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Blog #87 Finding Prospects with a Need Today; why it’s a Waste of Time and the Well You Knows

Any professional sales person that’s been in the game for even a short while understands the necessity of finding new clients with a need. It’s of little matter what you’re selling; be it a complex technology solution or envelopes to stuff. The quest to find new users of your product or service is never quite done. If you’ve been in the game long enough, then you’ve also been subjected to significant training and counsel with respect to how best to go about doing it.

Perhaps one of the most consistent messages you might have received is the need to qualify potential prospects and to invest as little time possible in determining if a need exists for your product or service prior to investing further time and effort. If you had heeded this advice, you would have been contacting prospects and asking probing questions about their current status juxtaposition to the solution you’re offering.

“Can we interest you in this” or “can we show you a better way to do it”, etc.

We ask, they tell. And what do they tell us the overwhelming majority of the time? They tell us they “have no need”. They tell us they’re “happy with their current supplier” or that they “have no budget”. They tell us our timing is all wrong, that we should call back in a few months. How does the seasoned sales person respond? They say thank you very much… and they move on, all the while almost predictably setting themselves up for the exact same outcome with the next prospect. Everyone is looking for an opportunity today, and if what we hear suggests that may not be the case, we’re just not interested; we move on.

The challenge is significant. Allocating our time, which is scarce, to endeavours that will yield the most productive result. So while no one wants to try and push water up hill, no one wants to miss an opportunity either.

If in my business, which would be considered successful by most anyone’s standard, I “moved on” each time a prospect tried to talk me out of meeting, I wouldn’t still be in business, let alone successful.

But how is one to know? How does one know if an excuse is legitimate and a real reason for not meeting, or just an excuse to get off the phone and get rid of a pesky sales person?

To begin with, you need to start by appreciating the prospect’s circumstance. What would lead them to give a disingenuous excuse when they could instead engage with a sales person and possibly realize a genuine opportunity that might help them better drive their business?

The answer lays in what came before you, the countless and endless calls, emails and “networking” requests made by a never ending deluge of mindless sales people, all with no regard for what a prospect faces day in and day out dealing with “have I got just the thing for you today!!!” sales people. You need to understand and appreciate just how often prospects are subjected to yet one more person claiming to be the next messiah.

Prospects are fed up, worn out and just plain jaded by the sheer number of times they’ve been promised a bill of goods, only to find out later that the “goods” were anything but. They are done, done, and done. They’ve no more time or mental bandwidth left to sift through who can be trusted vs. those that merely peddle empty promises. So, like most nice people, they are polite. They tell you they have no budget or need, or just that the timing is simply bad. They take the high road and they tell a white lie.

But, and this is a big but. If you can navigate around their excuses, and instead secure a face to face meeting for reasons other than to sell your product or service, then you stand a very good chance of experiencing something I call the “Well You Knows”.

What are the “Well You Knows”? It’s what happens after, say 5, 10, or 15 minutes into a meeting when the prospect sits back in their chair, maybe crosses their arms and says… “Well you know, now that we’re talking… “.

It’s what happens when the prospect lets their guard down, and feels that you may just be a person they can take seriously, a person they can think about trusting. “Now that we’re talking, perhaps I should have a look at your new software” or, “now that we’re talking, I think I’d like to get you in front of”… that person in the other department.

It’s a pure and simple phenomenon that takes place, assuming the sales person doesn’t start out by puking all over the prospect with some BS pitch, all the while stinking of commission breath. It only takes place once the prospect lets their guard down and allows the sales person into their inner sanctum of trust and curiosity.

It is a one off opportunity, and it will only happen once with any one prospect. Start out by jumping into some smarmy sales like diatribe and wham-o, the door will shut, you having just reaffirmed the prospect’s worst fears, namely that you’re the same as all the rest.

The “Well You Knows” generally speaking, can only take place in person (or face to face like a video link). It is in person that the dynamic and interaction between two people changes dramatically from that which is experienced over the phone, or worse, through an email exchange. It is only in person that a prospect can look you in the eye and experience your presence in a forum where it is readily apparent if someone is genuine or not.

But when you do take the time to establish trust and allow the prospect to open the door, when you do take the time to meet with prospects that have told you that you’d be wasting your time by doing so, you’ll be surprised at how often the very same person that said there was no budget or need became the very same person that said..”Well You Know”.

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