According to Jill Konrath, in today’s crazy-busy world, the ONLY way to capture and keep your prospects’ attention is to talk with them about what matters to them. Pure and simple. That’s all they care about.
Your prospects have zero tolerance for salespeople who think their job is to share their unique methodologies, great technology or extraordinary service. All that info is available online. If it’s of interest, they’ll find it—on their own time.
Jill Konrath is a globally recognized sales strategist. She’s an in-demand speaker at sales kick-off meetings and conferences where she shares fresh strategies to help salespeople deal with emerging challenges.
Forrester Research also found executives state that 86% of the salespeople who called on them were NOT prepared to have an intelligent conversation on their initial meetings. Most didn’t get a second chance.
Yet your prospects are thirsty for ideas that can help them do their job better, faster, or more productively. They crave information on how to increase revenue, reduce costs or expand their market presence. They search for insights on how to deal with changes in the business environment. A salesperson that delivers these ideas, insights and information is pure gold.
Additionally, Forrester Research shows that the first vendor to create a viable vision of the future has a 74% chance of closing the sale. That’s an amazing statistic, but entirely achievable IF you target the right prospects, research their business and talk with them about what matters most. In short, you need to use catalysts and context to lead an intelligent conversation.
According to Wikipedia, a catalyst “speeds up a reaction by lowering the activation energy required for the reaction to proceed.” In sales, a catalyst does the same thing. Suddenly the organization is receptive to new options. The grip of the status quo has been loosened. Money even appears out of thin air. Here’s how to find and leverage these trigger events for maximum impact at your company.
Identify The Catalysts
To get started, analyze your existing clients. Ask yourself:
(1)…What internal factors (inside the company) made your clients finally decide to take action?
(2)…What external factors (outside the company) changed their business environment sufficiently so that the status quo was no longer sufficient?
Often salespeople discover distinct changes or issues that are behind virtually all decisions. Invariably, these are the most common:
New Leadership: Often, within 3-6 months, new executives are implementing fresh initiatives to drive revenue, reduce costs or increase efficiencies.
Financial Announcements: If business is up, expansion projects take priority. If business is stagnant or down, productivity or cost-saving initiatives jump to the forefront.
Mergers/Acquisitions: Any change in this area causes organizations to re-evaluate all their supplier relationships.
New Strategic Initiatives: When new corporate directives are announced, the entire organization shifts to ensure they’re in alignment.
Legal/Compliance: Changes in government regulations (e.g. Affordable Care Act) cause organizations to take immediate action.
These are only some of the many catalyzing events that can create opportunities for savvy sellers. Others include reorganizations, new product/service announcements, relocations, market expansions, new business deals, or new funding.
If you’re new to this type of thinking, review local or national business publications and ask yourself: “If this happens, how does this impact an organization’s need for what I sell?”
Knowing your catalysts frees you to pursue those companies where you have a higher likelihood of closing an accelerated deal. Plus, you’ll know what to talk to these prospects about since you are deeply immersed in their issues and challenges. It’s the fodder you need to have an intelligent conversation.
Get A Jump Start On Competitors
Here’s the good news. Many of these catalytic events are newsworthy announcements, shared publicly by the company. Or they’re part of required financial reporting.
The easiest way to get your hands on this info is to leverage sales intelligence tools – ones that automatically search for your specific catalysts and deliver them to you on a timely basis. If you sell to a small number of companies or track a finite set of catalyzing events, you can get by with Google Alerts.
But things get pretty complicated when you need a steady stream of new prospects. Or when you’re selling to multiple market segments. Or when a variety of these catalysts can signify a loosening of the status quo.
Sales intelligence apps like InsideView, Lead 411 or DiscoverOrg can totally automate this process for you. They sort through all the junk that’s out there, giving you daily alerts about what’s happening in your territory – on just those catalyzing agents that you want to follow.
Intelligent conversations depend on sale intelligence. Today, it’s imperative to be the first one in the door with fresh insights on how to deal with the emerging priorities and issues.
Planning an intelligent conversation involves combining what you know about the catalyst’s impact with your understanding of the context of prospect’s situation.
From this, you develop a game plan to pique your prospect’s curiosity, showcase your depth of knowledge and build trust that you’re an invaluable resource.
You’ll know you’ve succeeded, if, at the end of your conversation, your prospect says, “Very interesting. We clearly need to look at this in greater depth.”
Let’s go back to where we started. According to Forrester Research, the first vendor to create a viable vision of the future has a 74% chance of closing the sale. That means you need to identify a gap between your prospect’s business goals and their current situation.
When companies are disrupted by catalytic events, a gap naturally emerges. Suddenly the status quo is no longer sufficient. Change is needed.
Salespeople who use sales intelligence apps to notify them when these trigger events occur consistently outperform their peers. They get in early, which gives them the ability to shape the discussion.
When these same salespeople leverage context, they integrate their knowledge of the company, individual people and their digital behavior into the conversation. They know more—which enables them to come up with better ways to help their prospects achieve their specific goals.
Combined, catalysts and context yield intelligent conversations – ones that are focused on helping prospects create a viable vision of what’s possible in their organization. In this article, we’ve just talked about the initial conversation. You’ll need more to close the deal. But you’ll get there faster and with minimal competition. It’s definitely the way to sell today.
About The Author
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.