Problem: Dennis was the VP of Sales for a medium sized application service provider and was concerned about the high number of appointment cancellations his reps were getting. As an example, he related something that had happened about ten days before. Apparently Richard, one of his reps, had made an appointment with a prospect that looked like they’d be a good fit for the company. A day after the appointment had been made; the prospect called back and asked that the rep send “some information” about the company prior to the meeting. Richard felt that this was a good sign of interest and complied, sending a fairly extensive package of information. It contained spec sheets on some of the products, a partial client list, company history, several recent news releases, etc. Then two days before the appointment was scheduled, the prospect called and canceled, saying that they had looked over the material that was sent, and they felt that a meeting would not be necessary. This, explained Dennis, happened too often.
Analysis: You may find this hard to believe, but often prospects are looking for a way not to meet with you. We’ve all had meetings with salespeople that have proven to be disappointing and afterward said to ourselves, “Well, that was a waste of time. Wish I’d qualified them better before I let them come in.” So, they want to see something first and often they’re using what you send to disqualify you. Does this mean that they’ll always find something they don’t like? Of course not, but think of what Richard sent: specification sheets on products that might not be a fit; a client list that might not contain similar type companies or companies that were too small or a company history that someone could interpret as not having a “good enough” track record. You never can tell.
Solution: Beware of what you send to prospects before you meet. The ideal situation is not to send anything, to let your skills in asking questions and probing for the prospect’s pain give them the desire to see you. But if you must send something, ask them what they want to see and find out why that’s important. And, send a very minimum amount of information. In this case, less is better. Finally, tell them that you know they’ll undoubtedly find something in the information that may not apply to their situation and that you hope they won’t use that as a reason to have second thoughts about seeing you. You’ll find that simple statement will make them think twice about finding something to disagree with.