Another key challenge for salespeople in many instances is finding the right person to pitch. Few things in sales feel worse than taking the time to build rapport, present your pitch, and then find out you’re speaking to someone who has little or no influence in the decision but instead listened to you simply because they wanted to seem important. In my early days as a sales rep for a tech firm, this happened to me a lot. There is, however, a simple solution for this: qualify the prospect right away, or as one salesman I knew years ago liked to say, ‘Don’t qualify him, disqualify him!’
Now, this isn’t to say that you really should try to disqualify your prospect, but rather that you should develop your own way of quickly weeding out the unqualified, pretenders, tire-kickers and people who just won’t pull the trigger because for whatever reason they’re oh-so-happy with the status quo.
One of the ways I do this is by being as direct as I can be without being rude. I might open with something like, ‘I provide dynamic sales training that increases productivity AND will result in qualified referrals even from prospects who don’t business with your company. I’m wondering if you handle the sales training budget for your company, and if so, what would I need to do to earn your business?’
At this point, I just wait for an answer. Very often a direct question will often elicit an honest answer.
Why? Over the last 15 years, one thing I’ve noticed is that important people in a company are nearly always direct and to the point when they speak. By being direct, you establish yourself as someone important with no time to waste. It also creates a chance to see whether you really should invest your time in pitching the prospect.
If you’ve got the right person on the phone, it’s pretty likely that at this point they’re going to tell you exactly what you can do to earn their business. When this happens, don’t trust your memory no matter how good it is. Write it down for use in future conversations. Now, there’s always a chance that they may just tell you there’s nothing you could do to get their business, in which case, they’ve just saved you from wasting your time pitching them. Either way, you’ve got clear direction as to how to proceed. This doesn’t mean you just give up if they do say no, though. You can try to uncover what the underlying objection is and see whether you can catch their interest, anyway, but if at that point they still refuse to hear you out, you’re better off making the next call.
Remember: Always be clear and direct.