Sell to People – Not Companies

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I always tell sales people to “do their homework” with prospects. But what does that mean exactly?

For most sales people, that means to research the company prior to meeting with or speaking to their contact. So they visit the prospect company’s website to gain some insight.

Well, that’s a start, but all company websites say the same thing, “We provide solutions to meet the needs of our customers… Yadda yadda”. * Yawn *. It’s all basic marketing speak that doesn’t really tell you much, just a scratch in the superficial, high level surface.

Good sales resources do research on people. When has anyone sold anything to a company anyway? People run and manage companies – and somehow that is forgotten all to often.

Try googling your contact’s name and see what you get. Look for people in social networks and you’ll be able to understand more about their past work/roles, education, interests and affiliations. maybe they have been written about or write their own blogs.

Ok, so what now? Well, now that you know a bit more about your contact, you can use that information to do something too few sales people ever do – ASK AN INTELLIGENT QUESTION.

“How does your past role at [previous company] influence your current strategy at [current company]?”

“How does a degree in [their field of study] shape your thinking around [their industry]?”

“I saw a posting on your blog about [something], why is that important to you right now?”

These kinds of questions are great because they demonstrate that you have done your homework. They’re not selling or qualifying questions – they are relationship builders. Asking things like this will give you insight into what makes these people tick and will set you apart from other sales people. Establishing a strong relationship is a critical first step in any sale.


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