1) Say “thank you, I’ll check back with you” and hang up.
2) Pitch another service: “Well, we also offer …”
3) Pitch information: “Well, how about if I send you some information…”
[Like that would make a difference!]
Let’s pretend. Pretend that you sell IT (information technology) services, hardware, and software, to owner-managed businesses with sales in the range of $0 to $10 million. Suppose that, at any given moment, roughly 10% of the companies in your market are considering or reconsidering changes to their IT networks. They’d be “open” if a sales representative called. Suppose your sales rep called such a company at exactly the right time.
Rep: (Ring, Ring)
Prospect: Hello, Nick Miller.
Rep: Mr. Miller, Pat Green with GrowBiz IT. I’m wondering whether you’re considering what to do next with your computer network. We help companies that are outgrowing their computer networks to install the right equipment for their growth and move into new networks without down time. We maintain the networks so that owners feel confident. Would you find a conversation about that helpful at this point?
The prospect would take that sales call in a heartbeat because he has that exact need and Pat’s company seems custom-tailored for someone in his situation. But, pretend the prospect didn’t have that specific need. The conversation continues…
Prospect: “Pat, I’m glad you called, sounds like you offer a great service, and we don’t really need it now. We’re all set, the network is working great, and we’re not really in the market for additional gear at this point.”
Now what? The prospect (me) is friendly and “not needy.”
There are many possible sales rep strategies here:
1) Ask a “second opinion” question: “Sounds like you’re doing well and… different companies have different styles of designing networks for their clients. These differences can sometimes mean significant differences in performance. You seem happy with your current set up. I’m glad… and would you want to know… if there were a way to increase the performance of your current network significantly in the near term?”
2) Ask a “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” question: “I’m glad you’re set, and here’s an emerging issue we see that’s really important to get right: How are you ensuring 100% that unauthorized employees or outsiders can’t tap into confidential employee and client information on your network, exposing you to lawsuits and, possibly, criminal prosecution that could put you out of business?”
3) Ask an “Are you really happy, give me the facts” question: “I’m glad to hear you’re set. We know how important it is to be confident that the network is available when and how you need it. I’m wondering: How many times and for how many hours was the network NOT available when you needed it? How many times did you experience a failure last month?”
4) Ask a “service parity” question: “Well, when your current IT consultant comes out to perform its monthly check on your network to ensure integrity, security, and operating speed, how does that go for you?” [This assumes that GrowBiz provides these services in a tangibly distinctive way.]
5) Ask future-oriented questions: “If you continue to grow, what will you need the network to do differently? What challenges do you anticipate? How will your clients’ requirements around security and disaster availability change what you need to do?”
Now, there’s no guaranty that any of these responses will work. No Silver Bullets here. Most prospects won’t need what we’re offering when we call. That said, the questions can elicit answers that move conversations forward or provide starting points for future conversations. By asking for specifics or raising doubts, we can “shake” our prospects out of their “we’re fine” reveries and stimulate conversations.