Kelley Robertson on Prospecting
You can't get the sale unless you persist. But how do you pursue
your prospect without coming across like a stalker?
Persistence is a vital skill that every salesperson needs. It's been
said that most sales are made after eight contacts with a prospect.
However, most people tend to give up after just three or four attempts.
Let's explore the behind-the-scene dynamics involved in a typical
Meet Mrs. Executive. Her day is booked solid, scarcely allowing her
to catch her breath between each meeting. Some meetings are internal.
Others are with clients and customers. A few are with current suppliers
or business partners. She has a dozen balls in the air and spends
most of her time trying to juggle them all. She has several major
goals she wants to accomplish this year but progress is slow because
the demands on her time are non-stop.
Fortunately, she has an extremely competent executive assistant. Ms.
Gatekeeper knows what projects Mrs. Executive is working on and does
what she can to help her boss achieve these goals. She is very proficient
at protecting her boss's time and has become adept at warding off
unwanted calls, especially from salespeople. Today alone, she has
warded off fourteen people and it isn't even noon yet.
Today is your first prospecting call to this company. You believe
that your solution will benefit them and you want to meet with Mrs.
Executive to demonstrate this. You pick up the telephone and when
Ms. Gatekeeper answers, you recite your well-developed opening and
capture her interest. After a brief conversation you manage to schedule
a telephone meeting with Mrs. Executive a few days from now and are
given her direct number.
Fast forward three days. Your call with Mrs. Executive flows beautifully.
Your pre-call research paid off and through effective questions, you
learned additional information that gives you better insight to present
your solution. Mrs. Executive requests an overview of your solution
and you promise to email it to her within twenty-four hours. You also
agree to discuss it with her next week.
The following week, you call Mrs. Executive at the scheduled time
only to end up with her voice mail. You leave a brief message and
tell her you will follow up shortly. You call again the next day and
receive her voice mail yet again. After some debate you leave another
message but as you hang up self-doubt leaves you wondering why Mrs.
Executive has not returned your calls even though she displayed interest.
Meanwhile, back at the company, Mrs. Executive has been responding
to several unexpected fires and critical issues. Shortly after these
problems have been resolved, the CEO dumps two additional projects
on her plate and clearly states that these new projects are of highest
priority. The other projects go into a hold pattern while she takes
care of the CEO's demands. A few days later she is shocked to receive
a letter of resignation from her right-hand person, the Director.
She now scrambles to put into place systems and processes that will
help her manage and deal with this unexpected void. Plus, she needs
to begin the recruiting process to fill the gap. She is still interested
in your solution but she simply does not have the time or resources
to even discuss it right now.
Here's the dilemma. Do you keep calling? Or, do you leave a final
message and tell Mrs. Executive to call you when she's ready to talk
about your solution? So far, you have made five contacts with her
which means you will probably have to make at least three more connections
before the sale moves forward.
It is critical to recognize that executives are exceptionally busy.
While they may want to discuss your solution, other priorities crop
up all the time. If you stop now, there is a good chance that she
will forget about you and your particular solution when she is ready
to move forward. Your goal is to keep your name in the prospect's
mind and develop a "stay-in-touch" campaign. This can include
email, voice mail, letters, and cards. Each point of contact should
offer something of value and MUST be brief. Respect the decision-maker's
time. Recognize that they are balancing multiple projects at any given
time. Like you, they can only work on a certain number of them at
Many people close sales long after the initial contact simply because
they have been persistent and executed a solid strategy and keep-in-touch
plan. While the standard number of contacts is eight, this number
is not carved in stone. You can rest assured that if you give up after
three or four attempts, a competitor who is more persistent will eventually
get the business. Are you willing to give business away or are you
prepared to persist until you succeed?
Kelley Robertson is a professional speaker and trainer on sales,
negotiating, customer service, and employee motivation. Receive a
FREE copy of "100 Ways to Increase Your Sales" by subscribing
to his free newsletter available at his website. Visit www.KelleyRobertson.com.
He is also the author of "The Secrets of Power Selling"
and "Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers
into Buyers." For information on his programs contact him at
905-633-7750 or Kelley@RobertsonTrainingGroup.com.
Sign up your whole team
Not a Subscriber Yet?
If youd like free sales advice, delivered to your inbox
every Monday morning no strings attached click
here to start your SalesDog.com subscription now!