If you want to be an effective sales professional, there are certain selling skills you need to be successful. Successful salespeople know how to prospect, qualify, present, overcome objections and close. They also know how to listen, build rapport, add value, solve problems and really understand what a buyer needs. Often, people new to sales get caught up in pitching instead of listening. These people consequently miss a lot of sales opportunities.
Searching For Low Hanging Fruit In Your Company’s CRM
I will never forget an experience I had as a new sales manager at a SaaS company outside of Boston. We sold managed service solutions to I.T. managers. Those managers then resold their products and services to other businesses.
I inherited four inexperienced sales reps, two business development reps and a territory with a rather large team and personal quota.
While I was going through our CRM, I came across a group list titled “Tire Kickers.” This list had a few hundred contacts on it and after reviewing it, I realized I struck gold. Every person on the list showed some level of interest, saw a demo, but did not buy.
I held an impromptu sales meeting and asked the team if they could tell me anything about the “tire kickers.” They all looked at each other and laughed. One of my reps said, “That’s a running list of people who are a waste of time, Marc. They won’t buy. Each team has one.”
I asked if anybody wanted to help me call and try to re-engage these prospects one more time. And again, I heard, “Marc, they are a waste of time! They won’t buy, we tried!”
Did you know 80% of sales require five follow-up calls before a sales is made?
The Number One Rule Of Selling; Learning To Listen
So, I decided to take my chances. As far as I was concerned, I had a list of warm leads, a pipeline to build and a large quota to fill.
I started at the top of the list and worked my way down. When someone picked up the phone, I introduced myself and said:
“I was hoping to have a few minutes of your time. I just took over as the new sales manager of the territory and was cleaning out our database when I came across your name. I am not trying to sell you anything; I just want to try and understand why you didn’t buy. It seems like you were interested. Again, I am strictly calling to learn more and take what I learn to train my team.”
(Similar messages were left on voicemails and surprisingly a few people called me back!)
I am a firm believer that people love to help. I think that since I was not “selling anything” and interested in why they didn’t buy, everyone I spoke to let their guard down and told me about their experience.
What I Learned From Selling To A Group Of Tire Kickers
Here are the top four reasons none of the “tire kickers” became clients:
- I felt the sales person was not listening to me.
- I felt the sales person did not understand my concerns.
- I felt the sales person had his hands in my pocket.
- Your product is triple the price of what I resell now although better, how am I going to resell it and make a profit?
When it was my turn to speak, I reiterated the purpose of the call and responded with the following to show I was listening instead of selling.
- Trust me I know how you feel when it appears that a sales person is not listening to your concerns. They don’t listen to me either sometimes.
- You have valid concerns given how important your job is and how tough some of your clients can be. After all, if your system fails, they could lose everything.
- I know exactly how you feel when a salesperson is more concerned with his commission than providing a solution! My goal is to teach them how to sell value. I want them to be a valued consultant just like you.
- I agree our product is not cheap. In fact, we are one of the most expensive solutions on the market. But, that’s because it’s reliable. We invested time, energy and money into making sure our products are the best-in-class. If our reps would have spent some time teaching you how to position our product to your clients and make a profit, would that have made a difference? One of our clients in Arkansas had the same concerns. We showed him how to position our product and be extremely profitable. (Ironically everyone I spoke to wanted to know the secret.)
My responses were designed to keep the conversation moving forward. In fact, many of the “tire kickers” wanted to know more about our products and company. Some even wanted to take another demo!
Each time someone asked to learn more or take another demo, I said “I would love to, but as I said at the beginning of the call, I promised you I wouldn’t try to sell you anything. However, I would love to tell you more about our service. Let’s set up a time convenient for both of us.”
- I made 400 phone calls
- Had 70 conversations
- Closed 8 Deals
- Generated $39,500 in gross new revenue
The lesson learned here is the importance of listening to your prospects. When you’re in the mindset of selling a solution to their specific problem, you’ll find yourself in more meaningful conversations. There will be more opportunities, more revenue and more commission.
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