Written by Sean McPheat |
So you’ve finally got through to the decision-maker and had some form of conversation with them. They seem interested in what you have to offer. You get a tiny thrill of excitement, as you think this could actually be a sale in the offing.
Then they say those deflating words that make your heart sink. “OK send me a brochure or some info in the post and I’ll take a look”.
There could be many reasons why they want the information. They could genuinely want to know more before they make a decision; they might need to clarify some things before they take it further; they may be comparing other solutions and want the information to make that comparison; or they may be trying to end the call politely, just to get you off the phone.
You may not know at this stage, so it’s important you get some clarification.
Firstly, agree with what they have requested. “I’d be happy to send some information”
This maintains the ‘agreement-frame’ that you will have built up with the prospect.
Next, clarify exactly what information you will be sending. “So I don’t waste your time, exactly what would you like me to send and what will it enable you to do?”
This will help you to know what to send and also why they want it. You’re looking for them to use words like “we want to explore…..achieve…..solve….avoid….secure….”
These action verbs show you they’re serious about what they want to achieve and how the information will help them improve things from their perspective. If they say something along the lines of ‘Just send whatever you’ve got’, be aware this may not be a real need and you may want to probe a little deeper to see if the request is legitimate.
As soon as you’ve ascertained the reason for the request, you can confirm what information you will be sending through and also what the prospect will be doing with it. It also gives you a reason for calling back. It could go something like;
“OK, I’ve got some valuable information along with some testimonials that will help you in making your decisions, Mr Prospect. I’ll put it in tonight’s post to you, first-class. Let’s assume you’ve looked through the information. What will your next steps be?”
This confirms the tasks you will carry out and by when they should receive the information. It also helps you assess the next stages and determines the level of interest of the prospect. You can confirm what your next stages will be, so the prospect will be expecting your follow-up call or email.
Gaining commitment to the next stage is important here, as you don’t want to just send out information for the sake of it. That’s costly and could raise hopes when none really exist.
You need to identify the opportunities and show that you exist as a potential partner rather than just a possible supplier.
Depending on the prospect’s answer to your ‘next steps’ question, you can determine the level of interest and highlight what will happen next.
Something like, “Naturally, you’ll have questions related to the information, so I’d like to give you the opportunity to have those questions answered. If we schedule a call this time next week for a no-obligation assessment, we can see how this solution could fit in with your needs” could be a good step forward.
So, clarify why the prospect wants the information, specify exactly what they want it for so you can send the correct details, identify what they will be doing with the information and then plan the follow-up. This process will give you the best chance of success after the prospect has made a simple request.
Originally published: 8 January, 2015