How You “Prep” May Decide Your Fate
This article is about closing more business, growing your revenue and making more money at what you do. Let’s be honest, sales is not an easy profession. There is rejection, uncertainty and even failure. However, when you succeed, when the prospect and you see eye to eye, when it is a fit, it is a wonderful thing.
In order to achieve more in sales, we have to realize that it is not only an art, but a science as well. We can measure our activities, we can track what we do and get better. Planning to succeed takes preparation. It takes the lessons we have learned and executing them as we move to the next opportunity.
There are many things we can do to prepare for a successful sale to occur. I’d like to bring up some of my favorites. You can add to these as you see fit!
• Decide how you will act, sound and behave in the appointment. In previous articles we’ve talked about the fact that when prospects don’t buy from us, oftentimes we aren’t aware of the actual reasons. We’ve also discussed that when they don’t buy from us, oftentimes it’s actually “us” that got in the way of the sale occurring. Maybe we didn’t bond with them. Maybe we didn’t ask enough questions or enough of the right questions. Maybe we talked too much, or didn’t listen well enough. There are many reasons why people don’t buy from other people.
If we can prepare better how we are going to “act, sound and behave” we can eliminate many of the potential issues that come up. Get out of your own way by thinking about whom you are going to be meeting with. Are they the quiet type or more outgoing? Do they more the direct type, or do they like small talk? How do they dress? How do they act? Mirror and match their style and plan how you will respond and you are prepared for the appointment.
• Plan out the qualifying and disqualifying questions that you plan on asking. Most salespeople that I meet, before they come into my training, “wing it” when it comes to questions. Perhaps they have some questions that they ask fairly consistently, but not in the same order and they probably aren’t very good qualifying questions. For example, asking, “what do you plan on doing in this area?” may be a question that needs to be asked, but it is not a qualifying question. It is what I refer to as a “logistical” question. It doesn’t necessarily help qualify your sale. Qualifying questions sound more like, “What caused you to want to do this project this year?” Or, “How long have you been thinking about doing this?” “What was it that you heard about us that caused you to want to speak with our company?” Or, even more specifically, “When you say you have been concerned about drainage in this area, what have you been concerned about?” and “What have you been told by other organizations about how to fix it?” “Do you agree?” Qualifying and disqualifying questions will help you get to closure more frequently, while helping you waste less time with people that may never end up doing business with you.
• Decide the outcomes you want to occur and plan on how you will arrive there before you start your meetings. Getting projects to “close” has a lot more to do with how you set up the meeting than it does with the end. If we don’t prepare how we set up our meetings, we may run into the proverbial, “let me think about it”, which is never what we want to hear, right? In order to set up meetings properly, suggest that you both ask each other questions. Suggest some form of a decision get made in that meeting. Many salespeople simply wait until the end and hope the person says, ‘yes’ to their proposal. Suggest making a decision at the end the goal, and some will say, “yes” simply because they agreed to decide at the end. By letting them know about this expectation, and by getting their buy-in, our chances increase that they will actually make a decision while you are in front of them. This will also help those prospects who are procrastinators!
• Mentally prepare by telling yourself, “I want the order, but I do not need it (even if you do)”. If you act desperate on a sales call, because it’s obvious that you will do or say anything to get the sale, the buyer will feel like they are being ‘sold’ and bail out. Don’t be desperate. Instead, ask the right questions, suggest that you are going to try to find out if you can help, or not. Warn them that you don’t necessarily work with everyone. Play a little “hard to get”. Lower their protective shield by letting them know by how you say things that you aren’t in it just for yourself. It’s as simple as that. Tell yourself that you aren’t a fit for everyone before your meetings and you won’t be too overbearing in the call.
• Make the decision that you will not discount – you should probably raise your prices! Unless we decide before our meetings begin, we may be susceptible to discounting. When we discount, so many bad messages are sent to the prospect. When we drop our prices we are admitting that we too believe it is worth less. When we drop prices we send the message that we had “extra” in the bid, so we are ok lowering the price. When we drop prices we send the message that we are willing to work for less. None of these are good. Decide before any meeting that you are worth it!
• Determine that you will only give a proposal to those that will buy. With clients, I am always talking about not “shocking” prospects with our bids. If any part of the bid or proposal is a big surprise to them, we probably did something wrong. If they are going to balk at the price, would you rather have them balk in front of you, or when they are behind closed doors evaluating your bid? Wouldn’t you rather see their reaction to your number and be able to discuss it before it is in their hands? Make it a regular practice to verbalize the particulars of your bid, including your price (or estimate), and check-in with them. If their reaction is favorable, you are good to begin to process the paperwork. If not, you will need to discuss their surprise until you can either work out a mutually favorable situation, or you walk.
By preparing more before your prospecting meetings, more can go right. We can anticipate. We can predict. We can be ready to tackle issues before they come up. With a little practice, we can get the outcomes from meetings that we want. Remember, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.