Prospecting is hard.  Sometimes responding to a prospect’s requests is difficult, too.

A client asked me this week how she should respond to this reply to a prospecting email:

This response was the first from the prospect after an initial email sent cold from the seller. Let’s set aside, for now, the fact that the target likely wasn’t very high in the prospect’s organization and shouldn’t have been the individual to whom our seller reached out.   This is the person who the sales executive reached and now she’s made a request.  The ball is in the seller’s court.

Two requests:  Information and pricing. I coached that the seller should answer directly and confidently with her written words.

Like nearly every Business to Business selling company, figuring out a pricing range for my client is really not too difficult.  Within the target market, we can figure out the highly likely range of fees for the most likely product and services mix. If you don’t agree with me, read that last sentence again and pay attention to the italics.   Every business-to-business selling enterprise can figure out the minimum clients can get away with paying and the most a client has paid.  I would love to talk to you if you think your company is different. 

Breaking it down, do you know these three things?

  1. Target Market
  2. Standard Offering
  3. Usual Range of Fees

For this situation, we can look at the prospect’s web site and figure the range of startup and annual fees/subscription with a high degree of certainty.  

Knowing this, I coached the seller not to hide behind the old “well, we have to talk about it first” claim because we know that’s not true.  So many sellers do this and it’s SO ANNOYING.

All the prospect needs is a reasonable range to take to her executives.  As in many situations, I asked the seller how she would feel if the tables were turned.  If she asked for pricing and the seller didn’t answer directly.  Don’t we hate that?

For example, imagine you need a new roof and it just so happens a roofing telemarketer calls you.  You tell the roofing telemarketer that before you hear anything else you would like to know the price first. The roofer knows what neighborhood you live in.  He should be able to answer you directly, “New roofs in your area generally fall between X and Y dollars, but I’ll have to come out to give you an actual price.”   If you’re being reasonable and the range is not ridiculously large, isn’t that a good response?

I gave the seller this suggested language: 

Looking at <<Prospect Company’s>> website it appears you have <<main pricing metric>>. Pricing for a company your size would likely fall somewhere in the range of ….”

Now, what do we do about the request for information? 

Keep in mind the goal of prospecting here is to get an initial conversation, it’s not to close the deal.  Well, with some SalesReformSchool™ help, we’ve documented in the sales playbook the most important information we can send –

  1. Who we help,
  2. What objectives we help our them – our customers – achieve, and
  3. How we do it.  

Along with a few supporting links to items on the seller’s web site, that’s the information to send. 

Epilogue:  The seller and prospect have exchanged multiple emails and they are now in the proposal stage. Woo-Hoo!

More on Prospecting

In a LinkedIn post, I briefly compared the two opposite-ends-of-the-sales-cycle skills – prospecting and closing.  Many like the seller above have to do both.  Maybe that should be “all like the seller above should have to be able to do both”, but that’s an argument for another day.

But maybe Rick Epstein, an excellent outside salesperson and longtime friend of mine, put it best:

30 years of outside sales experience has provided me with the following analogy I often share with young sales people. In the sales cycle…Prospecting is the Gas…Closing is the Ferrari. The Ferrari sits in the garage and looks really good but without gas that is where it stays. Show me a sales person that says he closes 80% of his sales and I will show you someone who does not have an extensive prospecting pipeline. Both areas are integral to the sales process but given the choice of a good prospectors who is a weak closer and a weak prospector who is a good closer… give me the salesperson that can generate leads over a person that known as just a closer. At the end of the day without gas no matter how nice the car… it just does not matter. Easier to tweak a salesperson’s skill set to close than to instill the effort needed to be a successful prospector.

What do you think?

SalesReformSchool: Food for Thought

You may have noticed a lack of SalesReformSchool lessons this summer.  If you missed them, I apologize.  My goal is to write them once a month, so I’m not adding to your flood of emails Like a lot of people, I suffer from laziness, procrastination, failure of stick-to-it-ness, and maybe/probably even a little Attention Deficit Disorder (Mrs. SalesReformSchool is asking sarcastically “maybe/probably?”). These posts have self-imposed deadlines which are the worst.  Do you stink at self-imposed deadlines, too? 

In an excellent post, How to Motivate Yourself When You Don’t Have a Deadline, Elizabeth Grace Saunders suggests these three strategies:

  • Making a Deadline,
  • Enlist Positive Peer Pressure, and
  • Incentivize Yourself

For the incentive, I’m thinking of chocolate cake.  You?

SalesReformSchool: Extracurricular

I think we need some more plants around here.  Maybe, you do too.  Maybe our lives and well-being depend on it