Assign Your Prospect Some Homework

Problem: Mitch’s company sold data storage solutions. A five-year veteran of selling, he called the other day for some coaching. He said that he had just completed a one-hour meeting with one of his top prospects, a large retailer who was a key prospect for his company. He explained that he had experienced difficulty getting the prospect into a discussion of pain and, when he finally did, he felt time pressure to hurry through the qualifying process. As a result, Mitch thought that he had done a poor job in the pain step. He said that this seemed typical of his meetings and that due to poor qualifying on his part, he was not closing some of the accounts that he thought he should.

Diagnosis: Unfortunately, Mitch lacked an effective way to quickly begin the pain qualification process. Without an effective tactic for getting quickly into the pain step, Mitch spent too much time building rapport and discussing inconsequential issues that only wasted both parties’ time. While there were a number of tactics to find pain that Mitch had learned, none seemed to be working well for him.

Solution: Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, they say, so we recommended another tactic. We told Mitch to add a new wrinkle to his initial meeting agreement. We suggested that he give his prospect some homework before the appointment. Mitch began saying the following to his prospects, “Mr. Prospect, in order to make our meeting as productive as possible, would you make a list of the two or three most challenging issues you are having with respect to data storage? Then we can really focus our discussion on your issues and try to develop a solution. Does that make sense?”

Interestingly enough, it did make sense to most of his prospects. When Mitch arrived at the appointment, he simply reminded the prospect about the list and asked what the issues were. From there, the pain conversation was easy to conduct. His got to the pain step quicker and was able to qualify in greater depth. He started closing more business because he understood the issues and was able to recommend better solution.

It worked for Mitch and it will work for you. Try giving your prospect some homework before your next call.