The sales cycle begin with a name. There are many ways of prospecting but only two types of prospect. They are the cold prospects and referred prospects. Cold prospects are those with whom we have no credibility at outset. A trust barrier exists and a trust barrier will show itself in all out percentages around the wheel. If the prospects are cold, the only way to warm them is to create credibility.
The simplest method is to ensure that every client understands that their responsibility is to provide us with referrals. Once the referral process is running, we will never need to see a cold prospect again. The referred prospect rarely, if ever, checks back with the referror, the very fact of the referring process seems to remove the trust barrier. This allowing us a dramtically improved series of percentages throughout the sales cycle. Fewer calls to obtain the desired number of appointments, fewer cancelled meetings, a higher closing average, a larger case size and more referrals to restart the process over again.
During the initial interview, if we have done our job correctly, we will have asked questions and our prospect will have done the talking. If we listened to all of the answers, we will know a great deal about them. Most importantly, we will know about their business or their job, how they arrived where they are now and where they want to be in the future. The information obtained will be filed away for later use, can give all kinds of clues when looking for introductions.
We should try to picture our client in the centre of a spider’s web with threads going out and back to people who influence them or are influenced by them. No business survives in isolation. See, in the mind’s eye, the client at the centre of their web. Picture all the trades and professions with whom they must come into contact on a regular basis.
Our prospects should be told at the earliest opportunity that we only take on as clients people or businesses to whom we are personally introduced, personally recommended, in the same way that they have been recommended to us.
The great debate is when to ask. It is too easy to put off asking for names and we feel it is demeaning. We have to suggest, after solving his complex financial problems, that we too have problem. Our problem is that we do not have enough people to see. It is not so demeaning as what follows when we have no names to call on.
There is one correct time – at the point of sale. The sooner we grasp the nettle the better. Moreover, we have enormous influence at the point of sale. There is no better time to start training our clients to expect to have a name for us whenever we call. Clients who always have an introduction for us invariably are the ones who first gave us a referral at the point of sale. We have trained them well to do the above task. Clients who never have a name for us are usually the ones who were not asked at the point of sale. They do not appreciate that we expect it from them. Salespeople often tell me they prefer to wait until they deliver the policy to ask for names. This will be much too late.
When we do not get a favourable response, it is not because our client cannot think of a name. They know hundreds of people. It is because he cannot focus on their mind on one name. It is like a revolving index of contacts going around in their mind. We have to slow it down so that they can extract the names we want.
Sometimes obtaining introductions is as difficult as making the sale and it is as important to make the sale. When we have a name – the first essential step in the cycle. Next, we need an appointment. We should call the referral as soon as possible. Referrals are not like good wine, they do not improve with age. They are more like fish, they go off if not used when fresh. Do not store them for future use.
(Adapted from “It Can Only Get Better – Tony Gordon’s Route to Sale Success”, Chapter 5: What’s In a Name ?by Tony Gordon)