Google your prospect before your first call and win more deals!

Admit it. You Google your friends, your dates, even that annoying guy who wouldn’t leave you alone at the last association meeting. But what about your prospects?

If you’re not taking 5-10 minutes to run a quick online search before every meeting, you need to start doing so pronto!

It’s the single best way to quickly gather the kind of information you need to approach the sale with confidence. Googling will give you more information about a company than even their website. It clues you in on what’s being said by and about them, specific areas of interest and even hot button issues to avoid at all costs.

Think about it. If you didn’t know that BusinessWeek recently ran a scathing article about mismanagement that led to the closure of 10 national offices and the loss of hundreds of jobs, you could quite easily blow the deal by praising their rapid growth and global impact.

But don’t stop at the company. Google the person you’ll be meeting with, too.  You can find a ton of information that will help you establish rapport and refine your pitch. Perhaps you belong to the same organization, or you discover that he’s an avid fisherman who has won several tournaments. Or maybe she shares her work philosophies in a profile published in last month’s trade magazine.  Just think about what you can do with that knowledge!

It’s also a good idea to idea to Google yourself and your company on occasion to see what’s being said.  If your prospect is doing business in this century, the chances are pretty high that they’ve Googled you!

The Price Isn’t Right

It’s human nature to want to know the cost of something before committing too much time and energy to the decision-making process. But the best sales professionals know that revealing the price too soon will almost always backfire.

It isn’t easy to resist, but you must. No matter how much that prospect begs, pleads or blusters, never give out price information until you’ve demonstrated your value proposition.

Turn the tables by countering with questions of your own that nudge them gently away from their single-minded focus on price to also consider quality, value and trust.  For example:

  • What are your expectations from this product or service?
  • What are your must-have features or criteria?
  • Are you seeking to replace an existing solution and why?
  • Tell me what you liked best or least about that existing solution?
  • Have you set a budget for this acquisition and how did you arrive at that dollar amount?
  • What services beyond the sale do you expect from the vendor you select?

Once you’ve uncovered the jam they’re hoping to get out of, you can establish your product or service as the solution to their problem. Show how it has helped others save money, increase productivity, boost sales – whatever addresses the real reason they are shopping in the first place.

Their needs aren’t cookie-cutter and neither are your solutions. Set that tone from the start by educating your prospect on the difference between shopping for price and shopping for quality. They’ll thank you for it.

What’s up with the lack of assertiveness among new graduates?

I’m not one to generalize, but I have to when it comes to junior sales reps:  there is a fundamental difference in their attitude about their careers.

I won’t jump on the “sense of entitlement” train that many use to describe this particular generation of professionals – although the frequency with which they fudge on past earnings and walk into an interview with unrealistically high expectations of their professional worth is troublesome.

What I will say is that I consistently see a lack of professionalism in their dealings with employers, colleagues, clients and prospects.  There is no diligence in their work habits and, for the most part, they are unwilling to commit to a particular position or company for more than the briefest period of time. There is also a stubborn refusal to seek and take advice from successful sales professionals; advice that would actually help them achieve those unrealistic earnings expectations.

I’m not basing this on the occasional interaction with a bad candidate. I’m basing this on a steady diet of unprofessional voice mail messages, blown-off customer appointments, unexplained no-shows for interviews with Fortune 100 customers, lateral job-hopping, and failures to follow up with customers and prospects.

It all demonstrates a lack of focus and consistency, both of which are critical to success in the world of sales.

Is it a generational difference that can’t be overcome? I don’t think so. It just takes a little give-and-take on both sides. Clean up those voice mail messages, honor your commitments to clients, prospects and employers (including potential employers), and approach your chosen profession with hunger and enthusiasm. In return, we’ll provide you with the feedback, opportunities and tools you need to get where you want to be.

If you can’t do that, find another career. It’s just that simple.

Sales Reps – why are we meeting? Just go execute!

As the founder and president of a thriving, fast-paced company, my time is precious and fiercely protected.  That’s why I don’t understand the fascination some sales reps have with meetings that have no purpose.

Recently, a sales person was trying to get me interested in a product I did not want or need. Despite my rejection, complete with explanation as to why I wasn’t interested, the guy persisted. He sent multiple emails and left numerous voice mail messages requesting a meeting. He even tried to convince the company’s receptionist to put him through because I was expecting his call.

This is a classic example of a sales rep who is simply ANNOYING. He failed to respect my decision or my time. As a result, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever get my business, even if I do develop a need for what he was selling.

It’s not just the sales reps who are abusing my time by pushing for unnecessary meetings. It’s also happening with some of my account reps.

Here’s the thing: it’s a great product. I love it. I know how to find you and promise I’ll be in touch when I need more. So no, we do not need to have coffee or lunch when you’re in the area.

I run a transactional business and when I need something, I research or have my team conduct due diligence, then we purchase. If my business is running smoothly with what I have, the relationship with the account rep can go on auto pilot. I don’t need to meet just so you can say you met with a client.

This practice isn’t just annoying. It also means that our vendor, whom we rely on for some aspect of our own business, is losing money. Instead of executing sales and generating revenues, their sales reps and account managers are wasting time on pointless meetings.

So put a stop to the meeting madness. Get to know your customers and agree on some key touch points that determine whether or not all is well. Then leave them alone! Go drum up new business and prospects, or focus on up-selling other accounts that need the attention.

Just please stop asking me to meet. I’ve got a business to run.