14. How do you open new accounts?
"Your job is not to talk, but to listen - not to present, but to ask questions."
"I forgot they were coming!"
"I wonder how long this is going to take."
"My production supervisor is on vacation."
"My office manager called in sick this morning!"
"YIKES! Look at all the stuff they have with them!"
"There are two of them - they will probably never stop talking."
"This is going to take forever - I've got to do something - fast."
"I see they have a price book - good - I know how to get rid of them."
"I'll get a price quote on something and tell them they are way too high.""
If you are having the door slammed in your face before you even have a chance to say hello - you may be doing it wrong.
Let me explain.
Why do you go to the office before an appointment and gather a ton of brochures, fill your brief case with samples, get a complete product list, take your laptop, and ask someone else to go on the sales call with you?
Your first mistake is thinking that the potential customer is remotely interested in you or what you are selling. You mistakenly think that they want to read your brochures (they don’t), listen to your sales pitch (they have a hundred other things that are more pressing) and ask questions about you and your company (they really don’t care). You mistakenly think that you are showing the importance you put on the appointment because there are two of you.
When they agreed to the appointment - you caught them at a weak moment. I am sure you have heard of “buyers remorse”. Let me introduce you to a new concept – “agreeing to an appointment remorse.” As soon as they hang up the phone it starts - "Why did I agree to see that sales person?"
Agreeing to an appointment is like buying on a credit card - easy to make the purchase - hard to pay off. Something you said may have sparked a small interest during your initial phone conversation - that spark has long since gone out by the time you show up.
So the question is: Why do you bring all this stuff with you and why do you invite someone to go along? You might be thinking that the reason is to be prepared.
The answer is - you lack confidence. I know – that’s tough to swallow – but it is the truth. Having all this stuff and bringing someone with you assures you that you will have something to talk about.
Here is a little known secret about selling. Your job is not to talk, but to listen - not to present, but to ask questions.
The first thing you have to do is lower the prospects defenses. You do this by going alone and not taking anything, or anybody, with you. No computer, no brochures, no prices, not even a brief case. This takes courage because most sales people are taught that their job is to "show and tell." When you walk into an account "unarmed" and simply ask permission to ask a few questions, there is very little pressure on the buyer and even less on you.
As a professional, you have to evaluate the account to see if it will be profitable for you to invest your time with them. You have to position yourself to be on the offensive rather than the defensive when making a new account call. If you don't have your price book and someone wants to put you on the defensive by asking for a price – simply say "I don't know" and continue to ask questions about their business.
The process of calling on an account without a lot of baggage is similar to a visit to the dentist or doctor - you would want a complete examination before getting an operation or having a tooth pulled.
The first time you try it you will feel "unprepared." That is a good sign - it means you are trying something new and at the brink of learning a new skill.
I would like to challenge you to make a few cold calls this week completely unarmed - not unprepared - just unarmed.
What are you going to talk about? You are not going to talk - you are going to ask questions.
What person in their right mind would say 'no' to a question like this: I am here to talk about YOU - do YOU mind if I ask YOU a few questions about YOUR business to see if I might be able to be of service to YOU and help YOU achieve YOUR goals?