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Sales Coaching

Prospecting Does Not Have to be Frustrating for a New Rep

My last article spoke to a common situation experienced by inexperienced sales reps. Specifically, how suspects (someone we contact on a sales call that is not yet qualified to be a prospect) will often try to get rid of the sales rep by brushing them off. The specific brush off I discussed was the “Just send me a price list” brush off.

New reps often think that asking for pricing is a sure sign of interest on the part of the suspect. While occasionally it is, most often it is not. It can also waste lots of time since the rep has to create these quotes. As a young rep I remember wasting time and significantly raising my frustration level over this issue.

I teach reps a few things that prevent the problem.

The main fix is to learn to qualify the suspect. The rep needs to:

1. Ask who the current supplier is

Reps need to know who the competition is if they are going to dislodge their competitor. Salespeople should research every competitor in their market to learn their weaknesses and strengths. This knowledge will help formulate plans to defeat the competitor in the account they are presently working but, as a bonus, in other accounts down the road.

Can you imagine a football team preparing to defeat a rival without first watching hours of game film, studying offensive and defensive tendencies, and learning details about the opposing players? Sales reps need to be just as prepared as football players. This is part of the “Preparing to Win” mindset.

2. Ask what the suspect likes most about supplier

This question is a big time pattern interrupter. Most people are waiting for a pitch from the sales rep, but instead we give them a thoughtful question about themselves. We know that most people’s favorite topic is themselves, so this gets them happily into a conversation and causes them to lower their reflexive sales defense shield.

Usually, people will share why they like the incumbent but most times will also tell you things they don’t like so much about them This is the opening you need to begin a deeper conversation about their pain points. You must find pain points if the suspect is to become your prospect and later customer.

If the suspect does not volunteer information about what they do not like about their current supplier then…

3. Ask what, if anything, she would like to see improved about the supplier

This question will draw out pain points as well.

Now that a conversation has been started a true qualifying process can continue.

About Louie Davis

Sales Leader and Coach Vice President of Sales at Central Paper Company Birmingham, Alabama President +Plus Sales Training and Coaching


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