First quarter is a great time for prospecting and new business development. Managers are cheering, ?Heck yes!? Sellers are groaning, ?Ugh.? Prospecting should be fun. It?s your chance to start new relationships, give yourself a raise, and grow your business. What?s not to like?
As a small business owner I have the pleasure of experiencing first hand what it feels like to be a prospect. Because our business focuses on training successful sellers to be more successful, being ?called on? by sellers is a great laboratory of learning for me.
We are approached by sellers in one of two ways: email or phone. Honestly, there are times when I scratch my head and wonder, ?Why did you even bother to call or email me if that?s how you were going to start the conversation?? There are bad prospecting approaches out there. It?s both frustrating and motivating for me. Frustrating because many times I?m embarrassed for the seller. Motivating because I am reminded daily how important the work we do is, and what a difference we make for sales teams.
I want to share with you an actual email to show how bad it can be:
Hope all is well. I oversee higher education here at Citrix and I wanted to share the newest Citrix Student Advantage collaboration software at no cost with you. Most recently GoTo has launched easy to use, high quality web and video collaboration inside your LMS with benefits including:
? Single sign on with all LMS systems (Blackboard, Canvas, D2L, etc)
? Free student licensing (Offer free student license to the entire student body)
? Full scale mobility among all devices and tablets (GoTo now agnostic among all mobile devices)
? Lecture capture through GoToWebcast
Nothing formal or prepared, just looking to get to know you and the team and to understand your 2015 strategy, goals and the challenges the organization may be facing. Thanks in advance and look forward to meeting you.
Thanks, Joe Kondroski |Major Account Executive Education - Citrix Systems, Inc
It should be painfully obvious where this seller went wrong:
? Email addressed to my email address rather than my name (clearly automated)
? Hope all is well. That?s an opening attention grabber?
? He starts with what HE does. ?I oversee higher education.?
? We are not a college. I could argue our training is ?higher education? but?
? A laundry list of features that mean nothing to me because I?m not a college.
? My favorite (sarcasm) part of the whole email: Nothing formal or prepared, just looking to get to know you and the team to understand your 2015 strategy, goals and the challenges the organization may be facing.
Why would any prospect want to meet with a seller who is unprepared? Newsflash: Your prospects are not waiting by the phone to get to know you or help you understand them. They have problems, they need solutions.
Thanks to phone calls and emails like that example, it was not too difficult to come up with a Top 10 List of the worst opening lines in selling. (I hope David Letterman doesn?t mind.) These are all bad, and in no particular order:
1. Got anything coming down for me today?
2. Your account has just been assigned to me?
3. I?m just checking in?
4. Is now a good time to talk?
5. Did I catch you at a bad time?
6. I?d like to learn a little more about your business?
7. We are the number one station?
8. We work with several of your competitors?
9. I?d like to see if there are some ways we could work together?
10. How are you today?
Any time you make a phone call, or send an email, you are being judged. Recall the cliche, ?You never get a second chance to make a first impression.? When you call on a prospect, they are asking five questions in their head, rarely articulated to you:
1. Why are you here/calling? (Purpose)
2. What is going to happen? (Process)
3. What?s in it for me? (Payoff)
4. How long is this going to take?
5. What are your credentials?
As you prepare prospecting and client meetings, ask yourself those five questions. If you can?t answer them, don?t make the call, or don?t have the meeting.
People don?t like making prospecting calls because they aren?t very effective. The reason they aren?t effective is because we aren?t good at making them.
If the word ?prospecting? makes you cringe, it?s time to get better at it. Answer those five questions before making contact. I guarantee you?ll have more fun, prospects will respond better, and you?ll secure more meetings.
Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner at Sparque, Inc. You can reach Jeff at Jeff.Schmidt@Sparque.biz
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