Prospecting is hard. Hard because of the number of touchpoints it takes to get any form of meaningful interaction. Hard because you have to convince people to interact with you from one stage to the next with everything else they have going on in their worlds. Hard because you are one of many others vying for their attention.
So, among this sea of meerkats popping up at prospects daily, how do we become their Sergei?
People remember others because they helped them. Yes, socially we remember people who have have sharp banter or a good moral compass. But in business, us humans want to get on. And in order to get on, we need help. Simply, in business we help, revere and remember those who gave us a leg up at the right time. Reciprocity is king.
And as salespeople, we have one thing our prospects don’t. A world-class understanding of their problem and how to solve it. This opens the door for us to help them and deliver consistent value.
Let’s break down the key ways we can offer value at the critical points in our prospecting plays.
In a rather excellent post by Chris Orlob at Gong.io, he explains a wonderful way we can offer value at the very beginning. Storytelling.
There is enough information out there about our prospects, their businesses, who they compete with and their likely challenges. With this information, all we have to do is dig into our customer library to find someone just like them that we already help. Offering someone an alternative way of solving their problem through the voice of a peer they can relate to and resonate with is the first step to offering value. Hopefully, your first email, video, letter can get them to think “oh, I hadn’t thought of it that way”.
Before we find ourselves waiting on our WebEx platform with the anticipation of “will they show?”, consider, what are they actually showing up for? Are they showing up because we’re a good person, because our service looks interesting, or because they have an already burning desire to solve their challenge? Probably not. This is why turn up rates to that first call or interaction can be less than desirable.
But, if they are turning up to learn something new or gain credible advice, well, I’d hang my hat on that. So, we need to be mindful that the agenda for that first call is explicit in what they will learn and how they will realise value for their time.
Crucially then, ahead of the diagnosis call or demo (the next step), we need to outline what else they will learn, how we will go deeper and realise more value, and why this is well worth their time and not to be missed. This could be customer case studies, new methods to try, tools they could consider, or the ability to just look at things in a different way.
The Demo / Discovery
If you haven’t read Rain Group’s Insight Selling, they rather beautifully break up the role of the modern, trusted adviser into three key skills. The ability to:
- Convince – Telling believable and impactful stories
- Connect – Building true trust and dependency
- Collaborate – The ability to inspire and propose bold new ideas
This adds a little more breadth to our ability to offer value. Trust and originality are two key levers at our disposal, enabling true value to surface. Perhaps the aim of our discovery calls should not be to get to “the next stage” but to be able to demonstrate that we have ticked these three boxes, trusting in the system that if true value is realised, more will be sought.
So ask yourself at this part of the process – the very part where you can really differentiate yourself from all of your peers – are you matching your service to their needs, booking in a next step, and rubbing your hands with satisfaction OR are you inspiring your prospects to think differently, proposing new insights and ideas, and building a true relationship that will last well beyond this solitary interaction?
Ultimately, this question will define what sort of salesperson and professional you want to be.
- What value can you offer right off the bat in your outreach?
- What is the prospect excited to learn about on your first call?
- What are they looking forward to at demo / discovery?
- How can you inspire them to think differently, trust you, and take your own ideas on board?
I wholeheartedly believe that the questions above sort the successful from the mediocre.