Sales: Engage the Prospect First

Engage the prospect first?  Absolutely!

If you lead the sales presentation by telling Mr. Prospect how wonderful your company is; that your products/services are so superior to the competition; and start trying to close without identifying his needs, you have lost any opportunity to move the sale forward.  You have yet to focus on him or his needs.

What is wrong with this picture?  You know the saying that when you meet someone for the first time, within 5 minutes you have made your lasting impression on the other party.  Well, within those first 5 minutes, Mr. Prospect has already tuned you out because you have not made any attempt to include him in this sales process.

How do you engage, include or elicit participation from a first time prospect?

  1. Ask probing questions.  Get him to tell you about how his company operates, what they do, and how they do that.  Don’t be afraid to ask anything that you believe will help you understand their needs.
  2. Decipher the problems.  Again, you must ask.  You cannot assume anything even though you might have some prior experience in the industry, don’t get caught categorizing what you are hearing into a pat solution.  Be open-minded.
  3. Figure out why the issues are important.  You absolutely must get details here so that you understand exactly what is going on within this organization.

I learned in my senior Marketing Problems class in college, first you must identify the facts and determine the issues had hand.  As professional salesmen, you must engage the client first and foremost.

Only after you have accomplished this investigative portion of your visit, then you can move forward to the next steps:

  1. Conceive possible solutions  (figuring out what products/services will be the best fit for the application)
  2. Make suggestions that are client based–not what you want to sell them today (Forget that you are going to make a $100 bonus to sell the newest widget right off the production line)
  3. Create recommendations (if these do not match the problems, you do not have a potential solution)
  4. Justify each recommendation for each solution proposed. (This is a requirement…each recommendation must have a corresponding justification.)

In that marketing class, the groundwork was laid with us as potential salesmen–before you can expect to be successful in sales, you must always apply one of the Rules of Sales–Engage the Prospect!

Peggy P. Edge (c) 2014