August 19, 2013

Killing Your Prospecting Efforts Talking About What You Do Instead of What You Achieve

Tomorrow I’m headed east to work with a great new client. They’re a highly successful firm with many top-producing salespeople. It’s a fun change of pace to get called into a “healthy” sales organization looking to take its game to the next level versus a more typical engagement where things aren’t going so well when they contact me. This engagement’s #1 objective is to sharpen the firm’s “Sales Story,” which if you’ve followed me at all, know, is a favorite topic of mine.

Freshening my content for this week’s sessions, I’ve been replaying what I am seeing and hearing while recently observing sales reps.  While many of them incorporate very compelling talking points from their sharpened “story” in prospecting calls and emails, they’re burying the most powerful part of the story!

Too many salespeople kill their prospecting effort by beginning  emails and phone calls with self-focused language — talking about whey they do instead of what they achieve for clients.

The issues we address for clients/customers are the most powerful part of our story. Period.

No one cares how smart we are or how great we think our company/solution is.

They don’t care what we do, only what we can do for them.

If that’s true, then why do so many salespeople insist on starting prospecting calls, voicemails and emails by describing what they do?  Should a prospect decide to read your note or listen to your message, you’ve got a very limited amount of time to engage them. When the first few sentences are all about you, your company and what you offer, the chances of losing the prospect’s interest go up geometrically!

Stop yourself from saying /writing, “we offer” or “we supply.”  Trust me. Your prospect already has a supplier and the odds are that talking with a salesperson from another supplier is not top of their priority list. When you use those self-focused expressions, you’re only asking your potential customer to put up their sales defense shield.

Some prospectors do a better job with their openings and lead with what they believer are key differentiators. And I’ll admit that talking about why you’re better or different is an improvement compared with talking about what you do. However, very often, your differentiators are still self-focused — “we were the first…”  “our proprietary process…”  “we are family-held and have been in business 59 years…”  “we have the best…”    In almost every case, your differentiators are still all about you, your company and your solution.

My strongest suggestion is to stop beginning your communication with what you do or why you’re different. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to get to those points — after you get the prospect’s heart and mind engaged. In those critical first few sentences it is imperative to touch on the real reasons people/businesses come to you — the issues you address for clients/customers!

shoot-yourself-in-the-foot1Want to get the prospect’s attention and get noticed? Want to be perceived as someone who brings value? Want to be seen as professional problem-solver instead of a pitchman? Want to keep the prospect’s defense shields down? Would you like to engage both the prospect’s mind and heart? Then make sure to lead with the issues you address for your clients because that’s what they’re already thinking about! What problems do you solve? Which pains does your solution remove? What results are you helping customers achieve? Or which opportunities do you allow them to capture?

Stop shooting yourself in the foot! Don’t bury the most compelling part of your story. Lead with it.

If this post resonates with you and you’d like help crafting a succinct, powerful, client-issue-focused and differentiating “sales story,” I’d encourage to dig into Chapter 8 of New Sales. Simplified. – The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development. You can grab a copy here or read recent reviews from who others benefitted from the book.