It Happened Again…

The phone rings.

“Hi, I am Johnny Newsales with Worldwide Solutions, and I’d like to set up a meeting to learn about your business and show you how we can help.”

After about three seconds,

“No thank you.” Click.

On one hand, as a mentor to those in sales and recruiting, I cringe inside knowing that no one has shown them a different, perhaps more effective way.  I want to lead them through a series of questions to help them understand there might be a more effective approach:

Me: “So, you think your widget can help my business?”

Johnny: “Yes, it’s the best widget on the market.  It is new and shiny, and uses the latest social media technology.”

Me: “Why might that be important to me?”

Johnny: “Well, it will lower your costs and raise your revenues.  It will make the weak, strong, and the strong even stronger. It’s been known to cure terminal diseases and has the potential to solve world hunger. ”

(Or, whatever silly script the corporate office came up with.)

Me: “That’s nice.  But that doesn’t help me.”

Johnny: (Silence) “What would help you?”

Me: “I am not sure.  What are my issues, challenges, and things that keep me awake at night?”

Johnny: “I don’t know.  What are they?”

Me: “What do you think some of the challenges are that a small business is faced with?”

Johnny: “Hmmm.  Maybe getting customers?”

Me: “Could be.  What if I am swamped with business?”

Johnny: “Wow a great problem to have! Why is that a problem?”

Me: “I don’t know.  How could that be a problem?”

Johnny: “Jeez. Maybe you don’t have enough delivery capacity. Or, maybe your deliveries and responsiveness are slow or have issues. It could also be an issue with having a strong cash flow.”

Me: “Now we are getting somewhere.  How does your widget help with those?”

(I am starting to see the dim glow of a light bulb)

Johnny: “Frankly, I am not really sure how our widget can help with that, or if it helps at all.”

Me: “Well, don’t you think that might be good to know before you suggest a meeting?”

Johnny: “Probably.”

Me:  “If you knew the types of issues your widget can help with before you called, and thought about the types of issues I might have, what would you have done different when you called?”

Johnny: “Well, I am not really sure…”

Me: “What if you would have told me a couple things about how your widget addresses small business needs I might have, and asked if that was relevant to me?”

Johnny: “Maybe then it would makes sense to meet.”

Me: “Yes, maybe it would.  At the very least, I would be more receptive to hearing more about your widget.  Do you get many appointments set through your calls?”

Johnny (somewhat sheepishly): “Well, no.  As a matter of fact, I have to call 75 or more people to get one appointment.”

Me: “What if you could improve on that?”

Johnny:  “That would be awesome!  How can I do that?”

Me: “Try building your script around something the prospect might care about, something that is causing them issues or that they might be struggling with. Do a little research on industries you are calling on and their issues, and group your calls by industry or sector.  If the prospect can relate to the challenges your widget can help with, then they might want to hear more and you might get more meetings. If they can’t, then it’s probably somebody who doesn’t need you or your widget anyhow.”

Johnny: “Thanks!”

Me: “Happy selling, Johnny.”

It pains me to see new sales people go through this.  Bright, energetic, people that are being set up to struggle. Too often, Johnny gets discouraged, and ends up in an entirely different career.  And companies are dying for sales talent.

Sales is always about the prospect and their needs first, and then about how your product or service can help address these needs.  Start with developing a deep understanding of the prospects world,  their issues and needs, and begin there with your coaching and mentoring of sales people.  Build on that foundation to understand how your product or service can solve these issues and needs.

It’s a lesson that too many Johnny’s are never taught, and have to learn the hard way.