I was sitting at my desk diligently working on another success essay when the phone rang. Being programmed like Pavlov’s dogs to answer an incoming call hen the bell rings, I picked up the phone – interrupting myself (not a very good time management technique) – and said, “Hello, this is Jeff Mayer.”
“Is Jeffrey Mayer in?”
“Yes. This is he.” [You can always tell when someone is reading from a script because they don’t listen to you when you answer the phone.]
“Who is calling?”
“Yes Tom, you are interrupting me. Why are you calling?”
“I’m with ABC Copier Services. I’m going to be in your neighborhood tomorrow afternoon and would like to stop by for a few moments to tell you about our new machines.
“Would 1:00pm work for you. Or would 3:00pm be better?” [He’s offering the Alternative Close to try to get an appointment, but hasn’t asked a single question to attempt to qualify me as a prospect.]
“Thank you for calling, but I’m not available tomorrow.” I replied.
“Well… I’ll next be in your neighborhood on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Do either of those days look better?” [Tom began to stammer and stutter. Probably because I wasn’t following
the lines in his well rehearsed script and he didn’t know what to do or say next.]
“No they don’t.” I replied and then ended the conversation with, “Thank you for calling.” and I hung up the phone.
I’ll bet Tom has conversations similar to mine all day long. Everybody hangs up on him. Nobody wants to schedule an appointment with him. No appointments. No sales. No business.
Why? Because he has lousy telephone techniques.
For Whom Is This Convenient?
Think about this for a moment: Tom said he was calling on me because he would “be in the neighborhood.” This made it convenient for him.
I was just another stop on his milk run. I would be somebody who could fill in an empty spot on his calendar.
He was hoping he could get in front of a ‘live body’ so he could make his presentation and tell me about all the wonderful features of his new machines. He didn’t much care if he wasted my time.
When I said I wasn’t available he replied, “I’ll next be in your neighborhood on Tuesday or Wednesday…” He didn’t offer to make a special trip to meet with me or ask me what day I may be available to meet with him.
Imagine how I would have felt if he had said, “I’m going to be in the northern suburbs, but would like to meet with you and would be happy to drive down to Chicago to show you our newest machines?”
That means he’s going out of his way to make his sales call. He’s making me feel SPECIAL.
Face-Time Is Wasted Time
I know every sales manager wants his sales people to have face-time with his customers. But I think that’s the wrong goal. You don’t want to have face-time with everybody.
You only want to meet with people who have a strong interest in buying.
Think about this: Eighty percent of the time spent in sales meetings is wasted time – probably 90 percent when time spent in the car going to and from the meeting is included – because you’re using that first meeting to determine whether or not you’ve got a prospect.
How much more productive – and successful – would you be if you could determine whether or not your prospect had any interest in your products BEFORE you met with him?
Ask Better Questions
Time is your most important asset. You can’t afford to waste your valuable selling time meeting with people who aren’t viable prospects.
You can qualify your prospects – and leverage your time – by asking great questions on the phone to determine their level of interest BEFORE scheduling a meeting.
Then when you met the first time face-to-face it’s really your second meeting because of the time spent qualifying the prospect during the initial phone call.
Tom could have asked me questions like
* How many copies do you make a day, week or month?
* How many machines do you have in your office?
* How much time is spent by your people walking to and from their desks to use the copier?
* How often does your current machine need service?
* Do you own or lease your machine?
In my case, I only make a few copies a day and have no need for a high end copier. If Tom had in fact come by, it would have been a complete waste of his – and my – time.
You’ll be much more successful if you take a few minutes to qualify your prospects over the phone, and then schedule a meeting, instead of trying to schedule the meeting and then qualify them during your face-to-face interview.
|Reprinted with permission from “Jeffrey Mayer’s SucceedingInBusiness.com Newsletter. (Copyright, 2003 – 2005, Jeffrey J. Mayer, SucceedingInBusiness.com.) To subscribe to Jeff’s free newsletter, visit www.SucceedingInBusiness.com
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