I was recently working with a new coaching client. His mission is to set up appointments on behalf of his manager. My new client was stressed and frustrated and having no success.
He told me that he was reaching and having brief conversations with some prospects but those conversations went nowhere. He said he was trying to be consultative, to elicit details and to drill down on prospect objections. But no matter what he said or did he would hear, “I’m not interested,” and a click as the prospect hung up.
This new client is not a beginner. He has been in sales for many, many years. He told me that he believes in a consultative approach to prospecting and selling yet he was struggling schedule even one appointment.
Here is the fundamental problem: Consultative selling does not work for prospecting. You cannot consult with someone that will not engage with you. You cannot get answers to your questions, elicit specific details or drill down on anything at all until a prospect agrees to speak with you. Step 1 is getting the prospect’s agreement to have an in-depth conversation.
Many sales professionals that are prospecting want to set an appointment with their prospect. That appointment might be a face-to-face meeting, it could be an online meeting or the entire process could be by phone. That appointment is your prospect’s agreement to have an in-depth conversation with you. Get the agreement first.
Once a prospect has agreed to an appointment everything changes. It means that they are willing to talk to you. They are willing to give you time. They are willing to engage with you. You can ask open-ended questions, gather in-depth information and even offer solutions when appropriate. Prospects will answer your questions, give you concrete, specific information and even ask you questions – once they have agreed to speak with you.
Prospecting versus selling is the difference between asking to have a conversation and actually having that conversation.
Prospecting and selling are two totally different skill sets. Unfortunately, the two are often taught as though they are exactly the same. They’re not. When you use the wrong skill set for prospecting it is a struggle. Get the appointment first–then consult. That’s the only way it will work.