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So the temptation is to get in front of a prospect, give them a pitch - any pitch - explain how it works and why they should buy it…and so on.

How many times have members of your team done this – and then surprisingly nothing more happens.

Why not? What went wrong?

  • It went wrong because selling is all about them – not you.
  • It’s about their purchase process, as opposed to your sales process, although hopefully yours is mapped to theirs.
  • It’s about their needs/pain points, not your desired criteria or budget/timing and decision making process.
  • It’s about getting them to acknowledge their pain points, and getting them to a point where they realize they want to stop the pain, way before you prescribe the medicine.

It’s more about Listening than Talking

Remember, two ears and one mouth, and use them in that proportion. Recent research suggests a sales person should be talking 43% of the time and listening 57%. Think about that in your next sales call.

So, selling is about them, not you, but your team member forgot that when they started talking. They assumed the suspect was a prospect – why else would they have agreed to meet, right?

That suspect needs to be qualified, they need to be asked some questions, they need some discovery, they need to recognise pain points they have (or don’t have, as the case may be, where they were never going to move from suspect to prospect).

Build Trust and Respect

Some professional handling of the first conversation is needed so as to build trust and respect.

Put yourself in their shoes. You are meeting a sales person for the first time and it may be you have some common interests. But straight away the salesperson launches into their pitch, straight into what they think they are good at – explaining what they do, how their product can help and why you should buy it.

So, you are thinking, “Wow, who is this guy? I’m not sure I even understand what he’s talking about. He knows nothing about me or my company, he doesn’t know what pain points I know I have, and certainly isn’t going to discover any I don’t know I may have. He hasn’t had the courtesy of asking me any questions and hasn’t built any trust or credibility”. This happens all the time.

Qualify a Suspect into a Prospect

I’ve written about this a lot of times. It’s about the imperative need to qualify a suspect into a prospect, or qualify them out as somewhere not to waste any resource or time – as no opportunity exists.

When we qualify in, we greatly improve our odds of making a sale. Remember, if they don’t want it, don’t need it, or can’t afford it, they aren’t an opportunity, so don’t waste your time (or theirs).

And yet, this is still the greatest problem area I see in sales teams. Not just in NZ, but worldwide. There just isn’t enough qualification in the process, and we don’t adequately handle either their buying, or our selling process well enough. We ask unstructured, off the cuff questions, closed questions. Or we ask a question and then go right ahead and answer it ourselves, and the suspect just agrees. We take poor notes of their answers, we don’t probe enough and don’t try to quantify a problem area as a cost or lost opportunity.

To build trust and credibility we need to be asking open, thought provoking, business oriented questions that in turn show a suspect/prospect that you are someone who’s interested in them, who is prepared for the conversation and wants to understand their situation better – that’s how a great sales relationship can start.

This all happens before anything like a sales pitch comes along.

A separate but aligned subject is to remember that this also strongly applies when you are emailing a prospect, and even should be related to how your website reads. But that’s a whole separate article that maybe should be written by a marketing guru!


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