Sales Practices: Question and Answer

This is a Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

By Dave Kahle

Q. I struggle with knowing how much information I should leave when I’m making a cold call, or just beginning to warm someone up to one of my products. Are there any guidelines for this?

A.  Great question.  This is one of the more sophisticated issues that many sales people face.  I do have some thoughts.

The principle by which you should be guided is this: The amount of information you leave depends on where you are at in the sales process and your goals for the particular sales call in question.

For example, if it is the first call on a prospect, your goal is to get a second visit. It is not to sell the prospect anything, but merely to begin the process of developing a business relationship.  That means that you must get a second visit.  Otherwise you will have wasted your time on a dead end.

So, in that situation, you provide just enough information to prompt the prospect to grant you another visit. For example, you may be discussing a potential opportunity.  You have the solution in a brochure in your briefcase.  But, cognizant of the need to create an additional visit, you don’t immediately offer the solution.  Instead you say something like this:  “I have a solution that I’m sure will work for you.  Can we get together next week to let me show it to you?”

In this case, while you had the information, you chose to pursue the goal of an additional visit, rather than provide it now and risk that the customer would not want to see you again.

In a different place in the sales process, you may want to provide that information.  For example, if you have already dug into the customer’s situation and uncovered the details of his problem, and it is now time for you to present your solution, you would be well served to present the brochure and discuss the features and benefits of your solution.

You see that the different spot in the sales process, and the different objective for the call lead to a different decision.

There are no hard and fast rules for how much information to leave at each visit, but, if you will think carefully about where you are in the sales process with each visit, and what your specific objectives of this visit are, those two thoughts will lead you to a decision.

In other words, the answer to your question lies in the process you use to think about it.

One additional thought.  In today’s economic environment, we are all overwhelmed with too much information. As a general rule, sales people are guilty of adding to that mass.  Many sales people think that the more information they regurgitate to the customer, the more the customer is impressed with the sales person, and the more likely they are to buy.  Alas, that is just not true.  More sales are lost because the customer is confused and overwhelmed with information, than are lost because he doesn’t have enough.

In fact, I have observed a direct relationship between the depth of the relationship the customer has with you and the amount of information he requires.  In other words, the greater the relationship the customer has with you, the less information he requires to make the decision to buy.

I have often thought that the ideal presentation offers no information, and goes like this:  “We can do that.  Shall we go ahead?”

Think about it.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

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