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Don’t scare off prospects with this mistake

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Let’s say you’re walking down the main street of your town. You have some time on your hands, so decide to do some window shopping. Suddenly you stop, transfixed by the fabulous shoes in a store window. Being a shoe fan you feel drawn to enter the store. But before you can go in, your path inside the store is blocked by a sales clerk who demands, “Are you going to buy shoes from us today?”

If you’re like most people, you respond with “huh?” Maybe you say “Well, I don’t know yet.” If the store clerk repeats the same question, what is the likelihood you’ll continue into the store to buy some shoes? If you’re like me, the answer is slim to none.

Unfortunately, this is the type of scenario many prospectors set up for themselves when they go about cold calling. For an introductory call, that first call with a prospect, you goal should not be to ask her to buy from you but to engage in a conversation. Yes, ideally you want your prospect to buy, but that comes later.

Here’s a script I was recently asked to review:

“Hello [Prospect]. I’m calling to find out if you’re happy with your current vendor.” Now, unless they happen to be absolutely miserable, very few prospects will say no. When faced with this type of question, even prospects who are unhappy will tell you they’re perfectly content. This “Are you happy?” question is exactly like asking a prospect, “Are you going to buy from us today?” at the front door. It backfires and gets you the answer you don’t want.

Here’s another example from a financial advisor who had been cramming his entire sale process into his prospecting calls. I asked this financial advisor about his goal for his initial contact with prospects. His response? “I want them to let me review their 401(k)s.” That is not a realistic goal for a first phone call. It’s kind of like the “Are you going to buy shoes from us today?” question. It’s too far ambitious for so early in the relationship.

The advice I gave the financial advisor was to chunk down his goals to make them more manageable. For example: His first goal might be to get prospects to agree to a conversation. His second goal might be to get some answers to specific questions, and so on. This financial advisor needed to stretch out his sales process. If he were to wait until later in the process, he could probably get prospects to agree.

So look at your process. Decide on a set of small and manageable goals for each conversation. This will help you lead your prospect, step by step, through your process so that you arrive at the other end with a sale.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

How to lose prospects and alienate people

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