It’s a shame but a lot of salespeople are losing sales before they even have a chance to get them. That’s right, they’re reaching into their holsters, pulling out their pistols and shooting themselves in the foot before they even have a chance to talk to the prospect.
How? By being slow off the mark and annoying the prospect early in the sale. Here are a couple of cases in point.
We want to get our web site revamped, give it a face-lift of sorts. So, armed with a couple of recommendations we waited for people who were eager to redesign our web site to call us. We waited and we waited. Obviously they don’t need any more business as we’re still waiting for some of them to call as I write this article.
What’s now going through my mind is that if they take so long to make initial contact with me so that I can possibly give them some business, how long will I have to wait for them to actually do the job?
The point is that if your response time to a prospect’s initial request is too long, he might write you off before you even get a chance to make a sale. At best, you’ve got a longer, uphill climb to recapture the prospect’s trust.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been in a position of buying something where the sale didn’t go all that well only to find that things didn’t get any better after they had your money.
It’s a safe bet that if the sale is going bad during the early stages that it isn’t going to get much better and, chances are, it’s likely to get a lot worse.
Prospects from Hell
You’ve undoubtedly had similar situations as a salesperson. You’ve got the prospect from hell and the sale is a bigger challenge than it really should be. He doesn’t return your calls, wants to dicker over every little detail and, in general, jerk you around. If you think it’s going to be better after you’ve got his money, think again. It usually gets worse. Now the prospect from hell turns into the customer from hell.
You don’t want a bad sale and your prospect doesn’t want a bad buy. A bad buy is one that doesn’t start off well and degenerates into an even worse situation. If your prospect even smells a hint of having problems at the early stages of the sale, he’s going to be wary and start looking for alternate sources of whatever it is you’re selling.
Its the Little Things that Matter
So what makes a prospect wary? Lack of hustle for one. If it takes you too long to get back to the prospect after his initial inquiry, you’re on your way to a bad sale. You’re sending the message that you don’t care and if you don’t care maybe the rest of the company doesn’t care either.
Little things like getting back to someone can make a big difference. If you don’t think that little things matter consider this. You’re sitting in an airplane waiting for takeoff and your tray in front of you pops open. You notice that it’s dirty and is warped. Wouldn’t you then wonder about the engines? If they can’t fix and clean something as simple as a tray, how well do they maintain the rest of the aircraft? See what I mean?
Another thing that makes prospects wary is failure to keep your promises. Now I know that when you told the prospect you’d call her back before the end of the day you didn’t promise her, you were just telling her what you intended to do. I also know that you got legitimately busy and couldn’t get the information you promised to the prospect. But remember, telling someone you’ll call her back at or before a specific time becomes a perceived promise in the prospect’s mind and the prospect doesn’t differentiate between a perceived promise and a real one.
Your ability or inability to respond quickly to an inquiry or to get back to someone when you said you would is a measure of your reliability. People want to deal with and buy from reliable people.
Make sure you get every sales opportunity started off on the right foot by being timely and proving yourself to be reliable. Do this and you’ll stand out by a country mile because your competition probably isn’t doing it.
It’s the tiniest of things that can make the biggest impact. Remember that the next time you see a dirty tray in the airplane.
Authored by Brian Jeffrey, co-founder of SalesForce Training, and originally published in the Targets newsletter.
SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and Salesforce.com training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, helping sales people impress prospects by getting off to a great start…and maintaining that position throughout the sales cycle.
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