Selling More - First call Effectiveness - Part 2
By Craig Elias of InnerSell
[Review Part 1]
How many sales opportunities started out strong with the customer calling you first, only to be lost to a competitor? What happened?
In the previous article on emotional favouritism, I discussed how to create a value-added relationship with your potential customers by leveraging your network to address ALL their needs. By creating value beyond what you sell and building a trusting relationship, you maximize the likelihood of the customer calling you first. Being called first gives you an edge over the competition, but it does not guarantee the sale.
Most "sure thing" sales are lost because during your initial contact you failed to help the customer understand that you can address their needs and are capable of delivering the solution. If the customer does not trust in your ability to solve their problem and deliver a solution at minimum risk to their credibility, then the customer will keep searching for a viable alternative. Fail to establish credibility and you force your customers to do the unthinkable: call your competition.
Understanding the Psychology of Buying - The second part of successful selling is what I call first call effectiveness, a critical component in maintaining your emotional favourite status. If you can shift a customer from the searching for a solution to the point where they feel they have a solution, the customer becomes emotionally attached to that solution and moves on to addressing other needs.
The customer begins to emotionally invest in your solution, telling their boss or co-workers how they found the ideal answer. Once they've invested in your solution, they can't choose a different solution until the first solution provider lets them down, giving them cause. Additional research is an exercise to justify the soundness of the solution and drive the price down. The next vendor now has to overcome or eliminate that emotional involvement in the initial solution.
Walk a Mile in Your Customers' Shoes - Think of the last time you decided to purchase a specific product or service. With your mind made up, you called your preferred vendor. How quickly did your desire cool when they didn't solve your problem or respond immediately to your request? Like most customers, you probably moved down your mental checklist to the next vendor. It happens all the time. Why should you as the customer wait to purchase a product or service from an unresponsive or uninformed vendor? You shouldn't. And your customers won't either.
Path of Least Resistance Selling - How you react to your customer when they approach you in a favourable buying mood will ultimately determine your success. First call effectiveness is a key component here. As a sales professional, your job is to remove all barriers to buying. The easier it is to buy your product or service, the more likely the prospect will move forward. Leave your customers waiting for your internal processes to catch up and (unless you sell a one-of-a-kind, absolutely must-have product) your prospect will move on or opt not to buy.
How Credibility and Risk Impacts Selling - First call effectiveness relies on establishing credibility to the point where the customer's perception of your credibility is greater than their perception of risk of doing business with you. If your potential customers don't believe in your ability to solve their problems and deliver a solution, they will continue searching for alternatives.
When a customer calls you first, you have a unique opportunity to shape a solution to their problem around what you sell. What starts out as a simple need could expand to an integrated solution, given the proper approach and careful research during the first call your customer makes to you.
First Call Effectiveness - Maximizing Your Credibility:
Rule One: Don't end the sales call until you have either: a) solved the problem; or b) established credibility with that customer. Solving the problem immediately may not be possible. In those cases either: a) ask to put your customer on hold and find a solution; or b) establish your customer's belief in your ability to deliver a solution and request to call back with an answer within a specified time frame, and make sure you meet or exceed that delivery date.
Rule Two: The key to establishing your credibility is to engage your customer in problem solving dialogue by asking questions like:
- If we could do A (primary need) and B (secondary need) without C (an undesired outcome), would that be a suitable solution?
- How soon do you need a solution delivered by? If we could deliver our solution in your time frame, what would prevent you from buying from us? If they say nothing, move on to getting what you need from the customer to get started.
Now that the customer is committed to you and your solution, they are unlikely to contact the competition until you have completed designing and pricing the solution. Then it's simply a matter of comparison for good measure. The difference is you had days or weeks to shape and present a solution and your competition will be asked to respond immediately.
Maximizing your first call effectiveness will always position you well to win the sale because you've made it easy for the customer to choose you and have established an emotional barrier for your competition.