Problem: We often hear from our clients that when they finally get past the gatekeeper, the prospect requests literature prior to committing to see them and after the literature has been sent, they can’t get the prospect back on the phone.
Everyone who is selling anything has been there over and over. Salespeople have tons of literature from the marketing department to mail to prospects that request information. The problem is that 99% of the literature that is sent out just becomes “litter.” A bigger problem is that the salesperson is under the illusion that the prospect is really interested and will give them an appointment. The reality is that they were relegated to the trash heap with the proven “send me a brochure” brush-off.
Analysis: Most salespeople think anything other than a “no” keeps them in the game. They mistakenly look at a “no” as a failure on their part. Many salespeople actually believe their prospects need to see literature prior to an appointment.
Solution: Track your sales history. How many sales were made when the first step in the process was to send a brochure? If your experience is similar to the people we talk to, the number is painfully low. The only people who benefit from the sending of literature are your printer, the postal service, and your competitor as it will probably end up with them or with the trash hauler.
You are in total control of whether or not to agree to send literature. You should not send literature unless you understand what the prospect wants to know and exactly what is going to happen after the prospect has it. The only way to know for sure is to ask questions until you hear the answers you need to hear. If you have been able to keep the prospect speaking long enough to find these things out, you should be able to get an appointment to see him. But, if you can’t, and you absolutely must send information, send only the information that relates to the prospect’s pain – nothing else. Too much information may get you disqualified or cause the prospect to procrastinate about reading it. Then set a strong meeting agreement for your next step. Ask how long they will need to read it. Agree on a date and time to call them to see whether it makes sense to meet or close the file.
Unless you have a good understanding of your prospects’ pain and a firm commitment from the prospect to do something once they have the literature, don’t waste your time or the company’s money.
Today, the most effective way to handle this brush off is to direct them to your website.
I asked three sales managers I know and respect to tell me how they handle it:
“One of the best responses I ever heard came from a colleague of mine in the insurance industry. During a cold call, the suspect requested that he send a brochure and my colleague responded “that would be tough because my brochure is 5’9″ and 170 lbs and doesn’t fit in any regulation US Postal mailbox.” At that point, the suspect either appreciated the humor or gave him an appointment or they both decided to move on. Either way, my colleague knew that the suspect didn’t have enough “pain” to warrant an appointment. At the end of the call, my colleague was able take a deep breath and move onto the next call, as there is no sense wasting time with a suspect that doesn’t want your help. In the end, the salesperson maintained control of his process and didn’t waste his valuable time prospecting where there was little chance of making a sale.” – Dan Smith
“We Have a Process” Response
“We push to get the appointment by talking about our Customer Needs Analysis process. That would sound something like: We don’t have the typical company handouts because we customize everything based specifically to our customers’ needs and opportunities. Are you free next Tuesday at 10 or 1 is better? I won’t waste your time. I will only asking you pertinent questions because I will have done my research about your business and industry trends before I come.” – Jeff Delvaux
“We are Not Generic” Response
“I instruct the reps to tell the prospect that we don’t have a “general brochure” but we customize any information we send. “What specifically would you want to know about us?” is the first question we ask. It is a way to engage them in a conversation and sometimes you hit on a topic of interest and they grant the appointment. If not, we are giving something to the client that addresses their specific needs.” – Scott Bitting