Today’s post is by Ron LaVine, CEO of Accelerate Your Sales Results Sales Training Inc., a live-prospecting-call, sales-acceleration training firm in Oak Park, CA. For more information, call him at 818/991-6487 PST.
Many salespeople make three mistakes when dealing with decision makers:
They assume that the person who has inquired about their solution through social media or the person they’ve called is the decision maker without confirming this beforehand.
They deliver an need-solving message that is not targeted toward the customer or prospect but is based upon the benefits and corresponding measurable results produced by the rep’s other customers.
Once sales reps have reached decision makers, according to one study, almost 85 percent of inside sales reps fail to ask for a time- and date-specific action step at the end of every call.
How can you fix mistakes like these? First, call the prospect’s company and ask someone in upper management who is responsible for making decisions about acquiring your types of solutions. Then see if the recommended person is the same person who inquired or you plan to call.
Next, take the time to go through you customer successes and see if you can quantify the results they realized in terms of money, time, and/or resources. Once you have defined the decision maker’s typical personal and professional characteristics, then you can determine what types of short customer stories will resonate with this person BEFORE you speak with him or her.
Knowing your industry and the customer’s marketplace and competition should help you further narrow down your message to one or two succinct sentences. Consider an opening benefits/results value statement like this:
“[Decision maker’s first name], we work with other [title, such as CIOs] like you in companies such as [three of the prospect company’s competitors, well-known customers of yours, or your customers who are located near the prospect company that the decision maker would probably recognize] to help them [a specific faster/slower, easier/harder, less expensive, or better benefit]. This means they’ve been able to [either an increased or decreased measurable numeric result in terms of money, percentages, time, or resources].”
“Tom, we work with CSOs like you in companies such as Your Competitor 1, Your Competitor 2, and Your Competitor 3 to help them speed up the qualified sales that make it through their pipelines. This means they’ve been able to increase their sales by 55 percent or more within the last six months while decreasing the costs of acquiring those sales by more than 22 percent.”
Finally, the sales rep needs to get in the habit of asking for a time- and date-specific action step – but not just once. Studies show that the likelihood of getting a decision maker to agree to action goes way up when a sales rep makes at least three requests for action. You might say something like this at the end of the conversation: “If we could help you do something similar, would that be of value to you?” The key to getting the next step is asking questions until you find out what the decision maker values or finds important as related to your solutions.
Using a well-constructed opening benefits/results value statement directly related to what the decision maker needs will get you a yes or a maybe. After the decision maker responds, immediately follow up with a recommendation such as, “What I’d like to do is to set up a brief [phone or face-to-face] meeting to introduce myself [or associate] and understand more about how your company does business. Then I can determine if we can be of service to you [or produce similar results for the decision maker’s company]. Do you have your calendar handy?”
Or you might ask, “When would be a good day and time for us to get together to discuss possible next steps? Is this typically a good time to reach you?”
Then ask, “Do you have your calendar handy?” or “What is your email address so I can email you a meeting invite with the purpose of the meeting and my contact information?”
Remember these tips and you will become more effective and efficient at producing measurable sales results and boosting your bottom line.
How do you influence decision makers? Share your thoughts in the comments section.