Any veteran salesperson can share scores of experiences in which he or she has pursued a prospect for months, even years, expending creative energy to just get an appointment, only to be let down with the prospect's decision not to buy.
Rejection is a fact of selling. Fortunately, unpredictable timing often can be better than impeccable timing.
With how many prospective clients have you spent much time and effort pursuing each to no avail, while others have just appeared without effort?
How prepared have you been for such opportunities? I'll quickly run through an example of how I would respond to such a scenario and the preparation I would make.
Say you're in a downtown high-rise in any major city. Upon entering the elevator, you strike up a conversation with a gentleman. You asked the man whether he works in the building. He replies: "Yes."
You then comment on the great view that day and then casually ask the man what business he's in. The man tells you, and you can't believe what you're hearing; his company is in one of your biggest market niches. So you comment on what a great industry it is and mention how your company has helped several companies within this industry cut expenses, increase sales and so on.
Intrigued, the man says he's the president of the company and asks: "How do you do this?"
Realizing that this gentleman is a decision-maker but also knowing that he's desiring a to-the-point reply, it's time to make a brief presentation that you've role-played hundreds of times for unplanned opportunities like this. It consists of three parts and a hook. I encourage you to have one similar in structure and length that's ready for your moments of opportunity.
* The first part is the top-tier message of your company. It answers: "Who are you?" In this situation, I would tell the gentleman: "My name is Roy Chitwood and I'm with Max Sacks International, a professional sales skills training company."
* The second part is the second-tier message of your company. It answers: "What you do?" Response: "We help business-to-business salespeople, from startups to Fortune 100 companies, increase sales, make more money and have more fun in their careers."
* The third part is the third-tier message of your company. It answers: "How do you do it?" Finally, I would say: "We accomplish this by teaching our clients to use a proven, scientific process for sales success that is easily duplicated and effective enough to sell any product, service or idea, anywhere in the world."
* The final part, the "hook," is a teaser and a call for action. Accordingly, I would conclude: "Bottom line: We've proven that we can help most any salesperson increase sales a minimum of 25 percent, oftentimes much more. Guaranteed. If I can show you a proven way to increase your company's sales 25 percent or more in the next six months, can you think of any reason why we shouldn't set up an appointment?"
After listening to his reply, I would ask for his business card and contact him per his request.
Sales situations such as these are atypical, so when they occur, resist your tendency to begin asking questions, digging for information or gauging interest. Remember one of the fundamental principles of selling: People buy emotionally and then justify the purchase logically. In this example, "buy" translates into an appointment.
When such opportunities just appear, you literally have up to 60 seconds to pique your prospects' interest enough to create action. Your objective in such instances isn't to make a sale. It's to get an appointment.
No one has more eloquently revealed the effectiveness of the "hook" and the importance of its timing than Mark Twain. After attending church and hearing a missionary speak one Sunday, Twain emphasized knowing when to stop after you have dropped the "hook." He wrote:
"He was the most eloquent orator I ever listened to. He painted the benighted condition of the heathen so clearly, that my deepest passion was aroused. I resolved to break a lifelong habit, and contribute a dollar to teach the gospel to my benighted brethren. As the speaker proceeded, I decided to make it five dollars. And then, ten. Finally, I knew it to be my duty to give to the cause all the cash I had with me -- twenty dollars. The pleading of the orator wrought upon me still further, and I decided not only to give all the cash I had with me, but to borrow twenty dollars from my friend, who sat at my side. That was the time to take up the collection.
"However, the speaker proceeded, and I finally dropped off to sleep. When the usher awoke me with the collection plate, I not only refused to contribute, but I'm ashamed to state, that I actually stole fifteen cents."