Part of being a successful salesperson is learning not to take rejection personally, but if your rejection rate seems a bit off the charts, maybe it is time to take it a little personally and examine your approach to potential new clients. We've gleaned a list of “thumbs-up, thumbs-down” sales techniques from the best in the business that may help you close more new prospects and put to rest that nagging fear that maybe you aren't cut out for sales after all.
…the more you know about each prospect, the better chance you have of making a sale…
Thumbs Up: Do your research.
Before you start down your list calling to try to get an appointment with everyone on it, take a breath. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about each prospect, the better chance you have of either making a sale, or crossing that person off as too cold for comfort.
Even a basic Google search will likely turn up enough info on your prospect and their company to tell you if they'd even been interested in what you're selling. If you're working with a short list of hot prospects, dig deeper. Look for overlapping work related interests or employment backgrounds that can serve as a connection between you and the prospect.
Thumbs Down: Making it personal.
Your research may turn up personal information about the prospect; family details, hobbies, religious or political preferences. Stay away from these! You don't know this person, so stick to business topics. Nothing scares people off like wondering, “How do they know that about me?”
Thumbs Up: Get the person's name, and the pronunciation of that name, right before you talk to them.
You will inevitably encounter a gatekeeper with your initial call. Ask the gatekeeper for the correct (and preferred) name and how it's pronounced. That will also impress the gatekeeper by showing them that you are a person who cares about getting things right.
Thumbs down: Asking the gatekeeper for “more information.”
You aren't selling to the gatekeeper, you're just trying to get past him/her. Don't try to pump them for info about your prospect (“Do you think he/she might be interested in my product? When's the best time to reach them? When do you think I can expect to get a call back?”). Be professional, don't act desperate, and don't give the gatekeeper the impression you're trying to extract something about the prospect.
Thumbs Up: Talk 20%, listen 80%.
When you finally get an appointment with your prospect, explain why you are there (to solve a problem for the prospect) and what your product can do to make their life easier. Then sit back and listen. Don't talk about yourself, your kids, your dog, or the big game. Don't launch into a hard sell of the product. Let the prospect hold the floor. Listen, take notes, keep eye contact and learn.
Thumbs Down: Winding down the meeting on a personal level.
You've listened, you've learned, the business part of the meeting is over. Now gracefully make your exit. Just because the meeting went well doesn't mean the prospect is your new best friend. Resist the temptation to forge a more personal connection at this point. If the prospect is interested in your product, get back to the office and follow up. If not, move on to the next name on the list.
Thumbs Up: Follow through.
Not follow up, follow through — through the entire list of items the prospect asked for as a result of your meeting. Just sending an email saying “Thanks! Will send a brochure!” doesn't cut it. Go over your notes, see what worked and what didn't, make a list of everything the prospect requested, and get it out within a day.
Thumbs Down: Immediately requesting further action.
You met, you received a follow through list from the prospect, you sent out the information. Don't ruin the follow through with “When can we schedule our next appointment?” or worse, “Have you made a decision yet?” Give the prospect time to review the materials you've sent and to think about how your product can best be put to use by his employer. If you don't hear back in a week, you can follow up with a call or email to see if the prospect needs further details or if another appointment would be helpful.