“I work inside sales for a manufacturing company. The prospects I talk to are “middlemen” or OEM’s. A common response I get when making a follow-up call is “I haven’t heard from my customer yet,” or “We’ll see if the customer decides/orders.” This statement can also be used as a band-aid to reject the offer politely. How can I open this up or convert it to “yes, let’s move forward,”?”
The solution to this problem is handled on the previous call, not the follow-up call.
There are two important questions you want to ask on the original call before sending over the quote. They are:
1) “What happens next?”
When speaking with a prospect that is interested in your solutions/materials because they have a customer interested in a project, you still have to qualify YOUR prospect properly.
Just because you get a call-in or an inbound lead requesting info doesn’t mean they are always ready to buy and so if you skip steps in the qualifying process, you will have a bloated pipeline that will miss your monthly or quarterly quota.
Questions I would ask your prospect would center around:
- “What problem is their customer trying to solve?”
- “What’s their purchasing decision process like?” and…
- “When are they looking to solve it?”
Keep in mind, your prospect may not be a skilled salesperson, and so they may or may not have the answers to these questions. It would be up to you to encourage them to get the answers before giving them your “best price.” Besides, you could also be getting “shopped” by your prospect as well, so you do not want to present your best offer unless you know the deal is ready to close.
With that said, assuming you’ve properly qualified your prospect, as your original call starts to come to an end, ask your prospect this question before hanging up:
“Mr. Prospect, once I send over the quote, what happens next?”
If they give you sound step by step, clear answers like “I can get back with you by the end of the day to get the go-ahead” or something of that nature, you’re good to go.
However, if they say, “Well, I will send over the quote to my customer,” you need to reply with:
“Ok. Then what?” and wait for an answer.
This will give you a clear picture if your prospect has a good handle on his client, and it can also give you an indication if they are just shopping your price around.
If your prospect gives you an answer such as “I need to wait to hear back from my prospect” or some other objection/stall, your next question to ask them is this:
2) “Other than that, is there anything else stopping you from moving forward now?”
This question will help smoke out any objections that your prospect may be hiding behind. And if they are, it’s better to deal with it now, on the first call, rather than sending out your quote and playing the hope and see follow-up game.
– Michael Pedone
Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.
HOW TO MAKE SALES CALLS
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