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Blog #95 A No On The Phone Doesn’t Necessarily Mean No…

While I wrote about this subject a little over four years ago, it bears repeating because it’s a trap the majority of B2B sales people fall in-to. In this age of “right now”, or “today”, sales people leave an inordinate amount of business on the table because they only invest time and energy into calls where a prospect says “yes, I’m interested”.

The “well you knows”, a concept I dubbed about fifteen years ago, continues to serve me well today, and it differs from conventional prospecting ideology.

In a traditional world, those who consider themselves prospecting experts generally subscribe to a number of common principles. The least understood is the one about “qualifying”.

If you subscribe to the accepted dogma of traditional prospecting and qualifying, then you also believe that any B2B sales professional must streamline the business development process. That being it almost always starts with not wasting time on unqualified prospects. Sales people in this group employ numerous processes to ensure those they reach out to are likely to have an imminent need. They look at data bases, predictive models, outsourced lead generation, and many other data to warrant a “just in time” call; a likelihood to buy today.

Next, if they’re smart, they pick up the phone and make an introductory contact. No easy task in today’s day and age.

No matter how well a prospect list has been qualified, scrubbed, and put through the wringer, inevitably many first contacts will result in someone just plain not being interested and usually justified with many reasons as to why it would be a waste of their time, your time, or everyone’s time.

In no specific order; some of my favourites.

• We have no budget.
• We’re happy with our current supplier.
• We won’t be re-evaluating that need until next year.
• I’m about to go on vacation.
• I just got back from vacation.
• We just committed to another vendor.
• We had a bad experience with your organization.
• I’m not the right person anymore.
• We’re not interested in your product or service

As I said, these are just a few and no doubt you’ve experienced others. Most sales people when confronted with these objections simply respond with thank you very much and good-bye, or “I’ll try you in another six months”, or whatever. Unfortunately, that path shuts the door and the chance to experience the “well you knows”. This experience, the “well you knows” won’t be foreign to you, as you’ve likely experienced it many times before. You just didn’t consciously recognize it.

The “well you know” experience is when the very same prospect that on the phone protested they had no need, no budget, no time, instead when meeting in person, after maybe ten or fifteen minutes, leans back in their chair, crosses their arms while looking quizzically into the air and all of a sudden has a miraculous epiphany… “Well you know”… now that we’re talking…

It’s the one that usually sounds like, “well you know, now that we’re talking, I wasn’t aware that was viable”, etc. etc. The “now that we’re talking” response can branch off in many different directions. One could be, “maybe you should talk to my colleague” or “I’d like to have another meeting and invite ….” or “whatever”. The point? The point is that prospects rarely tell the same story in person that they tell on the phone. In fact, that is generally true in almost any human to human connection.

People are different in person. On the phone, there is little real communication. Prospects see cold callers in the same shade of grey or black; just another time-waster and call to end as soon as possible. Prospects generally assume that you will offer no value, and will most probably become a pugnacious pain in the “culo” (that’s bum bum for those who aren’t up on their Italian).

It’s in person, when there is face to face contact that prospects mellow and treat the person in front of them with respect. It’s only in person where meaningful dialogue takes place, where face to face and eye to eye contact have impact. Its body language and expressions that get prospects to drop their guard, loosen up, and engage in meaningful and real discussion.

In my business, if every time I had heard “no budget” or “not interested”, and had not pushed for a meeting anyway, I wouldn’t have the business I have today. In fact, one of the largest assignments I’ve ever won was with a client who on the first phone call told me that they already had someone who did the exact same thing I did, that they were happy, and that meeting would be a waste of everybody’s time.

I got the meeting, the rest is history.

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