The second step to the sale is the approach. It doesn’t do you any good to have the greatest product ever created if you can’t get in the door to show it. You should typically have at least an 80% success rate when booking appointments. The only reason the “qualified” dealer shouldn’t meet with you is that you can’t match schedules. If you repeatedly get dealers who turn you down, you are either calling on the wrong dealers (you are not pre-qualifying them with your pre-approach information) or your approach itself needs work.
If you are calling on non-qualified dealers, then you need to sort your database and spend your time with the ones who might have a greater interest. If your approach is poor, then you can follow some simple guidelines to improve it. Paul Micali, in his book, “The Lacy Techniques of Salesmanship,” has some excellent comments on the approach. They are particularly fitting when calling on a new store.
The Lacy Techniques
“You will probably be surprised to learn that ninety-five percent of the salespeople in this country don’t have an approach. They think they do, but they are presenting themselves and their products or services in such a weak fashion that there simply is no approach at all. They rush to get themselves face to face with prospects and at that point they say, “My name is___, I’m from the XYZ Company and I came here because…” By this time the prospect has figured out how to get rid of the salesperson.
Why is this approach so weak? Prospects are not interested in your name. If they never saw you before and never heard of you, your name is of absolutely no significance to them. There is no reason that they should make an effort to try to remember it.
If the name of your company is also foreign to them, they will make no specific effort to try and find out more about it. Even if you represent a large, well-known company, they still are not terribly excited about it, particularly if they didn’t send for you. And if they have problems on their minds, which is usually the case, they will have trouble repeating what you said in the first several sentences because they most likely weren’t listening at all.”
Get To The Point
Paul goes on to suggest that you tell the prospect who you are–all the details simply don’t belong in the first sentence! The first thing you tell them is “what’s in it for them.” After that, you may wish to tell them who you are and a brief (one-line) synopsis of who you represent–they will be more interested once they know you have something of value for them.
A Frustrating Approach
While working on one of the Apple tours, showing products from Sony, Macromind, etc., one of the Reps kept complaining that he couldn’t get in the door. After listening to his approach it was obvious. His dialogue stated, “Hi, Mr. Dealer, My name is _______ and I’m with Sony..” He then proceeded to give a 2-3 minute discourse on who the Rep company was, why he was coming in, the color of his house…
This new field rep’s approach was way too formal, he went into way too much detail, confused the dealer (Sony-Macromind?), and he didn’t get to the point. By following some simple pointers, he was able to immediately correct his problem and get into the dealers–unfortunately, he blew away over 75 stores before he called for help (we only had about 150 qualifying dealers in the entire territory!).
The rep’s excuse was, “That’s what everyone says.” We can’t always do something just because everyone else does it. “Everyone” usually refers to most of the untrained people who just try to wing it–certainly not the Area Managers. There have been new reps that have blown off half their qualified stores because they didn’t stop after a dozen rejections and “re-think” their approach. The following are examples of effective approaches.
Examples of an Effective Approach
When calling on a new store:
Rep: “Hi, (manager). This is _____. I’m showing the dealers the new Widget for Windows from ABC Company. I have free software and other goodies for anyone who sees the quick demo. I’m going to be right down the street from you this Thursday and I’d like to catch you also. Would you like me to catch you before I go there or after?
Dealer: “What time…”
When calling on a previously visited store:
Rep: “Hi, (manager). This is _______, one of the ABC Company Reps. I think (_______) was in last and showed you (_________). I’ve got a bunch of new products and more free goodies to drop off. Want me to tell you what they are and see if you’re interested? (Use this question to qualify the dealer. If it’s a “regular” store they know what we do and are usually always interested–if they qualify.)
The previous approaches are not set in cement–they can be varied. Remember, as important as what you say is how you say it AND why. If some of them appear obvious to you that’s good–you’ve already recognized the skills–if not, then pay special attention and try to understand why they’re effective.
Some of the Worst Openers for a Cold Call
There are some phrases you never want to use when making cold calls.
- How are you today? Right. You only say that to friends–and they don’t know you from Adam. It sounds insincere and screams, “I’m a salesperson.”
- I am not selling anything. We should never, ever lie–our integrity is greater than the value of the sale. You may be pre-qualifying, but they know you will eventually ask them to buy something. Of course, this is different if you are doing a survey–but this is a sales section, not research.
- Do you have a few minutes? Of course, they don’t–they are too busy. But they might make time if you can create curiosity.
- I know you’re busy but… You’ve just stated the obvious. Try again.
- You don’t know me but… Of course, they don’t know you. We don’t want to waste any words that don’t advance our discussion.
Points To Remember About Approaches
- Don’t be “too” formal. When you ask a stranger for directions you don’t drag on and introduce yourself first. Not necessary, is it? In the approach, you can introduce yourself but you’ve got 30 seconds to “cut to the chase.” Don’t waste time with too many formalities.
- Tell the dealer how you can help them. Be specific. “I show new products (list), drop off free stuff and give support.”
- Overcome common objections quickly, BEFORE they come up. I don’t SELL anything (not interested in buying anything), and I give a QUICK demo (no time/might be boring) to WHOEVER’s free (“I’m” busy).
- Physically smile while talking on the phone. You can create a feeling of friendliness in your voice without having to say much by smiling.
- Concentrate and be confident.
- KISS: Keep it simple, silly!
- Re-work your approach with your manager if it isn’t working and then listen to his advice. Do not use up the database practicing mistakes–get help.