There are only two kinds of prospects who agree to see you: the ones with lots of extra time on their hands and the ones who are tantalized by what you have to offer. The former are tough to find these days, and when you do you often discover that they don’t have any spare cash to go with their spare time.
And so our task as salespeople is to tantalize the prospect enough that he or she will be motivated to carve out a block of time in their busy schedule. Salespeople who ask for only a sliver of time, instead of an ample block, set themselves up for failure by positioning themselves as unimportant and inexpensive and by leaving themselves too little time to launch a successful relationship. If you need plenty of time with the prospect, figure that the prospect will need plenty of tantalizing before agreeing to invest that time.
Most salespeople attempt to tantalize their prospects by dangling their product in front of them. Fewer tantalize their prospects by dangling their process. See which one is more like the approach you use…
Even if your product is the greatest development since the flush toilet, it’s probably not a reason for anyone to schedule an appointment with you. All you’ve managed to do by dangling that product before the prospect is create interest in the product, not in you. The promise inherent in your approach is that you’ll present the product in all its glory and answer any questions the prospect might have. But product information is ubiquitous today. Every buyer knows that talking to a sales rep is the most painful, least reliable way to learn about the product; there’s more accurate information, more readily available online. Product danglers no longer succeed in tantalizing prospects, and for them, appointments are tougher than ever to get.
Process-danglers put themselves out front, instead of the product. Yes, it’s ballsy. Such salespeople are brashly communicating that they themselves are a source of value to the prospect, that the problem-solving capabilities they represent go way beyond what the prospect can find in an online data sheet or video product demo. Those who tantalize prospects with their process are saying that process has value, over and above the value built into the product. These salespeople position themselves as diagnosticians who can get to the heart of the challenge the prospect is facing and can build tailored solutions around the product, solutions that integrate with current systems, offer greater opportunities or economies, and magnify value. Such salespeople are claiming that, in their hands, the product or service is transformed, and that’s why the prospect needs to see them.
A process-based sales relationship starts with a process-based approach—by dangling process instead of product as your way to tantalize that prospect. Make it clear to the prospect how the best results are achieved, that it’s a collaborative process that requires their full participation in order to maximize value. You’ll be amazed how smoothly the rest of the sales cycle will go.