How your salespeople open a sales call is more critical than how they try to close it, according to a recent survey of purchasing executives. Here are four keys buyers look for in an opening.
From sales trainer and author Stephan Schiffman:
1. Make your opening statement short, understandable and credible. Your goal is to start a dialogue rather than a one-sided discourse in which you preach about the features and benefits of your product or service. You establish who you are, why you’re there, and why the prospect should be interested in what you have to say. There are many ways to open the call, but the common objective of good openings is to lead the prospect to agree that you’re allowed to ask questions.
2. Ask questions that will help you pinpoint their problems and your opportunities. You can’t assess the prospect’s real needs without having an understanding of the problems involved. Establish your role as the seeker of information and the prospect’s role as the provider of information. This is the most critical stage. You can’t close business without understanding the prospect’s issues.
3. Let the customers do most of the talking. The more they talk, the better you’ll understand their needs. Listen carefully to their responses, trying to uncover unrecognized problems and coming up with unanticipated solutions. Give the prospects the opportunity to ask questions and focus on what’s in it for them.
4. Resist the temptation to offer any immediate solutions until you have a complete understanding of prospect needs and are ready to offer credible solutions. The more a salesperson knows upfront, the more comfortable prospects feel in exchanging sensitive business information. Summarize or re-emphasize key points. Then propose an action that advances the sale to a successful close.