When you can't get to yes in cold call sales, get to no – fast

by on February 1, 2010 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Selling Essentials Info Center

Prospects who won’t buy divert you from other cold call sales

Smart salespeople understand that getting to “No” ranks only after getting to “Yes” on the list of desirable outcomes in cold call sales. If they can’t win the sale, they’d rather be the first contender rejected than drag out the process, burning precious time, only to come in second. Trouble is, some prospects refuse to say “No.” For reasons that you may grasp only much later – or never – these people can’t, or won’t, tell it to you straight. They’ll smile and leave you guessing. You have to smoke out the truth for yourself.

Turning the Flame up or Down
A customer may have excellent reasons, from his perspective, to defer letting you know you’re wasting your time. We’ll mention some of these at the end of this article. For now, let’s concentrate on figuring out “when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em” in cold call sales.

Incisive Questions
The first parts of your cold call sales detective work: creating and using incisive questions and provocative statements, strip the pretty paint off a prospect’s unsaid “No.” We suggest these:

  1. “We’ll be better able to configure/ choose the right product for your needs if we can come in for a day and have a look at the operation you’d be using it in. When could we do that?” If the prospect is serious about giving you a chance at the sale, she will be delighted by your commitment to learning her business. If she’s stringing you along, your suggestion will get her defenses up right away. She has no interest in unveiling her company’s operating process to someone she’s not really planning to partner with. Most likely, she’ll either refuse or temporize – and either sends a clear signal of disinterest.
  2. “Can we install an evaluation copy of our product/set up a test run of our service?” A prospect who has no intention of buying from you will seek to avoid the trouble and potential expense of running a full-fledged product test. But if the prospect’s interest is sincere, he’ll be glad to do so. In fact, if he were truly interested, he might already have suggested it himself.
  3. “What support system and/or people will you need to operate our product/use our service?” If the potential customer intends to give you a serious look, she’ll do – or have somebody else do – an evaluation of what people and/or equipment her company will need to support your product. An answer along the lines of “we’re not sure” or “we haven’t gotten that far yet” should arouse your doubts in cold call sales.
  4. “Are you aware that your competitors X and Y are using our product/service? Both have achieved significant cost savings with it.” This is a powerful question for discerning a prospect’s real interest level in cold call sales. The idea of competitors getting ahead of his company by using your product should elicit immediate followup questions from him – unless he’s already decided to buy something else, in which case he won’t care.
  5. “Why is our product a better fit for you than competing products?” Or “Why would your company select our product?”
  6. A prospect who’s hiding an already decided “No” will likely have trouble answering this question in any detail.

Enlist Second Opinions About Cold Call Sales

Once you’ve done your digging, bounce the results of your inquiries off your sales manager and colleagues. They may suggest reasons you haven’t considered for the prospect’s saying what she did. And if you can, recruit an ally within the customer company who may be more willing than your main contact to break any bad news.
Why They Won’t Tell You No in Cold Call Sales
We mentioned earlier that prospects have many reasons for leading you on. Among them:

  • Your contact wants to be able to show his superiors he’s done a thorough review, measured by vendors contacted and time spent.
  • The customer is pumping you for information to beat down the price of its preferred vendor.
  • Your contact is hiding a personal interest – i.e., her spouse’s company wants the business, or she plans to help another vendor win the sale and then jump ship to that firm.

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