Salespeople Failing to Get Prospects to the Phone

Yesterday’s article discussed the problems that occur when you leave things up to your salespeople.  We also discussed some of the problems that salespeople have simply getting prospects to the phone.  It isn’t as simple as it should be.  Here is a real example from this morning:

A salesperson from a client company wrote in with this request:


What would your recommendation be on handling objections or stalls like this?

So I need to be incredibly rude again and cancel today.   I have meetings scheduled on top of ours today that I can’t miss.  At this time I do not want to continue to disrespect your schedules.  While I do want to learn more about [your company] I need to place this on a lower priority right now as many unexpected issues have crept up.

Let’s touch base in a couple of months and see if the timing is better.

Apparently, this was the second time this prospect cancelled.  The dialog between the salesperson and me follows:

ME: Why was Chris going to chat with you in the first place?

There isn’t any mention of the issue that needs to be resolved, only an opportunity to learn more about what [company] does.  From [prospect’s] perspective, that’s not a priority….

Assuming that you did learn of an issue in an earlier conversation, you would simply reply, “[prospect], this isn’t about me, it’s about you.  In an earlier call, you shared that you are having an issue with _______________ and we were going to discuss that problem and figure out whether we can help.  Has that problem gone away?”

SALESPERSON: Ok – Advice well received.  Have identified the issue and will use the coaching to respond.

ME: And the issue is?

SALESPERSON: Current system for the creation and distribution of [their competency] content is a time suck on key [competency] staff. 2 areas:

1.       fielding calls from sales reps to locate most up to date version of [their competency] materials. This also results in loss of sales rep productivity

2.       dealer sales channel request ability to [their competency]. Current system requires manual creation of “custom” [their competency] materials

ME:  Thanks – like we talked about yesterday, these are only issues and you’ll need to uncover compelling reasons when/if you get [prospect] on the phone.  That would be the impact – on the business as well as personally and professionally – of the time suck on key [competency] staff.

SALESPERSON:   Ok. In this situation, the compelling reason would be this…. I think:

Without freeing up the time that her [competency] is spending on administrative tasks, she will fail to reach her two primary goals for 2011: [Goals 1 & 2 omitted]. The cost of not fixing the problem is that she does not meet those goals & revenues for new sales are impacted.  Is this where I need to be or still deeper? The plan for the call was to validate that compelling reason & quantify it. Then move into demo…

ME: Still deeper…but the first step is to regain her interest and to do that you must go back to the issues she is facing and whether those issues have disappeared.

SALESPERSON: Ok… Thank you.

…….End of email thread……..

This is a great example of why so many salespeople waste so much time chasing down their prospects and why prospects do such a fantastic job of avoiding these calls and emails.  They don’t have time to hear product pitches and demos (their perception of what will happen next), but they will make time to learn if your salespeople can solve their problems.

How are your salespeople doing with that?