I said thank you to Samantha, and we both hung up the phone.
What sounds like a failed sales call was actually a formidable success.
It was also the first time a prospect told me upfront that things weren’t going to work.
And that’s because I did something completely different on that call…
NO MORE FREE CONSULTING
David Sandler said it best: Prospects want free consulting. Whether you’re selling software, physical goods, a car, a house or your own professional services, your sales presentation is basically a free educational session. Your prospects can learn about what’s new at your company or in your industry without having to pay a cent for it. They just need to watch your demo.
Now ask yourself this: as a salesperson, why would you be willing to give free presentations to anyone who seems qualified? Heck, your prospect can lie to get through your sales process, and still get your stuff for free.
That’s why you need to ask every prospect to do you a favor. And you both need to take that favor seriously.
THE FAVOR I ASK EVERY PROSPECT
At the beginning of a call or meeting, I usually cover the agenda for that meeting and have the prospect agree to next steps. That’s pretty standard procedure. But then, I ALWAYS ask the prospect do to me a favor. I ask it like this:
Ok great. Now Bob, before we jump into it, can you do me a favor?
And I wait for Bob to say Yes. Once he does, I ask him:
If you find that I can’t do what you’re looking for, can you tell me NO right away?
And again, I go silent until Bob says Yes. Once he does, I reply with:
Thanks, Bob. I appreciate that. Similarly, if I believe I can’t give you what you need, I’ll tell you right away. Does that work for you?
And again, I wait for Bob to say Yes.
Here’s why I do it, and why it works.
- Getting your prospect to agree to this favor shows that you respect your prospect’s time, and that you don’t want to waste it. More importantly, it shows that you care about your prospect’s success - that you’re not just trying to sell him on your product so you can make commission. This helps build trust in your relationship.
- It gives your prospect an easy out. Maybe he doesn’t want to listen to your presentation anymore, and simply doesn’t want to be rude. Now he can tell you that without feeling uncomfortable.
- You’re effectively taking charge of the meeting. It shows that you know what you’re doing by communicating you’ve done this before.
- It gives you leverage in the sales process - your prospect knows he can’t use the excuse later on in the sales process that the product isn’t going to work for him. He had his chance to tell you. If he does use this reason to not move forward with you, you have every right to ask him about it. I like to genuinely ask Why didn’t you tell me sooner? His answer will reveal the true reason he chose not to buy from you. With it will come invaluable feedback for you and your business that you wouldn't otherwise get.
- It allows you to dig deeper, and makes your prospect feel comfortable answering probing questions. He’ll answer your questions knowing you’re genuinely trying to assess whether your product is the right fit.
That said, this works best if you have the true decision maker in the meeting. If the VP of Marketing makes the decision, but you’re giving the presentation to the marketing coordinator, then forget about it. You already knew that.
And you know what? I started doing this everywhere in life. Even when I’m the prospect!
I recently bought a car, and I asked the car salesman if he could do me a favor. I asked him: Look, if you don’t think the car is the right fit for me based on my criteria, can you tell me right away? I want to make the most of our time together. Does that work for you?
He was happy to agree.
Try it, whether you’re talking to a prospect, or you’re the prospect. It will feel awkward at first, but if you want to improve your results, you have to always be expanding your comfort zone.
Let me know in the comments how it works for you.