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How not to make a prospecting call

Submitted by on Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A woman from Australia recently called me on a cold call. She started by calling me  ‘Sharon.’ For those of you who know me, I refer to myself as Sharon Drew.  Folks who call me ‘Sharon’ are either making a cold call, or haven’t read my books or blogs. I have a long history with this problem, so playfully said, “Ah. You don’t know me well. I call myself Sharon Drew and I use both names.” [Note: for those of you who study Buying Facilitation™ I suggest you begin calls with strangers by giving your own name, saying it’s a ‘sales call’ and then asking who you are speaking with, even though you may have a name in front of you.]

The woman then proceeded to get herself into very hot water.“I’ve read one or two of your books, Sharon, and appreciate them. I am wondering…..”
“Sharon Drew. I call myself Sharon Drew, and use both names.” I was still patient but getting less so.
“You call yourself both names? Ok. I can do that. Did you get my card last month? The card I sent you?”
“What card? I only open cards from folks I know cuz they often contain viruses. Do I know you?”
“No, Sharon, you don’t.”
“Sharon Drew.” If the woman chose to use my name at every possible juncture, at least she could get my name right, especially after having been corrected twice already.
“Ah, yes. Sharon Drew. I sent you a card to look at.”
“Is this a sales call, or are you calling to hire me?”
“No, I’m not calling to hire you.” [Note: this woman was SO out of control on this call.]
“Ok. So this is a sales call. What are you selling.”
“I’m selling cards for you to send to your clients to helps you build a relationship with them.” [Did she not see the humor here? She sent me a card to build a relationship, and I didn’t open it, and it harmed the relationship.]
“Um, I don’t use those sorts of ploys to help my buyers make buying decisions. Are you sure you’ve read any of my books?”
“I think we should end this call.”

FAULTY ASSUMPTIONS

What, exactly, was that? This woman was using an age-old sales ploy: send something so I am familiar with her, then call me on a ‘warm’ cold call, and then lure me in on the strength of the offering… not to mention the old Dale Carnegie ploy of using the person’s name a lot. This makes a few serious assumptions:

  1. That I opened the card.
  2. That I liked the card.
  3. That I knew what to do with the card.
  4. That I was looking to build relationships with prospects.
  5. That I thought that using an email card would build a relationship.
  6. That I thought that her card would build the sort of relationship I wanted to have.
  7. That the card she sent – even if I opened it – would have created a relationship.
    etc.

Do you get the point here? Just because you have a great product doesn’t mean the buyer knows how to buy it. Here is how a Buying Facilitation™ conversation between us could have started like — without her having to send a card.

“Hello. My name is ____. This is a sales call. Who am I speaking with?”
Sharon Drew – and that’s my first name. And what are you selling?
‘Interesting. OK, Sharon Drew. I’m selling a relationship management solution. How are you currently going about making and maintaining prospect and client relationships?’

From there, she could lead me through my current choices, and determine how I might add another possibility to what I was already doing. She might even have sold me.

When sellers push a solution into a ‘closed system’ that is happy the way it is (whether or not you believe it’s possible for them to be even more successful with your solution), you face rejection: the system doesn’t want to change and will reject, out of hand, anything pushing in. No matter what your solution, or how great the problem, begin all interactions by helping buyers recognize where they are, and what they would need to address if they wanted to expand possibilities. And then lead them to figure out how to get buy-in for change.

As a prospect, me understanding what your solution is makes no sense if I like what I’m already doing and don’t know how to operate, as a person or as a company, with the addition of something new. It goes back to one of my tag lines: Would you rather sell? Or have someone buy.

We have nothing to sell if the prospect has nothing to buy. Stop selling, and help your buyers get buy-in for change. Then you can send all the cards you want.

sd

For those wanting to learn more about how to make prospecting calls, read the Case Study in Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

For those wanting to learn more about Buying Facilitation™, take a training with me at the end of May here in Austin.

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  • Steve Reade

    Interesting that someone from “Down – unda” can still make the same egregious sales mistakes as those of us north of the Equator.

  • http://sharondrewmorgen.com sharondrew

    All sales 'mistakes' are the same: the entire model is limited because it's based on needs assessment and solution placement, and ignores the entire range of change management issues buyers must content with privately. As a result, sellers face objections, delays, 'no's', etc. unnecessarily and has done so for centuries, with the assumption that those things naturally happen…. which they do, but only because the sales model confines possibliities by not contributing help to the other piece buyers must do anyway.

  • http://sharondrewmorgen.com sharondrew

    All sales 'mistakes' are the same: the entire model is limited because it's based on needs assessment and solution placement, and ignores the entire range of change management issues buyers must content with privately. As a result, sellers face objections, delays, 'no's', etc. unnecessarily and has done so for centuries, with the assumption that those things naturally happen…. which they do, but only because the sales model confines possibliities by not contributing help to the other piece buyers must do anyway.