Archive for June, 2012

“Probably” Means “Probably Not”

June 21, 2012

The other day I had a call with a sales prospect. The prospect seemed very interested in my client’s offering, and made several serious sounding inquiries about the specifics of the services my client offered. On a scale of 1-10, I gave this particular prospect an 8 or 9 in terms of measuring and qualifying their interest. He sounded so darn positive about the whole thing. Then we got to the end of our discussion about the purchase, and the prospect said they would “probably” move forward with a purchase that day, or the next day at the latest. It all sounded good up until the prospect said that dreaded word, “probably”. Here’s how it went down…

Me: “Given your interest and need for the service, what do you suggest we do next”?
Sales Prospect: “It all sound good to me, I’ll probably move forward and authorize a purchase order today, or tomorrow”.

When a prospect says “probably” it makes me cringe because I’m thinking more along the lines of what they really mean to say is “probably not“.
Believe it, or not, prospects have great difficulty saying the word, “no“. Instead they use the word “probably“. Sometimes it’s “maybe“. Every time you are discussing doing business with someone and they say the word “probably“, a silent alarm should go off in your head – Uh Oh!

Here’s the lesson – Don’t buy into the hope that your prospect will come through. Often times it’s wishful thinking.
When prospects include the word “probably” when describing their commitment to something, prospects are hoping that you will leave it alone, and move on without asking for the specifics behind what they meant by “probably“.
The next time your prospect says “probably” you might want to ask (politely) whether they really want to say “probably not“. Don’t be sarcastic, but try and make light of it. Try this…

Sales Prospect: “It all sound good to me, I’ll probably move forward and authorize a purchase order today, or tomorrow”.
You: “I appreciate that”. “It’s “probably” not the case with you, but you know how some people say “probably”, when they really mean to say “probably not”. Then continue and gently ask: “Is there any reason at all why you couldn’t say “definitely” to my offer”?
Sales Prospect: “Well I couldn’t possibly send you a purchase order if I can’t get budget approval for the purchase…”

Now that you know more about what “probably“, or better yet what “probably not” really means, you can now effectively uncover whatever obstacle(s) are standing in your way to closing the sale. Upon discovering whatever obstacles there are to doing business, you can then have a serious discussion with your prospect about the obstacles(s), right then and there.

Good negotiating dictates that it’s better to get things out on the table up front as opposed to letting it go, and running the risk of losing a sale that you could have had in the first place if you only had the gumption to ask your prospect about what they meant when they said “probably” instead of “definitely”.

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Monetize Your Network!

June 5, 2012

You have no one else to blame if you feel that you’re making too many cold calls. While I am a strong advocate of cold calling for new business, I do recognize that there are other ways to find new customers. If you’ve been in business for awhile, then you’ve probably met dozens of people that you made contact with. What you may not realize is that everyone you’ve ever sold to, or made contact with in the past can be a source of new business for you. If you lose touch with your network of contacts it highly likely that you are missing out on some very big opportunities because you chose to remain silent. It goes without saying that keeping your business a secret is no way to achieve success.

The misconception about networking
Most salespeople look at networking as purely a lead exchange event to trade business cards etc.. Furthermore, if making contact with people to discuss your business doesn’t result in new customers right away, you’ll find many salespeople give up, and throw in the towel on business networking. That’s a bad move…
Although exchanging leads is part of the equation, it certainly isn’t the entire picture. Making contact is one thing, but staying in touch to make networking pay off is another story altogether. And I might add, this is where you need to be patient and work the process. This is where most salespeople fail. They stop networking themselves, and drop out because they lost sight of the value because they didn’t get an immediate return. There’s an old proverb I heard awhile back and it goes like this; “Work the process, and await the result in peace”. Getting an immediate return is NOT proper networking. Working a process for staying in touch with people is your best bet. Be assured that working a consistent process of networking yourself will eventually yield the results you are looking for.  Maybe not right away, but eventually.

Remember that you can’t shoot the moose from the lodge. You’ve got to get out there and find those that can help you get what you want. All you need to do is be willing to help others get what they want. Once again – work the process and the results will follow.
And one final word, do you have a LinkedIn profile, and contacts you are connected to? How often are you reaching out to people and dropping them a note to see how they’re doing? Not very often? Why not?