Problem: In my blog post Why Should They Give You an Appointment?, I addressed the challenges salespeople face in getting appointments. While we all experience the resistance people give in setting appointments, most of us don’t truly understand what triggers the resistance and what we can do to lower it.
Analysis: According to BusinessDictionary.com the definition to sales resistance is:
“Reasoned (objective) or emotional (subjective) opposition to a buying proposition. Skilled salespeople try to overcome sales resistance by probing and understanding the prospect’s stated and hidden concerns through careful questioning and listening, and by showing how their offer fits his or her needs.”
While this may be true, what causes the resistance and how we bring it into the conversation are the real questions.
Solution: Conventional sales training group put-offs, stalls and objections together. Therefore, typically one technique is taught on how to handle all of them. While they are similar, they are not the same.
Put-offs happen early in the sales process, typically when you are trying to gain the prospect’s attention or set an appointment to meet with them. As you progress through the sales process, you may run into more sales resistance in the form of stalls and objections. As you can see, sales resistance appears at different places in the sales process thereby requiring different approaches.
Here is the sequence by which sales resistance happens:
- Prospects give you a put-off at the step in your sales process where you are trying to connect with them.
- They stall the sales process in and around the discovery or service/product demo steps.
- They raise objections at the proposal or closing stages.
What works in handling a put-off will not be effective in handling an objection and vice versa. When you use the wrong approach, you help in creating more sales resistance. Selling is hard enough without you making it more difficult.
Put-offs sound like, “I’m not interested. We are happy with our current vendor. We are not in the market right now. Call me next week/month/quarter. I buy from my son/brother/sister/uncle. We are locked into a three-year contract.” etc.
If you are getting put-offs at the appointment step in your sales process, the reality is that you are lacking creditability. Think about it. Everyone, including yourself, is crazy busy these days. When you are making the choice on who you want to spend time with, who do you choose? I imagine it is with people you know, like and trust. So the first question to ask is: does the person you are trying to meet know you or know of you? This is why a having a referral is so effective in getting appointments. A referral is a transfer of creditability and trust.
Some people have the luxury of either being known, Presidents, Senators, professional athletes, actors, best-selling authors, etc. Or, they have position creditability. “Hi, this is Special Agent Bob Smith with the FBI, may I speak to Jim Lobaito?” would probably get put through immediately!
So if they do not know you or you are not that well-known, the question becomes how can you build credibility so that people are receptive to taking your calls?
This has become increasingly harder because in today’s environment, it is tougher for you to create your own credibility. This is because, by and large, people have become more cynical. They don’t trust what you say about yourself as much as what other people say about you. This is why positive reviews on Yelp way heavily in your decision on which new restaurant to choose.
But there are some things you can do and are within your control that can help build your credibility.
- When you call don’t sound like a salesperson. A salesperson starts out by saying; “How are you today?”… as if they really care. Substitute with “(first name), did I catch you at a good time?”
- Get clear on what you are trying to accomplish. If it is to set an appointment, do that. Don’t pitch and present. Just ask for and stick to getting the appointment. Also stick to one topic. Don’t verbally throw-up everything you do, how great you are, and why they should meet with you. Focus on one thing. See points 3 & 4 on how to do that most effectively.
- Salespeople ask for fifteen minutes of your time to stop by and learn a little bit about you and your business and or show/demo this new product or service. Substitute that with “(Prospect’s first name), I work with (title) and in my discussions lately, company (title) have been telling me that they are most frustrated with (issue), concerned about (issue), or worried that (issue). I was wondering if you are experience any or all of those issues?” Do you know what your best customers are frustrated, concerned or worried about today?
- Do your homework and while you do look for triggering events. A triggering event is an event that causes someone to come into your marketplace. If you own and drive a car, it is just a matter of time before you are in the market for new tires. If you have a flat tire then, you are immediately in the marketplace. Changes in management, mergers, contract expiration dates, new products, new competitors, interest rates, new technology, new regulations, strategic initiatives, are just some triggering events. Do you know the triggers that bring people into your marketplace? If you do then your call would sound something like, “Bob, I saw the other day that you had a shift at mid-level management in your company. Bob, I work with company presidents and one of the things I specialize in is ensuring that managers with new responsibilities are in-line with the president’s vision. Is ensuring your people are on the same page as you important at this time?”
- Mail… yes, good-old snail mail… that has a hand-addressed envelope that contains an article that you know your prospects will find of interest and/or benefit from.
- Get a referral.
Will these tactics work 100% of the time? No, but you only need a 5% improvement to have a huge impact in your sales. I guarantee that if you study on how to use these six things and practice them, they will produce better results than what you are currently doing.