When trying to land a new customer, it takes more than just dialing for dollars. It is great when you call, walk in or email a prospect, ask him (or her) for a meeting and he says “yes.” But sometimes he says “no.” Sales reps cannot take “no” as a final answer, because they only have so many opportunities to sell in their territories. A large school district, law firm, mega church or hospital cannot go by the wayside just because a company representative told you “no” or “not now.”
There is, however, a tactic or process for turning a “no” or “not now” into a meeting. Here at the Kingston Training Group, we call that tactic the “Client Success Story at Night.” Here is a possible scenario that you, as a sales rep, might come across:
Rep: “I am calling to schedule a meeting with you. Insert the pitch. How does Tuesday the 15th at 9:45 sound?”
Prospect: “Thanks, but we are all set right now.”
Rep: “Understood. But may I ask you one quick question? When during the calendar year does your law firm evaluate how its technology budget is performing? Does that happen on insert a date four months from today’s date. Does that review fall within your responsibilities?”
This forces the prospect to tell you whether or not he is the right point person and gives you an idea of when the company may review its current technology. If he says “never,” then you are approaching someone who is not open to prospecting by phone. Most of the time though, a prospect will give an answer.
Prospect: “Well, our fiscal year ends … ” or “It is not me you need to speak to, but ... ” or “Not until … ”
Rep: “Thanks John. I will reach out to schedule a meeting with you then. Thanks so much.”
So, what should you do between now and when the prospect said he may be ready to review how his company’s technology is performing? Call frequently asking for the meeting anyway? Pester the prospect even though you both agreed that you wouldn’t? This is a situation where you need a technique to continue going after that prospect in a way that will keep you in his mind, but will honor the promise that you will not pester him for a meeting until the aforementioned time when his company might be ready to review its technology needs.
As noted, I call this tactic "Client Success Story at Night." You should call the prospect about once a month (in the middle of the month) at night (to be sure you get his voicemail) and then use that opportunity to tell the prospect something about your technology solution may relate to to his current business needs.
Here is where to get that content. Set up a Google Alert for that business. If you do not know how, search Google for “Google Alerts” and the process will be explained. These alerts notify you when there is something happening on the Internet about that company. For instance, if you are going after a large law firm, that firm might post a press release about winning a case, job openings, changes to their website, articles written about any of their attorneys, etc. Make a rule in your email that any Google Alerts must be sent to a folder. This will prevent a sales rep from having to review the alerts all month long. The sales rep can simply go to that folder and review all of the month’s alerts at one time. Here is an example of how to craft this information into a “Client Success Story at Night” voicemail:
Rep: “Hi John, this is Kate Kingston from … I wanted to congratulate you on winning that case … I know as the law firm takes on more clients, technology may need to change and this is one of the items I look forward to speaking with you about in our possible upcoming meeting. As you may remember, we discussed the option of possibly getting together after the start of your fiscal year in September. If you need me before that, my number is … ”
Another place to get content is from industry-specific trade publications just like this one. I am writing an article for this trade publication even though my company is not an office technology dealership. I read it every month because it talks about what my clients are interested in. It is the same for every sales rep. A sales rep could simply search Google for industry trade journals or magazines, and either subscribe to them and read them every month, or go on their websites and read featured articles without spending any money. Incorporate the information you learn from them into a friendly call at night.
Rep: “Hi John, it is Kate Kingston from … I was not sure if you read the article in the ABA Journal about billing sheet mysteries, but I found it interesting and know that many law firms may be challenged with accurate billing. I thought that might be one item we could discuss at our possible meeting after the start of your fiscal year. If you need me before that, my number is … ”
Another great place to find content is with the success story of a current client.
Rep: “Hi John, this is Kate Kingston. I was thinking about your firm this week. Because we are presently working with another law firm in regard to its technology to help increase billable hours while its attorneys are mobile, I thought that we may discuss this in our possible upcoming meeting after your fiscal year is over. If you would like to discuss this sooner, my number is … ”
A sales rep should follow this format once a month — every month — until it is time to call the prospect for the meeting. Then, all the rep needs to say on that call is as follows:
Rep: “Hi John, it is Kate Kingston from … ”
Prospect: “Hi Kate.”
Rep: “How is Oct. 3 for our meeting?
This works almost every time.
The “Client Success Story at Night” is a great way to stay in contact with your larger prospects, and show your interest, expertise and industry-specific knowledge that will eventually earn you that first new meeting. This strategy will turn a “no” or a “not now” into a meeting.
Kate Kingston is president of the Kingston Training Group, which provides prospecting sales training to office technology dealerships across the country. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.kingstontraining.com.