The traditional salesperson’s instinct is to go after a sale at any cost. Keep trying, keep pushing, and you may get lucky. Or, you may waste your time on an unqualified, disinterested prospect; time you could be spending with real prospects. Sandler trained salespeople aren’t afraid to close the file on a sale that isn’t working. You’ll go through the qualifying process, and if the prospect isn’t qualified, you will move on to a more viable opportunity. A qualified prospect will have pains that your product or service can eliminate, a sufficient budget for your solution, and the ability and willingness to make the buying decision. Without those elements, you’re not talking to a prospect, you’re talking to someone who will drain your resources but not take you to the bank.
Close In with Bracketing
Prospects often play their cards close to the vest when dealing with salespeople. Reluctance to disclose budget information is not unusual, but by using Sandler’s bracketing technique, you will be better able to get your prospect to discuss budget information. Present the prospect with two price ranges within which you can offer a solution: “There are a couple of approaches we can take to solve your problem. One approach will require an investment of somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000; the other would require an investment between $8,000 and $10,000. I understand your need to maintain confidentiality, but, off the record, should we be looking at the six to eight, or the eight to ten range?” Most of the time, your prospect will indicate which range is appropriate. If the prospect chose the eight to ten range, for example, you can narrow it down further by asking, “Are you closer to the eight or closer to the ten?” After the prospect responds, you can home in even further by asking, “How close?”
A Little Homework Goes a Long Way
Cold calling is a challenge for most salespeople, but you can “warm up” the call by doing some basic legwork before making the call. Research the company you’re calling. Business journals and the Internet are great ways to find out what a company is about—what they do, their mission, size, and often their infrastructure. It can be very simple to get executives’ names, which is a must for a cold call. When making the call, ask for the president or vice president (always go for the top) by name and in a casual manner, as if you’ve been calling this person for years. A bit of upfront knowledge can make cold calling an effective prospecting method.
The Best Referrals
Asking for referrals from a client is an integral part of the Sandler Selling System’s Post-Sell Step. The best, most effective referral you can receive from a client is having the client make the first call for you, introducing you and your service to the potential prospect and making sure the he or she is receptive to accepting a call from you. Getting invited in by a prospect is more likely if you are able to use your client’s name, but to have the client make the initial contact, and to possibly go on the first visit with you, will get you past the gatekeeper and enable to you establish rapport more quickly.
You Make the Call
Situation: You’ve made a solid prospecting plan, which includes a one-page newsletter to include in your local direct mail packet. It’s 2 p.m., you’ve just finished lunch, and you can either make prospecting calls or sit down to write the newsletter. Which prospecting activity is the best use of your time?
Action: Prospecting is a pay time activity. Calling on prospects and scheduling appointments is the beginning of the selling process, which can lead directly to the bank. Writing newsletter copy, on the other hand, should be saved for no-pay time, when prospects can’t be reached. These types of activities should be saved for times when direct selling activities can’t be performed. Save the traditional business hours of your focus industries for pay time activities. Use off hours for no-pay time activities, such as writing your newsletter.