Thursday, March 3, 2011

Specifically Speaking ...

Did you ever have an appointment with a prospect that you felt really went well but then after thinking about the details of the conversation you realize there wasn't much there? The prospect gave general acceptance to your product/service, but you're not sure what the next step is. Will they buy from you? Will they take your next call? That's why you need to give and get specifics during your sales calls.

Good decisions (by you and the prospect) can only be made if the facts are known. Facts live in specifics, not generalities. Many people will make good choices when faced with all the facts. However, most people won't make the effort to obtain the facts for themselves. This gives you the opportunity to educate them not just on your product but on other areas such as general market trends. If you ask good enough questions and provide relevant expertise, you can even help them better learn about their problem.

In situations where the prospect doesn't want to get to the truth, they'll give you vague answers to avoid the truth being known. Getting specifics eliminates their ability to avoid the truth. Getting specifics also builds rapport and respect by removing any presumption. It prevents the perception that the salesperson thinks they know it all.

How To Get Specifics
1. Ask questions using QACF: Question, Answer, Comment, Feedback. Be skeptical of the answer until you receive proof or can validate that the answer is the truth.
2. Use open-ended questions, leaving room for any answer. This prevents the prospect from feeling manipulated, and you'll get more detail especially when an answer isn't clear or simple.
3. Ask, "Why?" Not just once or twice -- ask until you fully understand the situation.
4. Ask questions based on their cues. If you ask deeper questions based on their answers, you'll draw out all the information.
5. At the end of your conversation, when you're talking about takeaways, be sure to clarify these three areas: what, who, and when. Don't leave saying, "Someone will get me that information, right?" Say more specifically, "Just to clarify, you said your assistant will email me that Excel spreadsheet on your 2010 long distance expenses by Wednesday next week. If I don't hear from you, I'll give you a call Thursday or Friday. If I have the information by then, I'll stop by Monday to drop off the proposal and set up a final meeting for next week. Is that correct?"

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of three leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, and VertMarkets.