Bring in the Human Factor When Selling

A new and eager sales consultant recently asked me what he should provide for those he is cold calling when they tell him that they’re busy and to just leave some information.

It’s best to leave nothing. How often have we had someone call on us in the office and we tell them, “I’m very busy, can you just leave your information?” – and then actually read it? Leaving information is the most common form of the friendly but meaningless blowoff. To the salespeople making walk-in cold calls (canvassing), getting someone to even acknowledge us often feels like a positive for the day. But make no mistake: It is in almost every case nothing but a rush out the door.

What should you do instead? First, there are times when walking in cold is OK. Most often, it is a huge waste of time. But if you are going to do it, here are a few tips:

Acknowledge what prospects are thinking. Tell them you know how excited they must be to get yet another walk-in from a salesperson. That’s right! Just say it! They are thinking it anyway and may give you a bit of credit for at least being honest. This is bringing in the human factor. It is important to stop with the sales lines and get down to lightly breaking the ice.

If they ask you to leave something, say: “I appreciate that, but honestly, if you’re anything like me, when I ask someone to leave something or send something, I usually am not really interested – it’s just the nicer way to say no. Rather than that, would you mind if I ask you just two or three questions, and at that point, if it really doesn’t make any sense, I will get out of your way. What do you think?”

The same applies on the phone. Cold calling is not the optimal way to build your business. But if you are doing cold calls on the phone, bring in the human factor to have a better chance of success.

First, don’t use some lame introduction like, “Hi, this is Jim from ABC Manufacturing, how are you today?” That line alone will get a hang up. Or even, “Hi, this is Jim from ABC Manufacturing. Who is in charge of purchasing equipment?”

We should be embarrassed to call anyone without having done some level of research. You need to find out who the person is that you need to speak with by doing a little detective work. Google is a wonderful tool for that. Look on the prospect’s website, read about them in a local publication, etc. You need a reason to call.

Second, if you call after your research, you need to pull back. Give them an out. Why? Because they have one anyway and they are much less likely to hang up if you tell them it’s OK to do so.

Yes, selling today is about being human. Forget all the lines and tricks. Tell prospects the reason you’re calling is because you read on their website that they are doing (fill in the blank), and since you work with companies in that area, you thought it might make sense to talk for a few minutes. Ask just a couple of questions to see if it does, but you may have no need at all. If that is the case, we can hang up – no harm, no foul.

Make this practice your own. Put it into your own words, but don’t forget: If you act like a salesperson, you will be treated like one. If you act like another business person with some credibility, you will also be treated like one. ?

Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales consulting and training firm. She is a best-selling author of “To Sell Is Not To Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com

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