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Working for free By Kim Jones

Recently I sat down with a prospect whose sales had been below goal by almost 70% for several months. I asked her to share her typical day with me. She said, “Kim, I get to my office by 8:00AM. I make calls to prospects and follow-up on leads. In the afternoons I spend most of my time pulling together information for prospects on the financial markets, retirement products and stocks they’ve asked about.”

I asked her to tell me more about the research she was doing. “For example, I met a man who was very interested in an international stock. None of the other brokers he spoke to would help him get any information on the company. I researched the company for him and I even got my company’s international trading desk involved.” When I asked her how many shares he bought she replied that after she sent him the information she never heard back from him. So, what went wrong?

Unfortunately, this new sales person is engaging in what I like to call “free consulting”. It happens when we are so excited about a possible sale that we spend hours putting together a fabulous proposal or PowerPoint presentation for a prospect. We set up a follow-up appointment, make our big presentation and then…nothing. Our “prospect” takes all of our hard work and disappears into thin air. Our phone calls and e-mails go unanswered for weeks.

How can you stop this “free consulting”? By making sure the prospect has some skin in the game. Get them to commit to a clear next step. Ask the prospect, “When I come back with my proposal, and assuming you like it, what happens then?” Will they sign on the dotted line immediately or are there other steps involved in closing the deal. Don’t do a bit of homework until they have committed to you about what will happen next. If they are not willing to commit to a clear next step be prepared to walk away because they probably aren’t serious about buying from you.

This frees you up to go out and find more qualified prospects and prevents you from wasting time doing a lot of useless proposals and presentations. Happy selling.
With over 15 years of corporate sales and marketing experience, Kim Jones has been training sales and non-sales professionals on ways to “Stop Selling & Make More Money”. She can be reached at kim@burg.com or 1-800-939-1393 ext 703.