You have a sales prospect who has shown initial interest – how do you engage? How do you manage the balance between push-and-pull so that you are guiding them through discovery without pushing them away?
Engaging with sales prospects is much like volleying in tennis – you are trying to put the ball away for the point, but you might be getting pushback and the prospect might keep putting the ball in your court, or worse – they might put the ball away in your court and that’s the end of the point. You want to keep the ball going until you’re able to put it away for the win and you definitely want to avoid letting it drop on your side.
Here are five tips to keep in mind when you’ve got a sales prospect on the line to keep the ball in play, or conversation flowing.
Simplify your solution
What does your solution really do? Does it save time? Money? When you first get your prospect on the line, a good way to keep them on is to capture their attention by highlighting how your solution can solve a broader problem. Try to stay away from complexities or jargon. This typically doesn’t impress even the brightest of the bunch and you don’t want to risk losing a prospect because they are having trouble understanding what you are selling.
A good tip to remember is to explain what your solution does, not what it is.
Leverage content to spark conversation
A good way to start a conversation or keep it going is to talk about something that complements the product you are selling – like relevant content from your marketing team. According to Sirius Decisions, as much as 70 percent of content produced by marketing is not leveraged by sales teams. This could be an interesting industry article on a trend that relates to the product or service you sell, a blog post, a case study to name a few.
Leveraging your marketing generated content is a great natural way to dive deeper into the pain points of your sales prospect. It not only gets them talking, but is a great way to point them to your website.
Ask direct, open-ended questions
When you have a sales prospect on the line, you’ve likely noticed that they try to hang up as quickly as possible. In order for you to determine if the opportunity is worth pursing, your goal is to keep the conversation flowing and identify value for your prospect. One way to do this is to ask direct, open-ended questions, like:
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What are your organization’s goals?
- How do you achieve those goals today?
Avoid double-barreled questions that touch on more than one problem but allow for only one answer, like:
- Are you experiencing trouble with A that results in B?
- What is your experience with C and would you be interested in D?
- Does your company have a need for E and F so it can measure G?
Take your time
I know this is a tough one. Your job depends on moving quickly, but if you come across as rushed to your sales prospect, they will feel rushed. And we can all relate to feeling rushed by someone who is trying to sell us something. I think of the times when I go into a store and one of the associates follows me around constantly trying to engage – it becomes obvious that they are just in it for the commission and they couldn’t care less about my needs and why I’m in the store in the first place.
Take the time to figure out what your prospect’s needs are. Conversing with prospects is all about creating a comfortable environment so they can open up and really tell you what their concerns are.
Listen to yourself
A bit of a tennis fanatic myself, I found that I learned the most about my game when I recorded it and watched it. It was painfully shocking at first, but after watching a few recordings and taking some notes, I found I was able to really improve my game. The same goes for your sales game. If you’re able to record your prospecting calls, give them a listen and identify areas for improvement. Are you talking too fast? Are you taking your time? Did you miss opportunities to sell? – All of these lessons and more can be learned when you hear yourself!
In sales, volleying is like the game of engagement – the ball drops when interest is lost. Make sure you keep the conversation flowing by keeping your volley game tight, moving prospects rapidly through the engagement funnel towards the close.
About the Author: Jaime Lee is the Content Marketing Manager at Velocify. She has a background developing internal and external communication strategies on the Silicon Valley startup circuit and had a stint working in channel marketing at VMware. An avid tennis player, Jaime is currently pursuing a Master’s in Communication Management from the University of Southern California. She holds a BA in Communication from UC Santa Barbara.