The Art of Asking the Right Questions on a Sales Prospecting Call
Most OCS, vending and micromarket operators recognize the value of feet-to-the-street knocking on doors to grow the business. But do you or your salespeople consider the value of making an introductory phone call to penetrate a larger market, with the intention of getting actual 20 minute appointments with qualified and viable prospects?
If the answer is yes, and you feel that you have a pretty good strategy in place and you’ve already started making some calls but for some reason you just can’t achieve the results you are looking for, stop for a minute and ask yourself a couple of questions about your approach—are you giving the prospect time to answer? Are you engaging them in the conversation? Are you clear about your value proposition, so that when it is your time to shine on that phone call, you are hitting all the meaningful benefits and features of your service?
Do not let the saying, “most people listen to respond but they don’t listen to understand” ring true when dealing with a prospect. Really listen to what they are saying and seek to understand and process it as well. Take good notes, instead of leaving it to memory. Throw in probing questions to keep the conversation flowing. Allow the prospect to see that you are not just looking to push a sale at all costs. Utilize the information they convey to you to engage them more in the conversation and to determine if, how, and why that prospect should buy from you.
By asking the right questions you will find that a prospect is willing to open up and actually discuss their coffee/vending situation or the potential for a micromarket. To get them to do this, do not lead in with a yes-no question like “are you happy with your contract / vendor?” The usual answer will be “yes” and now the conversation is hard to pull back up and you may lose the prospect. Instead, ask something like “if you don’t mind me asking, what is it about your current vendor that you like?” Follow up with, “what improvements would you like to see with your current vendor?” The latter question will get them talking about pain points and therefore, areas where you can provide value and show the prospect what you are able to bring to the table. Ultimately, the more you uncover pain points and areas of dissatisfaction, the closer you get to seal the deal. Other questions may include: “What sort of items do you carry in your vending machines?” or “What does your coffee set-up look like there” (delve into: type of coffee, how many machines, brand, free to employees, etc)? The key is to ask open-ended questions that are engaging and require a little bit of thought more than just a yes or no response.
Show value and be a thought-leader. Many salesmen think that the prospect is so rushed that they have to go immediately from intro to closing-for-appointment on that initial phone contact. If you don’t engage the prospect in meaningful conversation and try to close too quickly, you will not set a qualified, “sticky” appointment. The appointment is more likely to stick if you build rapport, ask good questions and engage the prospect. Be sincere in your approach, and when you find pain points, offer solutions that you’re able to make happen and THEN ask for the appointment. Everyone knows the ultimate goal is to get an appointment and close the deal but it will be a more qualified and solid lead if you are able to build rapport and show value while setting the building blocks for a potentially long-lasting business relationship with that prospect.
Contact us today at 609-448-6364 to find out how we can help you get more sticky appointments with Top Prospects!