A fearful animal will sometimes bite in self-defense. A fearful prospect can react the same way, biting you with words and attitude. One of the strengths of the Sandler up-front contract (UFC) strategy is that it provides the prospect with information about what will happen during each interaction with the salesperson, disarming the natural fear, and sometimes dislike, that prospects feel toward salespeople. Using up-front contracts will minimize the innate negativity of prospects, the fear that you have tricks up your sleeve from which they need to defend themselves. If you explain to the prospect what you’re going to discuss, how long it will take, and what will happen at the end of the meeting, you’ve set the scene for a positive interaction. No fear.
Go for the No... Or the Yes
During the selling process, there are points at which both you and the prospect must decide if it makes sense to continue the process. For example, during an initial meeting you must decide if there’s a fit between what the prospect needs and what you have to offer. After a demonstration, presentation, or proposal review, the prospect must make a buying decision. Certainly, you would like those decisions to be “yes.” Sometimes however, they will be “no,” and that’s OK. Why? Because, with a “no” you know where you stand. It means it’s time to close the file with that prospect and go look for a more viable opportunity. And with a “no” you can also learn a lesson that will help you in future sales calls. As David Sandler said, “You don’t learn how to win by getting a ‘yes.’ You learn how to win by getting a ‘no.’”
What you don’t want to hear from the prospect is some form of “maybe” or “I have to think it over.” Such put-offs leave you hanging. You go into “follow-up” mode (a.k.a. chasing and stalking) with no clear-cut agreement as to what, if anything, will happen next or when. How do you avoid falling into the “think-it-over” trap? Give prospects permission to say “no.” When you do so, they are much less likely to let you down gently by telling you they need a bit more time to “think-it-over” when they really want to say “no.” “Yes” is desirable, but “no” is OK. Don’t waste time chasing “think-it-overs.”
You Make the Call
Situation: After a successful first phone call you made an appointment to meet the president of XYZ Company. You arrive on time armed with the latest literature your company has to offer, information you feel will be appropriate to the planned discussion. Unfortunately, the president’s assistant tells you that the president was called away unexpectedly, and cannot meet with you today. However, the president did ask his assistant to get some literature from you, and that he would review it and call you when he was free to meet.
Action: Hang on to that literature! If you leave information and go back to your office to wait for a call, you will probably be waiting a long time! Leaving literature without the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting is like accepting an “I’ll think it over.” Ask the assistant if you can schedule another appointment; if that is not possible immediately, arrange a time to call back to schedule the appointment. Leave with your literature and a commitment to schedule the meeting.
The word “control” can sometimes have a negative connotation. If you are seeking control of a selling situation you may be viewed as a Machiavellian, heavy-handed puppet master out to pull a fast one. In reality, it is critical for you to take control of the sales process, because it is the only way the prospect will get his or her true needs met with a solution that is a good fit. Taking control means that you and the prospect are equally free to say no if the relationship simply won’t work. Your leadership will establish the foundation for positive client-customer relationships, with no games necessary.
Feedback for Referral Sources
If you get referrals from clients, be sure to let your clients know the outcome of their efforts. Whether you get a sale from a referral or not, your client can feel that he or she is in partnership with you, and the client will get a good idea of which colleagues will make good referrals based on your feedback.