John Bycroft, Managing Director of Aorta Sales, answers your questions about prospecting and sales.
That's it for today!
Thank you to everyone for sending in their questions & many thanks to John for providing his expert advice.
11:25 - The final question comes from Nathanial Gardner:
"Prospects often tell me they don't see sales people. I'm told to just email/fax our prices and they will call back. I've never increased business by handing out a price list, all it does is reduce calls and contact with the decision maker.
I would wecome your suggestions on how to get the customer to listen rather than give me the cold shoulder."
Being asked to send prices / details by fax / post / e-mail is a very common situation and in the main I agree wholeheartedly with our questioner; it is rarely the case that sending prices will result in an order. There are of course, as so often, exceptions to this (take-away pizzas come to mind!) and much depends on what exactly is being sold.
Depending upon what is being sold, it is wise if possible and commercially realistic to secure an appointment in order to run through requirements, options etc. in more detail. “It really is no problem as I am passing anyway” (aren’t you?).
Of course “send me the pricelist” may just be a polite way of saying “No” and in these ‘carbon footprint’ times one can often play the ecological card in not sending out prices, other than perhaps by e-mail and then following up to close the sale.
“What particular items are you interested in” may be used to qualify whether a request for the price list is a genuine enquiry or a put off and details of the prospect’s interest can be better determined.
Being told that the person you are speaking to “doesn’t see sales people” rings some alarm bells with me as this indicates that already there is some kind of ‘image’, maturity or relationship problem and the value of either the relationship here, or the benefits which you can bring, are not appreciated.
To answer this question more relevantly we would really need to know more about the specifics of what it is that you are selling.
You may also consider the sales audit option as outlined below.
10:50 - Suzanne writes in with this query:
“We are retailers of gourmet/speciality food but are having problems with marketing our website. We have limited advertising budget and are looking for cheap ways to get our name out to the general public. Any ideas for us?”
To answer this question, we would need to know much more about your specific product offering, target market(s), desired outcomes etc. Why is the website so important? Is it your primary sales channel? Etc.
We are in sales!, so we focus on selling! That means a focus on bringing in revenue, generating volume and making profit. There are many many different and generally more effective ways to generate sales which we would propose, perhaps linked to driving prospects to a web site, but we would be unlikely to recommend solely relying on 'marketing a website'.
This question is more orientated to marketing, the spending of money (albeit as cheaply as possible), the creation, influence or bringing together of circumstances to facilitate selling to take place. Very different to our own focus and expertise.
In this internet age, companies can spend a fortune on website promotion, specific search criteria ads, directing traffic to sites etc.......and not get anywhere.
This question indicates a lack of comfort with the sales and marketing mix and could well be the tip of the iceberg in terms of opening up possible improvements.
My recommendation here would be to book one of our 'sales audit workshops', the cost is £350 plus VAT for a half day session which delivers a critique of your current sales processes along with an outline sales strategy.
The £350 (less travel) is fully refunded if sales improvements of at least twice that value are not generated within a month.
For more information please e-mail
10:20 - Alistair also wants to know:
“Is there a standard formula for designing a prospecting strategy?”
Yes. There is a formula which we cover during the 'Art of Prospecting' seminar.
It needs to be specifically implemented having regard to your own procuct or service, business objectives and desired approach.
A standard framework though exists.
10:10 - Today's first queston comes from Alistair:
"What’s the difference between cold calling & prospecting?”
A very simple answer to this would be that 'Cold calling is searching for needles in a haystack. Prospecting is the act of locating haystacks.'
Cold Calling is random, generally demoralising and soul destroying - a questionable use of time.
Prospecting is intelligence led, coordinated, is directly linked to the company strategy and generates economies of both scale and scope.
On the 10th October 2007, John Bycroft will also be running the The Art of Prospecting workshop - which is free to EMIN members.