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The Biggest Mistake in Sales Prospecting

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  • Alan Rigg
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      Article Title:
      ==============
      The Biggest Mistake in Sales Prospecting

      Article Description:
      ====================
      If you want to improve your prospecting effectiveness, stop
      leading with solutions in your prospecting calls and voice mail
      messages. Instead, lead with the problems that you can help
      prospects solve. This approach will attract the interest of a
      larger percentage of your prospects, produce higher close rates,
      and generate more profitable sales.


      Additional Article Information:
      ===============================
      781 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line
      Distribution Date and Time: Fri Jul 1 04:36:47 EDT 2005

      Written By: Alan Rigg
      Copyright: 2005
      Contact Email: mailto:alan.rigg@...

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      The Biggest Mistake in Sales Prospecting
      Copyright � 2005 Alan Rigg
      80/20 Performance
      http://www.8020performance.com



      Recently I received a prospecting voice mail message from a
      salesperson. The salesperson explained his company was "the
      leader in Microsoft hosted Exchange solutions" and he encouraged
      me to visit his company's website. That was it - that was the
      "meat" of the voice mail message.

      If you received that salesperson's voice mail message, what would
      go through your mind? Do you think it might it be a question
      like, "What the heck is a Microsoft hosted Exchange solution?"
      Do you think the voice mail message would inspire you to call
      the salesperson back?

      Why did the salesperson's voice mail message fail to accomplish
      the desired end result? Because it focused on a SOLUTION rather
      than a PROBLEM.

      If your prospecting calls and related voice mail messages talk
      about a solution, in effect you are assuming that your prospects
      are already aware of the problems that your solution can solve
      for them. If your prospects are not able to relate your solution
      back to their own specific problems, your message will probably
      just "bounce off".

      If you use industry-specific jargon to describe your solution,
      you are making the additional assumption that your prospects are
      familiar with the jargon that you are using. If they aren't, it
      further reduces your chances of attracting their attention!

      How could this salesperson restructure his voice mail message to
      be more effective? Instead of talking about his solution, he
      could talk about one or more of the problems that can be solved
      by using a hosted Exchange service. A revised voice mail message
      might sound something like this:

      "We help small companies look like big companies to their
      prospects and customers; plus, we help companies of all
      sizes focus more of their time and resources on their core
      businesses, which accelerates growth and profitability. If
      you'd like learn how we do this, please give me a call."

      This salesperson could further enhance his message by including
      a specific QUANTIFIED IMPACT that his company's services have
      produced for customers. Here is what it might sound like if we
      add a quantified impact to the previously revised voice mail
      message:

      "We help small companies look like big companies to their
      prospects and customers; plus, we help companies of all
      sizes focus more of their time and resources on their core
      businesses. This has helped some of our customers reduce
      their operating costs by as much as 30% in just six months.
      If you'd like learn how they were able to achieve these
      results, please give me a call."

      Do you see the difference between the revised messages and, "We
      are the leader in Microsoft hosted Exchange solutions; please
      visit our website"? Do you agree that the revised messages are
      likely to capture more prospects' attention and produce more
      returned phone calls?

      There are other advantages to focusing your prospecting messages
      on problems rather than solutions. If you talk about a solution,
      your message will have the most appeal for prospects that are
      already actively looking for that specific solution. But, do you
      think those (few) prospects are just sitting around waiting for
      you to call? Or, do you think they might be doing some proactive
      research? In fact, isn't it possible they might already have some
      price quotes in hand? If they are that far along in the buying
      process, how does it impact your chances of winning their
      business? If you do manage to win their business, how profitable
      is it likely to be? Wouldn't you agree that in this situation
      your solution is more likely to be perceived as a commodity, and
      the business is likely to go to a low bidder?

      Contrast this scenario to a properly managed, problem-based
      prospecting approach. If you are successful in attracting a
      prospect's interest by talking about the business problems that
      you can solve and the quantified impacts that your company has
      delivered to customers, the natural next step is to ask the
      prospect to identify which specific problems pertain to their
      business. Once the prospect prioritizes their problems, you can
      ask more questions to help them quantify the impact of these
      problems on their business. If the quantified impacts are
      substantial enough, it becomes quite easy to justify a very
      profitable price for your solution.

      If you want to improve your prospecting effectiveness, stop
      leading with solutions in your prospecting calls and voice mail
      messages. Instead, lead with the problems that you can help
      prospects solve, and (ideally) one or more of the quantified
      impacts that your company has produced for customers. This type
      of problem-focused prospecting approach will attract the interest
      of a larger percentage of your prospects, produce higher close
      rates, and generate more profitable sales.



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      Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Selling:
      Why Most Salespeople Don't Perform and What to Do About It. His
      company, 80/20 Performance Inc., supplies specialized sales
      assessment tests and consulting to help organizations build
      top-performing sales teams. For more sales and sales management
      tips, visit: http://www.8020performance.com


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