It’s easy to sell to prospects who are already interested in your product. They’ve done some preliminary research and decided you’re a potential solution. Now all you need to do is answer some questions, get in front of the right people, and make sure they opt for you over the competition.
But the best salespeople are distinguished from the average ones when it comes to uninterested prospects. Starting a relationship with someone who’s never heard of you or isn’t actively looking to solve a relevant challenge is tough.
However, it’s not impossible. I use the following five techniques to kick things off with these kinds of buyers.
1. Sell the dream.
Not everybody you’re selling to will be interested in your product, but I guarantee they’re always interested in themselves. Creating a vision of what will happen to them once they buy your product is a great way to create interest.
Think about Nike’s catch phrase, “Just do it,” or Burger King’s “Have it your way.” These phrases don’t tell you what they sell. They tell you what you can do with the things they sell.
When I call a prospect to sell her my firm’s services, I certainly don’t start with, “Hi! I’m Daniel from Delta State, and I help companies just like yours advertise their business. I’d like to introduce my services. Is this a good time?”
Yawn. That isn’t interesting to her (or me!) and it certainly doesn’t make her curious to want to find out more. Instead, as soon as she picks up the phone, I might say, “Hi. your business helps quite a lot of people, and when you hire me, I’ll bring in that crowd to you.”
Now, I have her attention. You’ll notice I didn’t even introduce myself or describe my services. Instead, I’ve managed to gain her attention and plant the first seed of curiosity. Only after she’s interested, will I then take the time to introduce myself and my services. Now that she’s actually listening, of course.
If you sell copywriting services, you might look for errors on your prospect’s website and email them with the corrections, adding, “As your copywriter, I’d ensure your site was 100% typo-free at all times.”
If you provide leadership training, you might say, “It looks like you’ve been hiring a lot of middle managers lately. That often occurs when internal candidates aren’t being properly developed. What would it be like to have a 80% internal promotion rate?”
2. Be biased about your product.
I see far too many reps pretending to be unbiased in an effort to sound “credible.” But your buyer, who is both educated and experienced, knows that as a salesperson, you are biased. In fact, nothing you will ever say will make a customer forget that ultimately, your job is to get them to buy your product.
So, stop pretending. If anything, do the opposite: Believe your service is simply the best.
Your buyer is sophisticated. They understand the use of hyperbole. Embrace the fact that you’re excited about your offering and that you love to share your point of view.
When you tell prospects your product is “the best on the market” or that your customer’s sales reps “will be blowing out their numbers after working with us,” you aren’t having an academic discussion relying on survey data and spreadsheets to defend your conclusion — you’re sharing your opinion, and your commitment to that opinion. We trust those that are authentic and genuine, not merely impartial.
3. Arouse their curiosity.
Once you’ve gotten your prospect to agree to another call, your goal is keeping their attention. I use this strategy to do just that.
At the beginning of the meeting, I’ll say, “Before I forget, I want to ask you something related to our last conversation. Let’s get into the agenda now, but will you remind me?”
They’ll say, “Sure, no problem.”
At the end of the call, they’ll either ask, “Hey, what was that thing you wanted to talk to me about?”, or they won’t mention it.
If it’s the former, I know they’re engaged and present. I’ve also managed to create a little intrigue. If it’s the latter, I know they don’t really care (and I should either try a different approach or move on).
Wondering what to bring up? I usually ask something I actually want to know that’s too short to include in the agenda, such as, “What percentage of your revenue comes from channel sales versus direct?”
4. Use past successes (not failures) as your guide.
I’ve always found it far more instructive to focus on what went well and try to replicate specific successes, rather than to dwell on mistakes. Our minds often behave like a search engine, displaying the results that reflect your query.
For example, if you Google “don’t show me Chinese food menus” … you are bound to get a massive list of Chinese food menus. Coincidentally, if you only focus on how you have failed in the past, then that’s probably all you will ever see.
The good news is that the same rule applies if you focus on the things that have already worked. One way to reinforce that mindset is to reach out to your current customers and ask what were the things that first got them interested in your offering.
Look for trends in their responses and then reuse those successful approaches with future prospects. Who knows, they might say, “Hey, that’s not why I took your meeting, I took it for this reason.”
The best answers for how to sell can usually be found from the people you have already closed.
5. Create a sense of urgency.
While we would never encourage you to use scare tactics to make the sale, creating a sense of urgency with prospects who are on the fence about your offer can be a helpful approach.
Here are some ways you can create urgency to get your prospect to invest in your offer:
- Offer a short-term discount or incentive — Whether you provide a lower price for prospects who purchase by a specific end-date or include a bonus offer by a specific date, these offers can create a sense of urgency by rewarding decisive action with even greater value.
- Emphasize the immediate benefit of your product — You should have a solid understanding of the problem your prospect is trying to solve. Create a sense of urgency by emphasizing how the purchase of your product can provide an immediate solution or relief to their problem.
- Communicate scarcity — Knowing your offer is limited or only available for a short time can create a sense of urgency for buyers. Whether you are selling a product that is limited-edition, or are selling a service that is only available to a specific number of customers, communicating these parameters during the sales process can inspire buyers to make their purchase immediately.
6. Be a valuable resource.
Picture this. You’re in the market for a new mattress, and the sales rep at one of the mattress companies you are considering provides stellar service. Not only do they actively listen to your concerns with your current mattress and understand what you’re looking for in your next purchase, they’re able to confidently speak to how their product is the perfect fit for you.
They have been able to get you an answer to every question you asked, and have even shared some valuable content about sleep health, and how their mattress can help you get the best sleep of your life.
This rep is going above and beyond for you before you even became a customer — imagine how attentive they are once you are one.
During the sales process, how you treat a prospect while they are still considering your product gives them a glimpse into what life as your customer could look like. If you serve as a resource before they buy, you’re building trust with your prospect that is valuable in the long run.
7. Keep the conversation going.
If you don’t succeed in making the sale the first time you pitch, don’t be discouraged. By using the tricks above, you likely have built a level of trust with the prospect that is invaluable. The “no” could very well be a “not right now”. Keep the door open with this prospect in case they change their mind, or are a better fit for a different offering. Here are a few ways you can keep in touch with your prospect:
- Connect on social media — If you had a great conversation with a prospect, ask to connect on social media. Not only will seeing what content your prospect shares provide you with valuable insight into what products they are using and how they feel about them but when they see the content you share, it will keep your conversation and product top-of-mind.
- Ask for feedback — If your prospect is open to providing feedback about your product and sales approach, take them up on it. This feedback provides useful information about how you could improve your sales process in the future and allows you to stay in touch with the prospect longer, which can be helpful for winning them over at a later date or with a different offer.
By appealing to your prospect for help, you’ll satisfy their desire to be heard and earn their interest in helping you close the deal — simply by asking for it.
Talk to you soon, Daniel.