4pm on a Thursday, and I was sitting in my car outside Starbucks. It had been “one of those days”–the kind I’m sure you’ve had as well: phone call after phone call followed by a meeting and then more phone calls. There was just one more call parked between me and that latte I really desired. I was calling Andrea, a prospect I had met several months back. Her interest was in our Door Opener® Service. She had previously told me, “Caryn, I can close a sale most of the time when I’m in front of the right prospects. I just can’t get in front of enough of the right prospects! Can you help?” I told her she she had come to the right place–we could help help get her in the door and in front of those hard-to-reach decision makers. She had reviewed our proposal and on this day, while I was sitting here in my car, she was to give me an answer.
I made the call. Not far into the conversation Andrea said, “Caryn, this service is a perfect fit for us. It’s exactly what we need.” That sounded good–we were off to a great start! I saw an easy close in my immediate future. It was then she gave me the dreaded “However.” She said, “We will be making several expenditures over the next few months so I’d like to revisit this idea in about six months. We should be ready to move forward at that time.”
Has this ever happened to you? A prospect basically tells you that you are the answer to his/her prayers, and then tells you that the timing isn’t right?
It really wouldn’t have been the wrong move for me to say, “I understand. I’m a business owner too, and we have expenses we have to manage as well. I’ll go ahead and contact you in six months to continue our discussion.”
But, that’s not what I did. That wouldn’t have flipped the “Not now” to a “Yes, let’s get started!” at that moment. And my goal was to get a “Yes!” while I sat in my car. I said, “Andrea, when we first started speaking you told me that finding more new clients was the most important thing to you this year. In fact, you said your investors want to see more sales.” She said, “That’s right.” I said, “You also told me that you’ve tried other initiatives to grow sales and nothing has worked so far. You tried putting your customer service people into sales roles and they didn’t want to do that job. You tried hiring salespeople but you didn’t have time to train and manage them. You even tried doing the sales yourself but your time was better spent working on the business, not finding new prospects.” She said, “That’s right.” I said, “Let me ask you this one question. If we don’t proceed together on this project, how will you achieve your goal of having more new clients?” There was silence on the other end of the phone. It lasted a long time. I waited silently. Then, I heard a big sigh. When she spoke she said, “You’re right. If we don’t do this initiative, we can’t achieve our goals. Ok, let’s get started.” After closing the sale I left my car and started walking toward Starbucks. I thought to myself that staying in the car to have that conversation was better than having a latte!!
There are many lessons about business development in this personal story.
- It takes longer to roll up your sleeves and get into the conversation that uncovers the real objection and overcomes it. But, it’s worth the extra time!
- Asking what we call “High Gain” questions early in the sales process will provide you with valuable ammunition later on, if there are objections or sales stall. Being a good listener and note-taker are critical skills in order to best leverage the information learned.
- Keep track of all notes and next steps in one location (CRM, Excel spreadsheet, piece of paper, etc.) and review prior to any meeting, call or email.
- Prepare for each communication by identifying your objective, your prospect’s objective, questions as well as answers for prospect objections. It was no accident that I knew what to say in response to Andrea’s objection. That was one of the objections I identified before our call and had prepared an effective response.
- Remember, the prospect is the most important factor in the sales equation.
I often say that closing a sale is a simple executional detail of business development well done. Think of what went right along the way in this process that helped me achieve this outcome.
One important note is that what occurred came from several strategic, purposeful steps that anyone (seller or non-seller) can take. It is possible to flip a prospect answer. You can do it too! Dig in and stay focused on the ultimate goal. Success will follow.
Pipeliner CRM empowers salespeople to make the right arguments that lead to closes. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.