Before we look into the dilemma of prospects vs. suspects, let me introduce the post with this.
One morning the manager strolled into the sales room and just stood there with his arms crossed. One by one the reps began to take notice of him resulting in all of them stopping what they were doing and looking in the boss’s direction.
The manager looked directly at one of the reps and asked, “Marconi, do you believe in life after death?”
“Yes, sir,” Marconi responded.
The boss replied, “Well, then, everything is just fine, because after you took off early to go to your grandmother’s funeral yesterday, she came here to the office to see you!”
Frankly, lying has gotten so pervasive that there is now a website that will make up convincing lies for people. I remember reading an article about this service that provides elaborately constructed “excuses” for its clients. This company charges $75 for a simple untruthful phone call, up to thousands of dollars for big time lying, to spouses and bosses. Furthermore, there is a $75 annual fee to join this liar’s network.
Now Back to Prospects vs. Suspects
Every afternoon about 80% of all salespeople head home beaten down and defeated. This is partially due to spending too little time with prospects and too much time with suspects. The suspects of course, will never buy, or at least never from them.
The other 20%, the top producers, determined that if non-serious people won’t respond to questions and requests, they simply refuse to pursue them. Winners realize they can’t afford to waste time with suspects.
Today I want to focus on the need for salespeople to ask for commitments. This is a task that should be repeated early and often during every sales call. As a result, following that path will not only improve your closing numbers and reduce your frustration, but will also save you time.
Think about it this way. If prospects are unwilling to comply with even the smallest request, how serious are they? Based on that thinking, the more commitments they are willing to make, the more they’ll be invested in the deal. Additionally they will be less likely just to walk away from that investment.
Commitment is a two-way street. Therefore the seller has as much right to ask prospects to comply with reasonable requests as the buyer does. If you’re not getting reciprocal commitments from prospects, you’re insuring your place among the 80% mentioned earlier.
Consider Disqualifying Questions
To help determine which buyers are all show and no go, why not devise some disqualifying questions to use when you start getting red flags. These will help to determine how committed your buyer is and how much more time and effort you should invest in them. Here are several examples of what I mean:
- “Since I found something you agree needs to be replaced, what would stop you from moving forward with me and my company to resolve it?”
- The next time you hear, “Just leave me a brochure or something to look at,” your reply should include a commitment request. Consider something similar to, “Gladly, and to make sure you have ample time to look over the recommendations I’ll make, is Thursday or Friday better to continue our discussion?”
- When a prospect says, “You’ve really given me something to think about,” reply with, “I’m glad to hear that. What is your timetable for taking action?”
Listen closely to how prospects answer these commitment questions because the answers you get will be pretty much the same ones you’ll hear on future follow-ups when you discover you have lost the sale. Sure, I know it sounds harsh, but would you rather know sooner or later if you’re entering a black hole?
Maybe you’re reading this and it dawns on you that you are currently deep in the weeds with a couple of suspects, who are starting to moonwalk. Assuming that you didn’t get any commitments like we just discussed, it’s time to probably go ahead and draw a line in the sand by asking a question like this:
“If you don’t mind my asking, what is your real level of interest about my service?” Let’s say you hear something pretty wimpy; try this for a follow up:
“What haven’t I addressed that would move your interest level higher?” or “What’s causing you to hesitate?”
Sometimes you will have a serious buyer with legitimate concerns, although most of the time they would rather climb a tree and tell you a lie than stand on the ground and tell you the truth. It may be time to make a let-them-off-the-hook statement and cut your losses:
“If you have no intention of doing business with me that’s okay, just tell me now. That way if you’ve already decided not to proceed I won’t bug you anymore.”
Asking commitment questions early-on will help determine the next steps you should take with prospects, resulting in needing to cut the anchor rope less often. Consequently, you’ll be less frustrated, make more sales, and increase your income.
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©2018 Robinson Training Solutions, LLC