Not all business owners are one and the same, and adapting our approach is necessary to land prospects at a higher rate. In order to make sure we turn prospects into clients, quickly developing a profile of the person you’re dealing with is key. There are common traits, and questions that can assist us in modifying our sales approach depending on who we encounter.
Don’t be deterred if you haven’t had a high conversion rate in your sales meetings with prospects, experience is important, but in order to improve we need to find out who we’re dealing with and how to respond accordingly.
Efficiency is important, and if you spend too much time and effort pitching a stubborn prospect, a cold lead or someone who’s not a great fit, then you’ll be losing precious time spent landing key prospects who may sign with someone else while you were busy over-pitching non-interested parties.
Asking questions and analyzing to develop a prospect profile:
1. What type of business are you dealing with?
Make sure to thoroughly research, check out your prospect’s website, and read about the prospect online. A bigger size business may indicate someone less-personable. They may have had to deal with more business meetings in the past few weeks than you can count on two hands, and thus, their patience for pitches may be short.
Use market research tools through search engine marketing to throw some competitive analysis their way and let them know what they’ve been missing out on.
2. Is the person you’re dealing with personable or logical?
Small business owners are inclined to be more personable given that they often have to take care of several areas of their business by their own (since they cannot yet afford to hire the man power necessary to work in other divisions). Given that, they would be dealing with people on all-fronts on a regular basis, so speaking to them more personally could be more effective. As relationship building is a big factor when dealing with a smaller size business owner.
For larger size businesses, they have to filter out a lot of information. The person speaking to you may be looking for something less-personable, and more logical/numbers oriented. Show them figures, statistics, and numbers to supports your claims. Don’t expect to woo these prospects with big words – as they know all of the seller lines and have heard them all-too-often from your competitors. If you can’t backup what you can do with them empirically and statistically, don’t expect to land this type of prospect who has developed a thick skin for rejecting people.
3. Are there multiple decision makers?
This knowledge is key, and the earlier you can find this out – the better. With bigger companies (top level down), you may have several decision makers, and even competing interests (say one division prefers another brand over yours to work with, while you have your connections) can clash and cause far longer for you to get your contract signed and your product/services sold.
With smaller companies with two – three partners at most, ideally you want all of them to be present at your pitch meeting at the same time. You don’t want to spend inordinate amounts of time having them translate your information for you from one to the other, a lot of information can get lost in translation, and you’ll spend more time answering a bombardment of questions and then seeing no results come from your efforts.
Treading sales meetings when not all parties are present (other decision makers) is a fine-line to walk, you’ll put forth a lot of energy trying to communicate and get information across to one person who may be very happy with you, but expecting that person to convey everything that took place in your meeting is simply unreasonable, and therefore lowers your chances of converting the party of interest into a client.
4. How interested is the prospect?
Are they asking you a lot of questions during the meeting? While more questions are better and show piqued interest, the context of the questions are important to follow. Is the prospect asking you questions of interest? Trying to seek out more information so they can make a purchase decision? Or are they insisting on questioning the same aspects over and over again and displaying doubt in your ability, products, and or service? If your prospects spend a lot of time trying to prove they know-more-than-you, or that ‘their guy does it better’, then it is a quick note for you to put your energy elsewhere and focus on a different prospect.
5. Where did the lead come from?
Referrals from associates, friends, family, colleagues, and people you’ve met by chance tend to convert at better than normal rates because there is a trust factor involved with the person bridging between the two parties.
Contacting a cold lead doesn’t necessarily show great results, but is more of a numbers game. The more people you out-reach, the higher the likelihood you’ll eventually land someone of interest. Nevertheless, as time is of the essence for businesses looking to grow, throwing your bait out into the pond and waiting hours for a fish to hook may not be the best approach. Contacting cold leads may work better when you’re able to hire the personnel to make those contacts for you. Moreover, seeing the response of the cold lead you’ve contacted, you should learn within the first few minutes of the conversation whether this lead is worth pursuing or not.
Did they contact/inquire from you first by finding you somewhere? If so, that increases your chances during the sales meetings, as they took the time to contact you given their interest; so this is your chance to shine and show off your pitch skills.
You always have to remain cognizant of the people you’re dealing with on an everyday basis, be analytical and personable in your approach, diversify and modify based on who you’re dealing with, arm yourself with easily explainable data, be knowledgeable of your product and service, and that will give you the confidence to sell to varying prospects. Thereby, you want to increase your client base through weeding out cold versus hot.