How do you get your prospects to move?

stubborn photo by Ernst Vikne

Sometimes the hardest part of this whole business thing is getting them to move!  Have you ever had the situation where you’ve had good meetings with potential prospective clients…and then you wait?

They know who you are.  They know what you do.  They need what you do, but for some reason they don’t move and you end up waiting for something to happen!

I’ve got a couple of clients facing this very situation – they’ve put a lot of time and effort into marketing, they’re getting initial meetings with what looks to be the right kind of people (qualified and in need) but things are moving slowly…or really not moving at all!

So what’s the problem?  Well it could be several things…there are times when things just slow down, so it may be just a matter of waiting and things will pick up.  The product might not be a fit (too expensive, not enough value, too general, etc.).  It could be that they’re not talking to the right people…if you’re selling tickets to a Royals game, then a baseball fan seems like the right target, but what you probably need is a Royals fan!

However it’s more likely that they aren’t giving their prospects the emotional ammunition to take action.  Decisions are made emotionally, logic comes into play to rationalize that decision.

Are you too logical?

One of the traps in sales is to put together an airtight case for why someone should buy your stuff.  You’ve got the coolest features, a list of benefits the length of your arm and it comes in 15 different colors.  You have all the bases covered.

All of that’s great stuff and it’s certainly important to think through, but it’s not going to get someone to move unless you also tap into what it means to them on an emotional basis.

A great example of what I mean comes from Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling – his book has been around for quite a while and it’s a powerful approach for anyone who’s selling something more complicated than a consumer widget.  I think it’s something you should absolutely read.

SPIN is an acronym that stands for:

Situation, Problem, Implication, Needs/Payoff

Through extensive research, Mr. Rackham determined that the most effective way to sell more complex products or services was to follow a process and a line of questioning that covers the SPIN components:

Situation – Ask questions that help you place where your potential buyer is coming from.  You need to understand the context and what’s going on.

Problem – Ask questions that identify the problems your buyer is experiencing, typically that becomes digging deeper on something that comes up during the Situation questions.

Implication – Here’s where you start to get into the emotions.  Ask questions that will uncover what this problem really means to the buyer.  This is where you can really quantify the impact.

Needs /Payoff – Finally the Needs / Payoff questions help the prospective buyer feel the emotions of what it would feel like to solve their problem…”If this problem was fixed, what would that mean to you?”

Questions and Emotions

Part of the reason that SPIN selling is effective is because it focuses on the power of Questions.  Questions, especially open ended questions, make sure the focus stays on the potential buyer…and not on you!

The other reason it works is because it gives you a repeatable way to tap into emotions, even if those are as simple as frustration with a problem and relief at a potential solution.  Without that emotion, they will NOT take action!

If your potential buyers aren’t moving, are you asking the right questions?  Are you getting them involved emotionally?

I’ve got a pretty cool worksheet that leverages the SPIN model – especially for Business to Business sales.  Contact me if you’d like a copy of it for free!

Do you have potential buyers who aren’t moving?  What are you doing to try to break that logjam?  What have you identified that might be holding things up?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

2 thoughts on “How do you get your prospects to move?”

  1. Shawn,

    Loved your post about the importance of asking good questions. In my experience as a salesperson and a sales coach, most salespeople (myself included) don’t always ask enough good questions.

    There seem to be at least two reasons. First, the skills for asking deep questions aren’t fully developed. This can be remedied with consistent learning programs. The second, (and bigger problem, in my experience), is that salespeople and their managers don’t give themselves permission to deviate from the corporate sales model of TELLING the message and just ask questions then listen.

    That’s a very hard thing for most of us to do.

  2. Andrew – thanks for the comment. I’m right there with you, it sounds like it should be easy to do, but the reality is that it takes a lot of practice, confidence and some idea of what you’re actually doing to do it consistently. Put me in the category of still learning!

Comments are closed.