I remember spending hours reaching out to prospects (which if I had Spiro at the time, I would have made twice the calls in half the time) and then suddenly connecting with one and being extremely tongue-tied. Once the prospect on the phone felt so bad for me, that he coached me through the process of my own sales call! (I didn’t get the sale.)
A similar situation comes to mind from the movie Wall Street. Do you remember the scene when Bud finally – after 59 straight days of calling – gets a meeting with Gordon Gekko? Let’s look at the approach he uses.
Bud starts with some flattery:
“I just want to let you know Mr. Gekko, I read all about you at NYU Business, and I think you’re an incredible genius and I’ve always dreamed of only one thing — to do business with a man like you…”
But Gekko isn’t biting and he replies “So whatta you got for me, sport? Why are you here?”
Bud offers him his standard pitch – sounding very much like a sales guy – and Gekko shoots him down.
Ever experienced a scenario like that? So, how can you engage prospects like Gekko and get them to actually bite?
Salespeople, Do Some Very Brief Research
The first step is doing your homework so you know your prospect. I’m going to assume you’re connecting with your prospect on the phone (possibly with the help of a trusty sales app, like Spiro, that reminds you of who to call and when to call them) and not meeting in their opulent office. You need to be brief and make a good impression immediately.
Before you even get them on the phone, what sort of research do you do? I’m hoping you’ve taken at least a moment to look at their LinkedIn profile (and other social media sources, if possible) and know something about the person – not just the company you’re trying to pitch. This gives you more power in the conversation.
Determining the personality of your prospect is critical to your pitch. You might want to consider services like Crystal that can give you some insights. However, don’t spend more than one minute on this as it’s easy to get sucked into a vortex of research. Keep it brief.
Best Sales Openings
Next, you need to get your opening right. It is the door that will allow you to get into the room where the deal happens.
Here are three of my favorite sales openings, but of course you should vary them on what your research shows:
1) Build Rapport from Research – Make a relevant comment based on their public LinkedIn or other social media postings. For me you might say, “Hi Adam, this is Bill from Onagio Software. First of all, I loved your drone videos on YouTube. Great stuff there.” It’s hard to dislike someone who likes your stuff!
It needs to be specific to work. Note how Bud says he dreamed of doing business with a ‘man like you’. A man like you? For me that would be off-putting. What does that even mean?
2) Use the Negative Close – Next, ask for their advice or recommendations; you can combine this with the negative close “I’m trying to figure out if ABC Company is a good prospect for me… can you tell me what you think?”
For bonus points you can always blame it on your manager. Almost everyone has a manager, so you might get a bit of sympathy here: “Hi Adam, can you give me some advice? My manager thinks ABC Company is a good prospect for me, but I’m not so sure.”
3) Be simple and honest! Always a good approach, tell your prospect you’re a sales guy covering his account. Of course, don’t put on your “I’m-a-robot-salesperson” voice and sound like Bud from Wall Street. Most business executives have a good bullshit detector, so honesty works.
No Insider Trading, Please
When panic kicks in, people resort to desperate measures. For example, Bud offering up some inside trading secrets to pique Gekko’s interest. That doesn’t usually end well, so instead, be prepared and confident by doing your homework and practicing your sales opening. With these tips, you can get your message across smoothly and transition into the sale.