Do you have a product you think I’d enjoy? Are you looking to make your next cold call to Martyn Basset Associates a little easier? Are you simply curious about how the mind of a prospect works? Well, this is your lucky day.

A few weeks ago I was on a demo call with a sales rep who’s only question seemed to be “...and how will this feature benefit you?” It’s a good question but I take enough sales calls and watch enough training videos to recognize the fundamentals when I hear them. It’s one of the few things I have in common with the C-level prospects that your sales team really wants to be talking to.

So, in the interest of providing constructive feedback to the entire industry of sales, I’m going to share with you the tips, tricks and tactics that work (on me) every time. You might be surprised who agrees with me.

1. Lighten The Mood

Sales calls make me a little tense. I know you’re going to ask me a lot of questions and I want to seem competent. I’ve probably researched your product and have a list of questions that I’m trying not to forget about. Essentially, I’m thinking more about myself than I am about you.

Cracking a joke or asking an unrelated question (other than ‘How’s the weather?’) reminds me that I’m talking to another human, rather than a machine that’s programmed to extract money from me as efficiently as possible.

2. Ditch The Script

Or write a really good one. This article was inspired by a call that failed to engage me because it felt like a paint-by-numbers sales call. We probably won’t become BFF’s but if talking to you is more interesting than maintaining the database I’m probably going to keep doing it. Conversely, if you’re on autopilot I'm probably not giving you my A-game, either.

3. Take It Slow

Your product probably has a lot of great features and you have a limited amount of time. I don’t need you to draw me a diagram but setting a breakneck pace during a demo just reminds me that I’m not your top priority. At least ask ‘Does that make sense?’ every now and then to give me an opportunity to ask questions.

4. Call Me Out

I’m probably not being completely honest with you. I might have decided that your product isn’t the right fit but feel bad for wasting your time. I might have been listening politely because I had 20 minutes to kill before lunch. I might have questions but I’m holding back because I don’t want to look stupid. Either way, if you give me permission to be honest I’m more likely to give you useful information.

It’s not an invitation to jump down my throat or twist my arm into another call, but saying “Just level with me...” makes it infinitely more likely that I’m going to tell you the whole story.

5. Take ‘No’ For An Answer

This is more about maintaining the relationship once we’ve wrapped up the call. I know it’s your job to address objections and ‘I’m not interested.’ is a big one. On the other hand, once I’ve decided on a course of action you’re probably not going to talk me out of it by citing hypothetical situations. Correctly or not, I believe I know more about the company I work for than you do.

Make yourself a resource by offering to re-engage down the road to assess how things have developed. If it’s gone well I’m going to want to brag to someone and if it’s going terribly I’m probably open to a discussion about how to salvage the situation.

I always have been (and probably always will be) a better prospect than sales professional. The same is true for almost everyone you’ll be talking to. We prospects aren’t as complicated as you imagine but we do startle easily and we’re habitual liars. Be patient, be approachable and we’ll warm up eventually.

Got something you want to sell Martyn Bassett Associates? Just get in touch, ask for Cody and use your new-found knowledge! To get notifications about everything from job postings to new blog entries, follow us on Twitter or connect with us on LinkedIN

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Comment by Jeff Paquette on November 20, 2012 at 8:20am

Good article Cody. I've been trying to explain the same story to the sales reps I train. I ask all my reps to read a book called "The Approachable Salesperson". It provides a very similar thought process as your comments. Thank you for sharing.

Comment by Deepa on November 20, 2012 at 4:36pm

great article, Cody! Well-articulated and helpful pointers. Agree totally.

Comment by Ashley Ryall on November 21, 2012 at 8:19am

Awesome, Cody. I totally agree. It's often that people forget how to have a normal, un-scripted conversation, yet, sales  - at its fundamental principle - is about building relationships. In the next year or two, sales professionals are going to have to, even more so, heavily rely on their networks as their main source of business opportunity. You need to get it right from the start, and keep it authentic.


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