Step # 4: Qualify
Determine which of the identified suspects in your territory have an interest in what you are doing… these are your prospects. This involves a little telephone work and a little market research (as we mentioned in the previous chapter). But don’t get intimidated. You only need to ask a few questions to a handful of people.
It is now time to rate your prospects. Although it may not sound like a righteous thing to do, you can’t treat all prospects the same. Some need more time. Some are more profitable. You must rate your prospects to allocate the proper resources to each one.
Here is a fast and easy way to do it: Think in 3’s, A, B or C. One, two or three. Red, yellow or green. Let’s use A, B and C. Under the A category, list companies that you consider to be “home runs.” You would do anything short of breaking the law to service these accounts. They’re big spenders. They’re local. They are financially strong and pay promptly. Whatever your reasoning is, you want these accounts. There shouldn’t be more than a few prospects on the A list. (I’ll tell you why in a minute.) These are the real beauties.
The C list is comprised of companies that would be nice to have but do not warrant any effort on your part now. In other words, if a C prospect walked by your front door, you wouldn’t necessarily stop what you are doing to bring him in. (With an A prospect, you’d be shooting out of your chair to offer him a cup of coffee). There will only be a handful of C prospects on your list.
Most of your list will include B prospects — those are the ones that you’re going to work on from eight-thirty to five, Monday through Friday.
Why categorize prospects? Time. Consider this true experience which happened to me. I called on a company on my A-list several years ago and said,
MM: “Mr. Jones? Mike Marchev. Can I come by and introduce our program to you?”
Mr. Jones: “Mike, I hate to waste your time. We’re very happy with the company we are currently dealing with. Let me save us both a lot of time and effort.”
MM: “Okay.” About four months later I made a routine follow-up call on Mr. Jones.
MM: “Mr. Jones, Mike Marchev here. I’m following up on our last phone conversation. I want to make sure everything’s under control.”
Mr. Jones: “Thanks, Mike, but nothing has changed. We are still happy, and I see no reason for a change. I appreciate your interest.”
I called Mr. Jones a third time a few months later and he responded the exact same way.
Mr. Jones: “Mike, everything is under control. Thanks for calling.” After the third call I began to feel like a nuisance. I thought that I’d better lay low for a while. Jones seemed like a nice man, and I didn’t want to bug the guy.
About a year later as I was sorting through some old files, I remembered that I hadn’t spoken to Mr. Jones for a while. I called him. He was very nice and asked how things were going. He then said:
Mr. Jones: “Mike, I wanted to call you but I lost your card. I thought of you when we wanted to change vendors last week but I didn’t know how to get in touch with you.”
Was Mr. Jones responsible for contacting me, or was it my job to stay visible throughout the year? I blew it. I wasn’t around when the ball was fumbled. I decided right then and there that I would never lose another account for lack of visibility. So, I created the A-List
This Wednesday I want you to ask yourself this question, “Is there anything I can do for my A prospect this week?” Many, if not most times, the answer will be “No.” You’ve done everything you can do to this point in the relationship, and you are up-to-date with this prospect. Ask this same question for every single prospect on your A-List. When next Wednesday comes, you ask the very same question. “Is there anything I can do for any of my A prospects this week?”
Why Wednesday? Wednesday is the perfect day because you have plenty of time left in the week to respond appropriately to your question. If you waited until Friday to ask, you would put off any needed action until Monday, and all your good intentions would probably get washed away over the weekend. Remember, professional salespeople have to keep their hands on the buyer’s pulse. You do this most effectively utilizing an A, B, and C prospect category list.
Step #5: Present
Next, you need to convince your prospect that you have the solution to his or her problems. This will take some time. (Stay tuned for the concept of Seven Customer Contacts. what I call the Seven C’s Strategy.) You need to develop a relationship to convince the prospect that you are worthy and qualified to perform the task at hand.
As a salesperson, you are your presentation. You’re selling your presentation. Your number one job is to develop and master your presentation. Fine tune it to a three (phone), or five to eight minute (live) presentation. Tighten it up and make it flow seamlessly.
Have you ever talked into a cassette recorder and developed your presentation by listening to yourself? The first time you do this is going to make you cry. You’re going to realize that you don’t have your act together. Have you ever video taped your presentation? You may wish for a quick death (or, in my case, plastic surgery). The point is: Take your presentation seriously. Have someone listen to and critique your presentation. Use today’s tech tools to see yourself as others see you.
If you were in my motel room prior to my giving a speech:
(a) I’d have some explaining to do to my wife, and
(b) you’d think I was a lunatic. I bounce around the room “warming up” — what all professionals do before they perform. I look in the mirror and practice.
If you want to put more distance between you and your competitors, add enthusiasm to your presentation. If you do not believe in your company, or the owner, or the employees, or the industry, this will come across to your prospects. When you believe, this too will become apparent and will draw prospects and opportunities to you like a moth to a flame. What’s more, when you believe, you can easily work through rejection.
Enthusiasm. Develop it. Believe in what you’re doing — or change jobs.
Step #6: Satisfy
Once you have been given the opportunity to service the account, you have to perform the service with the same professionalism as when you sold the service. You’ve talked the talk, now you have to walk the walk.
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