I have no idea if this show is even on the air anymore in any kind of format but, if it isn’t, for those of you who are old enough to remember … doesn’t “Let’s Make A Deal” remind you a lot about selling and I am not talking about the game show title?
Each contestant was forced to choose between what was behind door #1 or door #2 or door #3 and the kicker was … you had no idea of what was behind any of these doors. One might have a luxury European Vacation and the other might have a case of deodorant. Not knowing, and having to make a choice, was make or break time.
Selling is a lot like that. Often we enter into a prospect’s office with absolutely no idea of what to expect. How can you possibly prepare for that? Who even wants to do that? You had better be a good dancer.
Back in the old days, and when you think of it, those days weren’t really that long ago, about the only sources of information that we had available to really prepare for a call were newspapers, magazines, and the encyclopedia. It is not even that long ago where the average SMB business had little to no presence on the web at all. So, it was up to us to gather as much information as we could and do it the old fashioned way …
- We called friends and colleagues to find out what they might know about our prospect
- We researched industry sources and perhaps public records
- We drove by the business and determined whatever we could gather from a visible inspection: size, overall appearance, reserved parking spaces, brands and models of cars in those spaces, and any other data that may be of value.
Once inside the door, we would …
- Evaluate the interior of the business much the way that we had already done the exterior
- Do the same for our contact’s office while paying particular attention to diplomas, awards, photos (family or otherwise), books, sports memorabilia, etc.
Why would we do this? The answers are simple. We wanted to know what made them tick at work and away from work. We could also get a feel for their propensity, or not, to invest dollars. We desperately wanted to find areas of common ground that might prove to be crucial in establishing rapport.
Today, we can do most if not all of this on the web. It’s not only smart, many of our prospects expect you to do it and are very disappointed if you do not. I have to wonder why I get so many calls, and from technology companies no less, and the first question that they ask me is what do I do? They probably got my phone number or email address from … my website … and they never even took the opportunity to actually look at it!? Amazing.
Here’s another great example. I’m a great collector of free eBooks. I know that when I download these I will be placed on a mailing list and probably a contact list as well. Mind you, they don’t always tell you that upfront but, I’m okay with that regardless. There is one source that I get books from and every time I download one, my phone rings immediately and a form email hits my inbox. Now I have spoken to these people a number of times, explained to them that I am not a good prospect, and still … every time … the phone rings and the inbox chimes. Their product falls into the CRM category and apparently they don’t even use it so why would I? Technology cuts both ways. It’s bad enough when you don’t use it. It’s even worse when you don’t use it correctly.
If you want to remove those blinders, and before every important first call, take the time to do the following:
- Conduct a search on your prospect’s company and visit every link that holds promise of interest.
- Visit their website and read every pertinent page including their blog if they have one. Are there contact lists by department? How about profiles on key players?
- Follow their social network links to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other site that they may have thought was important enough to provide that connection to. If they think it is important, should you not share this interest as well? Review these sites.
- Now do the same thing with whoever you will be meeting with. It’s amazing how much you will learn about that person just from looking at their public profile on LinkedIn or whatever they choose to make visible on Facebook and, while you are there, what common connections do you share? Talk to those and ask for an introduction.
- If they have a company page on LinkedIn, visit that. The company page can also be used for you to establish other folks in that company and the roles that they play. Repeat for Facebook and Google+.
- Leverage your networks and that includes groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and communities on Google+. Can anybody help you with additional connections or information?
- If you think it would be appropriate at this time, invite them to connect. Once you have successfully done this, a whole new world on each social network will be opened to you and the engagement process can begin … before you even walk in that door.
- Like or follow their pages.
Will you do all of this with every call? Pragmatically, maybe not but, if this is potentially a $1,000,000 call, you would have to be an idiot not to! Armed with this information you will be able to truly prepare for that call or appointment well in advance of actually making it. this beats dancing every time and your prospect will be both impressed and amazed. Trust me. You will be providing them with what is probably a totally unique experience. Someone who, on the first meeting, already knows more about them and what they do then perhaps anybody has been able to demonstrate in eons.
When magic time comes around (award the order), and given two proposals that are both from great companies with great products and service and almost identical pricing, who gets the order? Something has to, and will, shift the weight on the scales. If you are the one who did your homework, and demonstrated that effectively, and your competitor did not … game, set, match. You are the one eating steak while Mr. Unprepared will be dining on beans.
What tips might you have for the rest of us. It’s a jungle out there and fighting lions is always easier in groups!