When budgets get frozen many sales people stop calling customers who have put their purchasing decisions on hold. After all, when there’s no budget there’s nothing to sell, so why make a sales call? In addition, customers are reluctant to be taken to lunch when then have no opportunity to return the favor by placing an order.
But the secret to long-term success lies in being the trusted advisor—the go-to person—for your current and future customers. Although most sales pros know this, few know how to effectively accomplish it.
Here’s the problem:
How can you remain a trusted advisor to your customers when you aren’t talking with them? You can’t. If you want customers to buy from you when they DO get budget, you must stay in touch and offer value now.
Here’s the two-part opportunity:
First, cement your current relationships to keep your competitors out of your accounts; and second, begin the process of becoming the trusted advisor for your competitors’ customers. If your competitors are ignoring their customers, it may be easier than you think.
Now is the time to call everybody on your prospect and customer list. If your business is slow, you should have plenty of time to make these quick calls. And you most likely won’t have much competition.
Here’s a sample script to start the conversation:
“I know you don’t have budget right now. But I also know that’s not a permanent situation because you still have your job. (Pause) So let’s have a conversation about your future plans, after all, I’m here to offer advice and help you plan for the future. So let’s meet for breakfast this week. I want to show you what’s coming, so that when you do have budget, you’ll be ready to get the edge over your competition. What morning works for you?”
Breakfast makes the best time for meetings because everybody appreciates a free breakfast and it’s the cheapest meal you can buy. Most customers will accept a breakfast meeting even when they would be reluctant to meet you for lunch.
If you schedule correctly, you can have two breakfast meetings every morning, giving you 10 face-to-face calls a week that your competition may be ignoring. (A note of caution, if you’re eating 10 bacon and eggs breakfasts, you’ll have to schedule extra time for your workout.)
In the meeting, instead of pitching your product, ask these four questions.
1) “When do you think your situation is going to turn around?” This question identifies the people you need to track. If they think things will get better soon, they are more likely to buy than someone who’s afraid to spend.
2) “What’s the next step in moving towards your vision for your company?” This identifies their next logical purchase. If you can help them take that step, this is a warm prospect.
3) “Where do you think the funding will come from to do that?” If funding is coming, you’re getting hotter. If not, perhaps you can help with leasing, trade-in allowances, or budget reallocation from operational savings.
4) “What can I do to help?” This is the ultimate sales close because it doesn’t sound like one. You’ll be surprised and delighted with the answers you get.
Now you can talk about your offerings in the context of helping them get to where they want to go. Voila, instant trusted advisor. When their budgets return, these customers will now come to you instead of your competitors—all for the price of breakfast.
Now you’re CompetitionProof!