Entrepreneurial Selling

Anticipate Prospect Responses

Sales calls are easier if you know how your prospects will respond. For example, if you know that a particular prospect always starts with an outrageous request, you can prepare your response appropriately. However, in most cases, you will be calling people you don't know - which means you have to be thoroughly prepared for all possible demands and requests along with your responses. This helps you steer the conversation along the intended path. Here are a few sales call scenarios that you should always be prepared for and how best to handle them.

Every sales call is a journey into the unknown - or is it?

The best sales reps are the ones who know what their prospects are going to say before they say it, even if they are speaking to a prospect for the first time. All it takes is a little planning and foresight, and you'll be on your way to selling with the best of them in no time.

Let's face it, sales calls would be a no-brainer if you knew what your prospects concerns would be before you make the call. With that kind of information, you could easily prepare a presentation that would knock their socks off. But the truth is, you already have that information. Just place yourself in the prospects shoes and imagine the kinds of things that would concern you. Here are a few common responses you should always be prepared for and some tips about how to handle them.

"We're happy with our current vendor."

Anyone who has been selling for more than a day knows that this is one of the most common responses to a sales call. What it really means is that the prospect doesn't want to waste her time talking to a sales rep. The good news for you is that it naturally leads into a follow-up question: "Who is your current vendor?" If you know your competition, you should be able to come back with something that makes a 5-minute conversation worthwhile, e.g. "We've found that we can consistently beat the that vendor on price by as much as 10%."

"What makes your product different?"

Like everyone else, prospects are under a time crunch. Rather than endure a longwinded song and dance routine, they want to cut to chase and hear why they should buy your product versus someone else's. Know your products unique characteristics and be prepared to quickly differentiate your products from the crowd. A little anecdotal evidence, e.g. "Some of my other customers with businesses similar to yours tell me that we have the best service department in the industry," doesn't hurt, either.

"How much money can I save with your product?"

This one is tricky unless you know how much they are already spending through their current vendor. Don't hesitate to ask for that information, especially if you know that you can beat the current vendor on price. However, if you know that your product is more expensive than the competition, you'll need to steer the conversation toward value. For example, try something like, "Price is important, but that's not the question you should be asking. The question you should be asking is what will I get for my money."

"How soon can you get it here?"

This question might indicate that the prospect has already made the decision to use your product. On the other hand, he might be testing you to determine your company's delivery and response time, too. To be safe, it's a good idea to check out your company's shipping schedules and delivery times in advance. If you have a quick turnaround time, you might even consider offering the information uninvited to sow a seed of doubt about the current supplier.

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