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How to Engage Prospects in 60 seconds

7 Sep, 2004 By: Steven Power imageSource

How to Engage Prospects in 60 seconds

Never assume a prospect is familiar with the
company you work for. It’s very possible that even if you work for a major
corporation or a marquee local organization, your prospect still may not know
exactly who you are or what you do.

Where many salespeople go wrong is allowing the
prospect to define them and their value proposition instead of immediately
positioning themselves for maximum impact early in the initial sales call. This
is becoming especially important as many companies, similar to yours, are
morphing their businesses from a traditional copier dealership to more of a
total solution provider of document technology and related IT services.

The positioning statement is a sound bite that
defines who you are, what business you’re in, what’s unique about your
organization or product, what results you deliver to your clients, and how you
deliver those results. Your positioning statement will create intrigue and
leave your prospect wanting to know more.

The desired outcome of your positioning statement
is to get your prospect’s attention, make a profound first impression, define
yourself, and create intrigue. Here’s the format for creating your positioning

1.  Define specifically who you are

  • Your company

  • Your division

  • Your title and role

2.  Detail what business are you in

3.  Provide an explanation of the end result
your business can deliver

4.  Describe what is unique about:

  • Your company

  • Your products, services or

  • You

5.  Tell the client whom you do business with

  • Industry-specific

  • Title-specific references

6.  Give specifics of the results you can provide

7.  Explain how you work

  • Your sales process

  • How you go about
    delivering results

Let’s begin with who you are. While the question
is simple, the answer is not always so straightforward. What two or three words,
beyond the business’ name itself, define your organization?

This first step in this exercise generally results
in what is referred to as a “tag line.” Your tag line should be simple,
compelling and concise–just three to four words. A few examples are:
HP—“Invent,” Xerox—“The Document Company,” or Factiva—“Inspiring Business

Even if your organization already has a tag line
in place, you still need to define who you are personally—what division you work
in and what role you play in that division. For example: “I am with (your
organization and tag line). I am calling on behalf of the (your division). My
role is (your title).”

Next is likely the most misunderstood question in sales: “What business are you in?” I
start out most sales seminars with this simple question, “What do you sell?”
Some of HP’s imaging and printing people respond, “We are in the printer
business. We sell printers.” They are offering the most basic answer to
prospects by telling them what products they sell instead of captivating them with what business solutions their products or services deliver.

When I pose the question, “What business are you
in?” to top management and owners of businesses, they usually get it. Rich
Raimondi, vice president of Hewlett Packard’s Imaging and Printing group says,
“We’re in the information-delivery business.”

Next is what I call the “so what?” question.
Imagine during your presentation that the prospect is sitting in front of you
holding a flashing neon sign that says, “So what? Why should I keep listening?
What’s so unique about your organization, products, services, or yourself that
positions you head and shoulders above your competitors?” In other words, what
is your competitive distinction?

You’re now about a third of the way into your
sound bite. You sound intelligent and intriguing, far better than the last several
salespeople this prospect has seen this week. Now, it’s time to kick it into
another gear. You need to answer the prospect’s next two questions: “Why should I keep listening?” and even
more importantly, “Why should I consider engaging you as my consultative
resource?” Here’s where you do some name-dropping. Announce the names of your marquee
clients and state the results that your product, service or program enabled them
to realize. Be specific and quantifiable where possible.

It’s time to provide a brief explanation of how
you work. Tell the prospect about your process for engaging similar clients,
determining their requirements, and consulting and collaborating with them to
drive the desired results.

It’s really quite simple. Just explain your
consultative sales process from start to finish. It may sound something like

“The way I work is to first invest some time
assessing your requirements, your current situation, and your objectives and
challenges. I then offer a proposal and an implementation plan. With your
approval, we work together to implement the solutions. Finally, I commit to
measuring results and assisting you in managing the project on an ongoing basis
to assure that you achieve the maximum return on your investment."

So, there you have it, a 60-second sound bite that
positions you in the prospect’s mind as an expert resource who is intriguing and
compelling, focused on results, and a salesperson with a logistical process for
driving long term results. For maximum effectiveness, keep it simple, concise
(sixty seconds maximum) and compelling (no hype).

I am always amazed at how profound this exercise
is. Beyond a powerful sales tool, this positioning statement often becomes the
cornerstone of all sales presentations, marketing collateral, advertising
content, prospecting letters, and telemarketing scripts.

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