4. Who are the end users?
  5. Are their any holes that you can fill that can give you a toe in the door?
  6. What outside factors influence that decision -- a current contract, established partner, relative who is a vendor or service provider?
  7. What is greasing the wheels of commerce -- sports or concert tickets? Wining and dining?  Promotional products?
  8. Do they have a purchasing policy or process that you must follow?
  9. Are their specific channels that you should go through?
Most professionals who enter the field of sales tend to be more uncomfortable calling on an executive than they are an administrative person.  Many try to snow their managers and executives that have a conversation with just about anyone is a contact.  The truly successful sales professionals know most of this information and more:
  1. Who their customers are -- what challenges are they facing to serve their own customers?
  2. What is impacting their industry -- government regulations, ongoing changes, outside influences?
  3. The history of their purchasing decisions:  who, why and what criteria did they use to establish a relationship with a vendor?
  4. What knowledge do they need at the table:  being technical is not always the key, asking great questions often leads to better opportunities.
If you are faced with driving revenue into your organization, it means that you are in the sales game.  Take pride in understanding what drives customers to your doorstep and what you can do to ensure they stay.  Everyone has a part and a place -- it starts with recognizing that it takes a lot less time and resources to keep a customer happy than it does to find a new one.
"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great."                                                                          ~ John D. Rockefeller

Customer cycles or sales funnels?

"The top salesperson in the organization probably missed more sales than 90% of the sales people on the team, but they also made more calls than the others made."
                                                                                    ~Zig Ziglar

The difference between a customer journey and a sales funnel - is your perception of either.  Inexperienced sales rookies are coached to label what phase their customer is at in their buying cycle by their management and/or organization.  The most definitive one you tend to see is divided into thirds .... commonly referred to as "the sales funnel".

The top third and widest with the most numbers is "Suspects".   Otherwise referenced as leads.  You are at the beginning, likely haven't met with a decision maker, or even understand why or how they buy.  They  have been identified as a potential customer by:

  1. Cold calls
  2. Lead generation
  3. Referrals

The second tier is "Prospects" or called opportunities.   Are a mid-volume of numbers.  Prospects have moved from being a "Suspect" to a "Prospect" because they have been qualified.  The sales professional has identified them as a potential customer from a number of avenues: 

  1. Web contact inquiry contact 
  2. Inbound telephone call asking questions 
  3. Internal leads:  referrals, heads up or personal recommendations
  4. That first meeting, cold call
  5. They've been identified as having a need that your company can fill
  6. Follow up from cold call, or investigative meeting
  7. Someone has read or shared information that shows where growth may be
  8. Knowledge of key players are:  decision maker, influencer, user, authority, payment
  9. They have the ability to pay for your service or product
  10. Who you are speaking to has  the authority to make a decision to move forward or will simply be making a recommendation or gathering prices
  11. What internal endorsement is required to proceed with providing a solution, quote or proposal or be established as a vendor, provider or partner
  12. A decision will or can be made based on the need you can fill

The final third tier is "Customers".   These are the fewest numbers.  They have traveled through the funnel to arrive at a transaction, contract or agreement to buy.  They have satisfied your organizations criteria to do business or you have met their's:

  1. Set up an account: met credit requirements:  credit check, references
  2. Have the ability to pay:  financial resources, how or when and authorized by someone
  3. You have identified that your prospect wants or is willing to pay for your service or product
  4. You understand their buying frequency:  one time, annual, intermittent, monthly, daily, etc.
  5. You understand how they work and how to work them within your own system or processes ... sometimes customized
  6. You know their structure and where they may buy from:  global, national, or local 
  7. They have issued a purchase order (PO#), requisition or cheque to buy
  8. You have broken them down by value to your organization:  major account, corporate, enterprise, business, entrepreneur, consumer
  9. You have systems or structure to match their buying:  an account executive, major account representative, territory manager, sales representative, customer service
  10. You have adapted your structure to mirror your customer's behavior:  single point of contact on major accounts or enterprise sales, business to business local or global points of contact, order forms, web order systems, incoming telephone orders, fax'd orders (forms), catalogue, directories

The most successful sales professionals or sales oriented organizations match their behavior or identity system to that of the potential customer.  They understand where their customer is in the buying cycle:

  1. Research
  2. Information gathering
  3. Price shopping
  4. Vendor qualification
  5. Who can provide the desired product or service to match what they think they want
  6. Criteria outlined on how they will decide to act (make a purchase)
  7. Established approved list of vendors or providers authorized to be purchased from
  8. Budget accounted for
  9. Approval process (by transaction or by location or by authority)
  10. Payment structure
  11. Review structure 
  12. Service structure
  13. Support to maintain orders
  14. Ability to meet needs
  15. Reputation to meet requirements or identify unknown needs and proactively fix gaps
  16. Established trust

How you identify where you are at is important to create a language among your team as to where you are at in a sale:  are you on a fishing expedition or are you assembling your team of resources to put all heads together to put together a win-win proposal?

"If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all your items, just carry those twenty percent."
                                                         ~Henry A. Kissinger

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems have these areas identified and can populate into graphs or graphic funnels to help those:

  1. Forecasting potential revenue, profit margins, marketing efforts
  2. Budget resources:  people, equipment, processes, tools, systems, 
  3. Have all the systems and resources in place or easily activated responses
  4. Policies and procedures in place for escalations or when things go wrong or extra assistance required for customer are in place
  5. People resources match customer orders:  equated to response time, hours of operation, scheduling

It is the footprint of your sales efforts success:  as both an organization and the customer facing personnel status in the customer's buying cycle.  I recommend that you break it down into bite size chunks so that they can be addressed.  If you are writing a business plan, a key component is answering:  "where and how will you get or retain customers?".  This should be long before you are looking for investors or financing to launch or continue operations.  I liked this diagram via Google by Andrea Callahan:

Ironically, most start ups and entrepreneurs gear up on marketing, outbound campaigns, telemarketing, sales coverage long before they have answered any of the above.  It can easily foreshadow failure over success.  Yes, you need to walk before you run.  However, assembling and identifying who are suspects, prospects and customers and where they are in the funnel, and the numbers associated with those numbers, clearly outlines the road map to monitor and manage growth.

It takes patience, practice and precision to be able to do this automatically.  The more adaptive or fluid you are in meeting demands are going to allow you to pinpoint the when, who and how to focus on your grow and ability to flourish.  If you recognize how you will move and keep pace with your customers at their speed, not your own, will signal a mature organization with a clear understanding on who is their customer and how great the relationship can be.

"Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says: 'Make me feel important.' Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life."
~Mary Kay Ash

Suspect? Prospect? Account? Defining your sales progress.

"You are never a loser until you quit trying."
Mike Ditka
It is often asked:  when does one stop calling after they’ve tried calling so many times without success or at least a returned call?  My thoughts are simple:  if you are calling, calling and calling and you aren't getting a response, it should tell you that you haven't done your research aka homework.  People will only buy if there is a need.  If you haven't uncovered a specific need that your product or service can address, then you will call until you're told to get lost ... or you give up .... or your manager asks you why same has been on your prospect list for so long.  Initially, all leads, cold calls, etc. are "Suspects".  Before you turn them into a "Prospect"  you should be able to answer why they are a prospect?  What tipped you off to make you confident that they would buy from you?  If you cannot answer that, they are still a "Suspect".  If you haven't had a scheduled appointment with a decision maker to uncover a need, they are still a "Suspect".  If you marketing department or web gave it to you as a lead that has not been followed up on, even if there were specific inquiries, they are still a "Suspect".

If you have had a chance to sit down with a decision maker and ask them qualifying questions you have a "Prospect".  In other words you have qualified them as a prospect:

  • They have said they're going to buy your product or service     
  • They have budget allocated
  • They have a time line established for purchase or engaging service
  • They have developed a criteria on how they are going to award the business
  • There are business, industry or government factors that are advancing their decision:

1.      There is a deadline

2.      There is a project

3.      There are business advantages for them to make the decision

4.      There may be a penalty if they don’t act on a) by b)

5.      Your organization can help meet, avoid, eliminate 1 to 4.

6.      You understand 1 to 5.

If you are not talking to the "Decision Maker" (the person who can sign the cheque or agreement) then you are still in "Suspect" mode.  This is because this person has been assigned to gather information, gather quotes, price shop, etc.  It would be only move beyond "Suspect" to "Prospect" if you can validate that they can make recommendations that will be acted upon. 

Once the "Prospect" has been identified, then you should determine what will make them buy from you to become an "Account".  In order for this to happen you can answer:

  • What they like about your product, company, solution, service
  • Who might also be part of the decision making process (i.e. committee, board of directors, executive, manager)?
  • You understand their needs and you have provided a proposal, bid, letter outlining what it is they are asking for and what you are addressing
  • You have asked how, who, what are the decision making criteria

·   They can afford your solution, service, product or you have carved out a way that they can afford it by looking at financial landscape.

·   They can sign on the dotted line today

  • You have scheduled and performed a demonstration, trial, beta test, and/or review of their needs in person with them confirming that you have understood what they are looking for
  • You understand whether they understand what they are buying or simply doing research in case it comes up in the future (which relegates them back to the "Suspect" pile)
  • They have a budget, enough money, to spend on what you are proposing?
  • They are budgeting for the future and you have diarized to follow up in a specific time frame to move them from "Suspect" to "Prospect"
  • They agree that you are being considered because you  

1.      Understand the problem(s) they will encounter if they do not move forward

2.      Understand how this solution, service, product will help them by itemizing
         their specific  "Benefits":

ü  solve administrative headaches

ü  streamline process

ü  fix problems

ü  increase employee morale

ü  make them more competitive

ü  increase reputation or brand

If they agree to sign, purchase, agree to your proposal, you have ONLY then established an "Account" ….. BUT only after you have taken into consideration your organizations policies and ability to serve/delivery/meet the demand to deliver:

a)      Deposit

b)      Credit Application

c)      Agreement Terms

d)      Service Level Agreements

e)      Operational readiness

f)       Resources assembled

g)      Product Availability

h)     Warranties

i)       Approved price concessions

j)       The executive sponsor from the "Account" who will help you implement

k)      Authored an Implementation Plan (if applicable) with all the people who have to be involved assigned tasks, responsibilities, time lines


Before you start to get up and run out to scream to the world that you've "got it" there is one important thing that you must do:

1.   Schedule a follow up to ensure they are happy with what was promised, delivered, agreed to.  Based on that you may have to:

Ø  Review the promises made together with “Account”

Ø  Fix any issues that have been identified

Ø  Understand how the short comings impacted their business (time to market, competitiveness, serving their customers, lost revenue, lost new business, etc.)

Ø  Address those issues with your operations, resources

Ø  Collaborate with operations BEFORE you offer any discounts, refunds,

Ø  Follow up that those issues have been fixed to their satisfaction

Ø  Ask for a testimonial for your website, quotes for your other proposals, references

Ø  Ask for a referral only then

When you attend the scheduled follow up review, you may want to have two follow ups:  1) with the person who agreed to the purchase; then 2) the people who have been impacted by this new product, service, solution.

If you are truly really lucky, you will turn this "Account" into a "Partner" ... but I'll leave that for another day.  You have some homework to do right now. 


"Happy customers are repeat customers ... and repeat customers refer you to their friends, colleagues, business associates and relatives"

Jeannette Marshall
Comments?  Feel free to provide your feedback ... did this help you?  Do you agree with this post?  Do you have additional tips or tricks that help you better qualify to ensure success? 
Of course, sharing also helps if others can learn and is greatly appreciated!