A recent question was asked “What are some of the ways you make prospects feel comfortable opening up? In general, one of the toughest aspects for an account executive is to get the prospect to open up and share key business problems because most people are uncomfortable talking about these things. What have you found to be a successful way to get to the key business issues?”
This is a Great Big question, but I’m going to keep my response to this rather short; being limited to only two typing index fingers.
Trying to get a stranger to open up and share their business challenges is difficult. Here is -in my experience – the underlying problem. Prospects expect salespeople to sell. Over the years the market place has been visited by millions if not billions of salespeople who use general sales tactics and techniques. Some of these typical tactics are to find and start with common ground, ask open ended questions, elevator pitch, and assumptive closing techniques. Prospects are expecting these techniques to be used by very friendly sales account reps.
Imagine you are speaking with someone who has bad breath. What are you thinking about while the conversation is going on? Are you interested in what they are saying? Probably not. I would be thinking how I could politely get away from them.
Salespeople have “bad breath”, but they don’t know it and nobody is telling them. What is bad breath in this example? It’s smelling like a salesperson. Salespeople in meetings with prospects say and do the very things that validates this idea by doing the typical sales cycle.
Diminish the bad breath problem within the first few minutes of the meeting by using a structured sales meeting process that eliminates idle conversation.
Salespeople conduct their first sales meeting following a Sales Cycle – Engage-Discovery-Position-Close. This is a typical sales cycle. However, prospects buy from a Buyer’s Cycle and not a Sales Cycle. A Buyer’s Cycle looks like this – Interest-Educate-Transfer of Ownership- Rationalize-Decide. This is how all of us, when looking for a product or service make purchases. I am sure you want to be interested before you get educated. But what do many salespeople do? They educate before gaining interest.
Map your sales meetings to a process that follows the Buyer’s Cycle flow. Why? Because we are trying to get prospects to trust our motives and open up. However, prospects initially see salespeople as someone who is trying to “sell me”. This creates suspicion which limits the conversation. The solution to this begins by changing the conversation and talk track with a meeting structure designed to give the prospect a completely different experience. If you change the talk track and map it to the Buyer’s Cycle, the whole ambiance of the meeting changes.
I know this because I struggled with these same issues many years ago when I began selling technology products to qualified prospects who weren’t buying from me. If you need help with this, I have more suggestions that will help. Send me an email at email@example.com or call or text me at 903-539-6840.