View from Inside

I received a prospecting phone call from a telephone service company last week. The guy made a solid "results" approach, offering to reduce our telephone costs 20% to 40%. While that sounded attractive, I told him we are locked into a contract with our phone company. He said, "OK, thanks" and terminated the call.  I felt relieved. "OK, got rid of THAT guy, let's see what's next on my ‘to do' list for the day."

Now, that’s not rational, is it? If we could reduce our telephone charges 40%, we could pay for a very nice year end party for the growing Clarity team.  But phone costs were not close to the top of my list last week and it felt like too much hassle to understand the guy’s company (which I’d never heard of) and to switch our current relationship (which includes phone, internet access, and voice mail). Whether rational or not, I felt I had more urgent matters to address. Sounds like many prospect calls we’ve made, yes?  No need, no hurry, no sale.

The question is:  If you were the phone guy, what could be the next move in your conversation with me?

While I can’t speak for all prospects everywhere, here’s an approach that would work if you were calling me. Please feel free to pass this along to all sales people who call Clarity:  (1) Acknowledge what you heard, (2) ask a question that prompts me to think, and (3) offer something that would help. For example:

Example 1: Sounds like you think the savings we could offer might not be worth the hassle you perceive in switching. …What will tell you it’s the right time to evaluate your current provider and the alternatives as your activity changes?… Would you find it helpful to have a framework on how to look at that?”

Example 2:  “Hmmm. Sounds like phone charges aren’t at the top of your list…I’m curious:  What IS at the top of your list regarding phones, text messaging, data communications, data bases, emails, or other communication issues?… Would you find it helpful to hear some examples of what our other clients have done?”

Example 3:  “OK, you’re in a contract… If you think about phones, text messaging, data communications, data bases, or emails, is there anything in addition that you may need more of or differently to take care of your business?… Would you find it useful to see what other consulting firms are doing?”

And, when all else fails… Pretend to be shocked:

Example 4: What?  You’d walk away from 40% savings? Are you nuts?

The point is, ask a question rather than terminating the call, reading me a script, or pitching me additional benefits.  Ask me to think about (1) when or why I might be willing to reconsider my current approach and  (2) how I might go about that.  Then, earn some credibility and more conversation time by offering me a way to gain insight or perspective that could be useful.

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