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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

THE COLD, HARD TRUTH: Prospecting 101, Part 6

The Cold, Hard Truth with Gabriel Siegel

THE BOTTOM LINE: Investing in sales training can pay off many fold if you observe some simple, common sense guidelines:
  • Avoid sales training programs that promise to “make you feel good”. A course in “Human Relations” is NOT sales training.

  • You must know exactly what you want the program to do for you, and, you must be committed to use what you will learn.

  • Is the program sufficiently flexible so you can stay within your comfort zone? Avoid programs which require a rigid adherence to “steps” or reliance on scripts. Your prospect doesn’t know the “steps” and will rarely stick to the script.

  • Use the resources of The National Networker as a guide.

Since my association with The National Networker, my articles have generated a great number of E mails. In no special order, some of the topics are:

Sales training programs vs. books on sales training
Industry specific sales training
Prospecting round tables
Cold calling vs. networking and social media
Getting past the “gate keeper”
When should you buy lists?
Interviewing techniques

Sales training seems to be on the forefront of many entrepreneurs’ minds. One E mail sums up the responses:
“I started my company about a year ago, after being laid off. I had a large bank of prospects developed after 25 years in the same field. I discovered that I wasn’t the only one to have contacted them. I realized that I would have to become more aggressive as a salesperson when my wife noted our savings were close to being exhausted. I’ve begun cold-calling, and although it’s difficult, it’s also necessary. I want to thank The National Networker for making this real world information available and I’m looking forward to joining a prospecting roundtable.”

The most effective sales training programs often follow a defined set of criteria, a few of which are:
  • The “facilitator” used the system to bring you to the seminar

  • The system teaches you to ask questions (good questioning minimizes objections)

  • You learn how to deal with objections when they arise or anticipate them

  • You can pick and chose which components of a system works for you

  • You’re committed to use the program. It is ultimately your responsibility to adapt the program to your situation

I have a list of “what to avoid” which I’ve shared with those who’ve E mailed me.

A great number of E mails asked about our PROSPECTING ROUNDTABLES. These are sales training seminars where participation is limited to no more than 14 attendees. We focus on developing a framework for cold calling and subsequent interviewing strategies. We work on openings, appointment getting, interviewing through questioning and ultimately learning how to ask for the order. Through role playing, participants get to practice what they’ve learned and stay within their comfort level. We follow up with a second PROSPECTING ROUNDTABLE where participants share their experiences and get to refine their skills.

Other E mails complained of “Getting past the gatekeeper”. Try calling before or after business hours. It’s a great way to avoid voice mail and you stand a much better chance of speaking directly to a decision maker. We cover other strategies in our prospecting roundtables.

For those following my articles, you’ll remember our financial planner. I’m pleased to report that he’s enjoyed an increased number of appointments. It’s time to work on the interview.

On that first interview bring nothing. This is a strategy I learned from David Sandler©. You have successfully disarmed a prospect, especially a businessman who is used to salespeople leaving brochures and/or glossy materials. Don’t even offer a business card. You might want to say something like this; “I have nothing with me because without knowing about you or your business, I wouldn’t possibly know what to bring. If I learn a little bit more, we’ll see if I can help you.”

(If you’ve ever dealt with a reputable home contractor, the lesson is clear. He will take measurements and ask what you would like to see in your home and what you absolutely don’t want or need. He asks questions about your lifestyle and your budget. He then comes back with a proposal tailored to you).

You may want to use that opening when cold calling and a prospect says “Send me your literature”. A response could be “I’d love to send you something, but without knowing anything about you, I haven’t a clue what to send. We really need to meet. Would (date and time) be OK or would you prefer (date and time).”

I always ask for an appointment (with alternative dates) and I always use and emphasize the word “really”. This works for me. It could work for and you’re encouraged to modify any of my statements to suit your personal style. By role playing, you will get a quick “feel” for a comfort zone.

At this point, the observant reader might ask “You never mention qualifying your prospect?” On a cold call, there is no way to know if the prospect is a potential client. You have only a name and a number. When you’ve used your well-thought out opening (introductory) statement, be prepared for an objection which you must address head on by restating the objecting and asking a simple qualifying question. You will discover soon enough if the objection is legitimate. But this requires practice.

Others will prequalify themselves by hanging up on you. Get used to it.

In my next article, I will be sharing with you some of our reader’s insights into our articles; some additional strategies for “getting your foot in the door” (several proposed by our readers) as well as some of your thoughts on cold calling vs. social media for attracting clients.

For anyone wishing to share thoughts or comments, the writer can be reached at I respond to E mails quicker and more thoughtfully than I do when contacted on social networking sites.

For more information, please visit Gabriel's TNNWC Bio.

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