It happened. I agreed to meet with a sales professional because he dropped the right name when reaching out to me. Nice guy. Very smart. But it was an uphill climb for both of us. Even though I fit his buyer profile, I really had no interest in his product. I was an unqualified lead. We’ve all been there, and I felt bad for the guy. Here are three things I wish he had given me….
1. AN EXIT
(Build an emergency exit into your sales presentation – especially if you’re going after unqualified leads or early stage prospects)
We want everyone to hear our sales message. And we want them to hear the whole thing. But not every prospect is ready for it. At least, not yet. And if the prospect isn’t as interested as you had hoped, the very same presentation that worked so well yesterday will be an endurance test today. That’s why it needs an emergency exit. You don’t have to deliver the whole sales presentation. It’s okay to say, “You know, I think it might be good to stop here for now. What do you think?”
2. AN INSIGHT
(Do what great content marketers do – give something valuable away)
This is the scary part. You’ve cut your presentation short, and now you’re off message. Where do you go from here? Back up and do what great content marketers do. When they publish blogs, ebooks, whitepapers, podcasts, videos, and other “content”, they’re giving early stage prospects something of value to think about. They aren’t trying to sell. Instead, they’re trying to help. No strings attached.
What if you had an article, book, or something of value to give to your not-so-interested prospect? It wouldn’t be about you or your product. Instead, it would be something to help them do their job better. In a sales conversation, it wouldn’t even have to be a physical item – you could just give them a quick insight or some off-the-cuff advice. Maybe you can share a little-known industry fact or a best practice: “We work with a lot of companies like yours, and one thing that we’re seeing is….”
The key is having these valuable tips in your sales messaging toolbox ahead of time. If you’re responsible for equipping sales teams with messaging, make sure they have valuable content that they can draw on in situations like this. Just remember that it absolutely cannot be about your product or service – you’re only providing helpful advice. It’s not about selling.
3. A LITTLE EXTRA TIME IN A BUSY DAY
(Give them the one thing every prospect wants)
Finally, people will love you for giving them back some of their precious time. If you’ve scheduled an hour, but you’re done in 20 minutes, let them have the rest of their hour back.
Worst case, you’ll never hear from them again, but at least you didn’t damage the relationship. Best case, you’ve given them something to think about. Later on, you can follow up with additional “content” like an article or ebook. Eventually, you might even become the trusted advisor they turn to when they really are ready for a solution like yours.
AN EXIT. AN INSIGHT. AND A LITTLE EXTRA TIME IN A BUSY DAY.
(Sometimes, that’s all it takes to turn an unqualified lead into a future prospect)
Who knows what would have happened if the sales professional who met with me had tried this approach. He was very personable and didn’t press too hard for the sale. But what if he had also cut his sales presentation short, given me a helpful article (not a sales brochure) or some free advice, and taken a little less of my time? Maybe I would have been grateful, read his article or taken his advice, and even gotten back to him with a question or two. We would have begun to build a relationship of trust. And eventually, I might have even wanted to know more about his products.
Monica Thornton says
Great insight John-thanks for sharing!
John Reed says
Thanks so much, Monica. I’m still learning how to handle situations like this myself!
Tony Rushin says
Excellent article; great, simple ideas. Couldn’t have implemented this early in my career (too eager to tell my story) but makes perfect sense to me now. Thanks.
John Reed says
Thanks, Tony. You make a great point about early career issues. That’s one reason why I think it’s so important for sales enablement leaders to provide their sales teams with talking points and materials that go beyond the sales message itself. Younger or newer team members need to have other info they can draw on for situations like these.
Todd Dawalt says
Such great advice! I especially like the idea of having an insight available to give away, no strings attached. Doing so clearly shows your intent to add value to the other person. Thanks for sharing.
John Reed says
Thanks, Todd. Seems like this is the purpose of sales anyway – not trying to talk people into something they don’t need, but finding ways to help people using your insights, products, services, etc.