Three small, practical sales tips to start a conversation with a prospect


I recently had a phone conversation with Russell about sales tips. Russell and I interacted on Linkedin and decided to go one step beyond that pure digital exchange. We took it in the “real world”, i.e. we had a phone conversation (Russell is Toronto based, meeting-up bit challenging!). We talked sales tips, how much grafting is needed, especially for new business acquisition. Russell is now building a business in chatbot focused on the restaurant industry (early days but check it out here) and what we discussed was an episode from a “previous life” of his. He mentioned a story when he tried to approach a specific prospect (Lyft in this case). After visiting him cold at his office, he couldn’t meet the prospect so left a hand written note that you can see on the left. I absolutely loved the effort and, reading through the hand written note, we discussed a few tweaks / sales tips that could have made the note more powerful. Here they are:

It’s all about the problem(s)

We know that the only reasons people buy is either to move towards pleasure or to move away from pain, pain experienced today or foreseen tomorrow. For example, people buy to move towards pleasure when they go on holidays, buy a restaurant meal, a book, book a theatre ticket, etc… In a B2B context, it is about moving away from pain of course. Features and benefits, sadly, do not sell. The plus side, when in B2B sales is that centring interactions with prospects around problems addressed is pretty much the key thing one has to focus on. Especially at the start of the process. The problems addressed were missing in Russell hand written note and could be added, for instance, in the way described below.

Practical example: The type of semantics I find useful to use are the likes of “our users were annoyed by [pain x]”, “companies using our services were struggling with [pain y], etc…

Third party is king (my favorite sales tip…)

Nobody like to be sold. I don't. You probably don't. Click To Tweet dear reader (assuming this post gets actually read!). So when a prospect interacts with a sales person, hearing the words “I”, “We”, “Our”, it can turns her off. I picked up a few I, our, we which means the note could have been perceived about Russell rather than Lyft, despite Russell effort to come round to his prospect office. This is issue of using “I”, “We”, etc… is actually the topic of a famous article from Dale Carnegie written quite a few decades ago. So how to avoid this? Well, for me, the magic tool I use is the third party.

Practical example: “Organisation that use Cycura technology …”, “If you were to talk to our customers, they would say that…”  “About this topic, our users mention …”  .

It might sound small thing but for a prospect to hear that someone else, similar to them was having problems is a powerful way to help her relate.

Levelling the relationship

Selling is about two professionals entering into a business process on a equal footing. One party has a problem, the other one a possible solution. It is a relationship of equals. Both parties are gaining to interact and the sales process is about working out, efficiently, if there is or isn’t a need to move all the way to a contract. And money is the mechanism used to compensate one partie for the solution brought by the second.  Sadly, there are sometimes a master servant relationship between a sales person and a customer or prospect. This should not be categorised as sales tips to be honest. But more like a ground rule. This is materialised in various ways. On the prospect side, when he or she doesn’t respond to follow-up emails (here is one way to reduce the “shall we catch-up” approach). Or on the sales side, when we use terminology such as “I’d love to “, “I am excited to” etc… The prospect doesn’t know us from Adam and Eve. So the risk attached to these words is her to think: “Here is an enthusiastic sales person”. Sadly Last time I checked, enthusiasm doesn't sell Click To Tweet.

Practical example: So in the case of the note, one option might have been to finish it by a paragraph such as: “I appreciate Lyft might not be facing these type of issues. If so, let me know, I would understand. Otherwise, if it is worth sharing more specifics, let me know when would be a good time”

These are very quickly put and I am always looking at new ideas, sales tips or processes to optimise interactions with prospect. If anything spring to mind, don’t hesitate to drop a comment!

 

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