Michael had been in sales for a while and decided to take some sales training because he was tired of mediocre results.
He learned to find ways to have his prospects tell him about their problems and priorities. Now when he hears something where he knows his company can help solve a problem or achieve a priority he does his best to present the features and benefits of his product and how they will help. He often leaves these meetings feeling pretty good because the prospect has asked him for a quote or proposal.
When he calls to follow up after sending the information he has trouble getting through or it seems the prospect has little sense of urgency in moving forward. Mystified, Michael tries to go back to how his product or service can solve the problem and then offers a discount to get the deal going. Weeks later, he is in full “stalker” / chase mode and has been relegated to voice mail jail.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re not feeling well the pain begins to ease as soon as you schedule the doctor’s appointment? How much better you feel again when you walk into his or her office? In order to keep a drowning prospect in pain, you might have to hold their head underwater for a while until they realize the size of their problem and the urgency of the situation. Just because someone has a problem or priorities it doesn’t mean that it’s important enough or urgent enough to make a change … either now or later. A simple leg or side cramp is much different than gagging on water. Too often, sales reps will hear the cry for help and jump in for the rescue. If the victim doesn’t really want to be rescued, then often times a struggle will ensue, and the rescuer is at risk to now become the victim.
Related: Killing Your Sales Darlings
Hold their head underwater and take them to rock bottom:
The first rule of Lifeguarding 101 is there will only be one victim, and it won’t be the lifeguard!
A simple way to start the rescue is to figure out how bad the situation really is … with a Deny and Diminish:
- “Can’t you just start swimming to shore?”
- “It’s not really that bad is it?”
- “You’re not actually drowning are you?”
- “What’s going to happen if you go under again?”
In the business world, if they’re really in trouble …Take them down through Investigation Management:
- How long has this been going on?
- What have you tried to make it better?
- Did it work? Why not?
- How much do you guess it might be costing you in dollars or in time?
- (Option – deny and diminish again) “That’s not really that much is it?
- What happens if you don’t do anything about it?
- So, it sounds like it’s worth doing something about it? Are you ready to do something about it?
- Is it OK if we work together to come up with an answer?
- Where should we start?
It’s your job to get information and not be too quick to give it.
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