Monday, August 5, 2013

Endless Prospects - Part I

Endless Prospects: Who Do I Talk To Next Now That My Original List Of Names Is Running Out?



- by Bob Burg

No question about it; your company provides the best product or service in your field. So, what's the problem? Only that without an ongoing and ever-increasing number of quality names that you can add to your list on a daily basis, you'll eventually run out of people to share your products or services with. That thought can be downright discouraging, can't it? Then again, that doesn't have to happen . . . ever!

One major reason salespeople are intimidated by the prospecting process is because they feel they must put on their "prospecting hat" before they step out the door. As though they must sneak around the mall, lurk from behind a door, overhear conversations of people in need, and find all sorts of clever ways to begin conversations with strangers.

Or, knock on the doors of people who don't want to answer. Or, spend hours "dialing for dollars" on that "seemingly 50-pound object of intimidation" known as the telephone. 

Then, of course, once the conversation takes place, they must ask pointed, personal questions in order to discover needs. What this typically accomplishes, more than anything else, is to make a prospect nervous and defensive, and the salesperson the same. Instead, let prospecting happen naturally, and in such a way that the prospect enjoys the conversation as much as, if not more, then you do.

How? Ask questions. But not just any questions. Try "feel-good" questions. Feel-good questions are simply questions designed to put your prospect at ease, to make him or her feel good about themselves, about the conversation, and most importantly, about you! These are questions that will not come off as invasive, or "prospecting" in nature. Feel-good questions are simply questions that, by their very nature, will make your prospect feel good; about themselves, about the conversation, and about you. That is key because the fact is, "all things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust. Asking feel-good questions is the first step to accomplishing that goal.

So what are some of these "Feel-good" questions? Again, keep in mind that they have no purpose other than to elicit good feelings toward you from the other person. In other words, you won't ask this person if they are "in a rut" or "totally dissatisfied" with their life or the competitor's product they're presently using, and ready to throw themselves off a bridge until you've come along.

The first question is, "How did you get started in the 'widget' business?" I call this the "Movie-of-the-Week" question because most people love the opportunity to "tell their story" to someone. This, in a world where most people don't care enough to want to know their story. Be sure and actively listen, and be interested in what they are saying. 

A good second question is simply, "What do you enjoy most about what you do?" Again, you are giving them something very positive to associate with you and your conversation. This is much better then asking the alternative question, "So, what do you just hate most about what you do . . . not to mention the wretched life you are so obviously living?" (Sure, I'm kidding, and I know that no one would ever actually ask that question literally, but keep in mind that it isn't just what we ask, but how we ask it.)

You've begun to establish a nice rapport with your new prospect. You are focusing on him or her, as opposed to you and your awesome products or opportunity, as most distributors do. This person is starting to feel good about you and has enjoyed answering your first two "Feel-good" questions. Now it's time for the "One key question," and here it is:

"Gary, how can I know if someone I am speaking with would be a good prospect for you?" 

What have you accomplished by asking that question? Two things; First, you've continued to establish yourself as being different from all others they meet who are in business, who only seem to want to know, "How can you help me." People might not come right out and say that, but isn't that what they imply when they hand the person 10 business cards, telling them to "keep one for yourself and give the rest to your closest friends."? Instead, we are letting them know that our interest is in helping them. And that is always acceptable to a person (so long as you are, and are perceived, sincere).

Secondly, since we are asking for help in identifying their prospects, she will gladly supply us with an answer. And the fact is, nothing builds trust and credibility with a prospect than actually referring business to them whenever possible.

Your conversation has ended and you never even brought up your products, services or opportunity. Good, since your relationship with this new prospect may not be far enough along for him or her to be receptive to it (at other times it's VERY advisable to bring it up -- we'll cover that in a future article). That's fine. Hopefully, you've gotten your prospect's business card. Notice I did not say, "Hopefully, you've 'given' your prospect 'your' business card." Why not give him yours? Because he doesn't need it or want it right now (unless he directly asks for it), and since you have his, you are in the position to follow up correctly and systematically.

First though, if you are at a public gathering where you met this new prospect (Chamber of Commerce function, charity event, social gathering) make sure to introduce him or her to others who you already know or have met. Give each person a nice introduction, describe what each does for a living, and suggest how they can each know how to know who would be a good prospect for the other. Do all this without ever mentioning your products or business. You are now positioning yourself in their minds as a true "center of influence." People are very receptive to meeting with, and receiving business advice from, centers of influence.

Whether meeting new people in a one-on-one situation during any day and for whatever reason, or meeting people at small or large gatherings, following the above will help you to very quickly build your names list with high-quality people, and in a way that is fun for both you and your prospect. You'll never again have to feel the "discomfort" in the pit of your stomach, knowing that you have to nervously and clumsily approach someone who you don't want to approach, and whom you can just sense, does not want to be approached.

In future articles, we'll continue the prospecting process. As the old song by The Carpenters", began, "We've only just begun." 

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