The last post talked about how to create repeatability with prospecting. Once you’ve mastered that (and increased your next steps dramatically!), the next step is moving your prospect through the steps of understanding, liking and ultimately recommending your product for purchase. For the purpose of this post, I am going to assume an Enterprise Software sale – which frankly is a bit of a dying breed now that SaaS, open source and other more frictionless sales methodologies are gaining steam. I will blog about selling into these environments as well in a subsequent post, since the rules on repeatability are somewhat different.
So, back to the enterprise software sales campaign. You have now gotten past the cold call and are ready to tell a new prospect why your product is the greatest thing since sliced bread. How do you start?
(1) Do your research – as I mentioned in the prospecting blog, once you have a follow up call setup, you need to learn more about the person/company and what their motivations are. It’s so easy to do this these days – between people’s own personal blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter you should be able to easily (and freely) get some relevant info. Think about how you want to conduct the first call – it should be a combination between your “sales pitch” – what you say in an initial meeting about why your product is so great – and a “white space” exercise – figuring out what it is that you do well that your potential customer has a need for.
(2) LISTEN WELL – So, you’re getting on that scheduled call. Don’t talk so much. Again, think back to the prospecting blog – people like to talk about themselves. And you need to be building on your research. So, tell them at a high level what you do, and then try to quickly make it about them – or even better, start the discussion with a very high level overview (“we provide a full application development lifecycle tool for Ruby/Java programmers”) and then ask some basic probing questions to understand where they are today. Remember, this is a scheduled call, so they are ready for you, and prepared to talk. They still may be hoping to get you off the phone as soon as possible, but you have their permission to speak with them, so make the most of your 20 minutes. The more you learn about them in this call, the better off you’re going to be later.
(3) Get to the pain – everybody has a pain that needs a solution. The question is whether or not your product is indeed the solution. Here’s where you can spend (and WASTE) an awfully lot of time. You need to figure out what pain your prospect has that your solution is well suited for… and how important that pain is to him. The age old “are you selling a vitamin or an aspirin?” No matter how good your product is, there will be some people who will think it’s a vitamin – a “nice to have”. You need to rank your opportunities – aspirin’s come first, vitamins second. Find out from this prospect which one she is. If she thinks you are an aspirin, proceed to #4. If not, you can spend months (years?) working with her and not making a sale, or you can move on. You can close deals with vitamins – after all, the vitamin industry is doing quite well. It will just be harder and take longer. If you don’t have much in your pipeline, you probably will want to work on it. Otherwise, not. Your call.
(4) Always have a next step – so many sales cycles die for no reason. They just stop. And you keep calling, nobody answers. Why? Because the person has nothing to say to you. There has been no progress on their front, somebody above (or along-side) them said no and they don’t want to tell you, all the typical reasons. How do you avoid this? Always make sure there is a next step. And don’t always volunteer to take the next step – try to get them to own it. This one is tough, but it is the key to repeatable sales. An example:
Enterprise Software Salesman: Hello Mr. Programmer, I was just checking in to see how things are going and if we could chat about the trial you were running of our software?
Enterprise Software Salesman: Hello Mr. Programmer, last time we talked you had mentioned that you were going to setup a conversation with your other team members to get introduced to my product. I’d like to suggest next Tuesday or Wednesday for that meeting. Can you rally everyone together for one of those two days?
Note the difference – not only does the second email remind them they had an action item (people are action-oriented, at the least this person will likely feel guilty for not following through on a commitment), but it also helps them “solve” the problem. This process will result in a much higher probability of getting a response.
Keep repeating #4 until you get somebody on the other side to say “I want to buy”. Then read my next post on repeatability with closing, coming next!
- How to Create Repeatability with Prospecting
- How to create repeatability with Closing