I was talking with a business owner (prospect) about how challenging it has been in their market to get new business. I asked if his sales team was making any cold calls and he responded by saying "cold calling is a waste of time, it's unproductive activity and doesn't work in our business"..."what we really need are more leads"..."my sales people are professional and an expensive resource so I don't want them wasting their time on cold calls"!
I've learned that arguing with someone about an "opinion" is equally unproductive, as well as not representative of our selling model. I wanted to suggest that I had a different opinion and that he had been sold a "bill of goods" by either lazy (lead dependent) sales people or a Marketing department looking for a bigger Marketing/Advertising budget (job security and better lunches from vendors!)
I had a prospect in front of me with "motive and pain" (opportunity) and wanted to argue, but quickly remembered what I teach and went into my "consultant mode". Rather than "argue and tell my opinion(sell)" I needed to ask questions or make "ground zero statements" that would allow my prospect to cast doubt on his thesis and essentially get him to "argue with himself".
So I started with:
"That's interesting, you've obviously studied your business and know what works..." (by suggesting I agree with his comments I remove any defensiveness from the situation). You're not alone I have other clients with exactly the same problem (third party reference, removes defensiveness, builds rapport).
"It sounds like your sales people are very busy and use their time wisely... I'm sure every minute of every day is spent on productive activity and they never have any down time" (never is hard to accept).
and got the response:
"Well, I'm not sure I'd go that far and frankly I question how busy some of them really are". "I have a couple of sales people who have low handicaps and expense an awful lot of golf".
and continued with:
"So in a sense, some of what they do is already unproductive..."
"Well of course I suppose that's true..." (movement)
"I would also guess that with all the leads you give them they appreciate what they get and close a high percentage of their opportunities."
"And you have a system in place that can tell you the exact closing % of all those leads..."
"Well, we really don't keep track of every lead so I'm not exactly sure what happens to all of them"(weak sales management and accountability).
"And I'll bet they never complain that the leads aren't any good..."
"Oh, we hear that all the time, they whine a lot that's why I said we need more leads".
(It's amazing, sales people will tell you cold calls don't work and that they need more leads, and then in the same breath tell you that the leads the company provides are of poor quality. Remember "Glenn Gary, Glenn Ross"?)
Well, since you have suggested that they have some unproductive time on their hands (his words not mine), and since they complain about the leads they get anyway, maybe getting more leads is not the answer... maybe the answer is helping them do a better job on the leads they have and put some of that unproductive time into making cold calls.
"But I told you cold calls don't work..."
"Yes, and you didn't want them to waste time, but now you just told me that your sales people have some unproductive time on their hands when they are essentially doing nothing".
"Cold calls don't work well, but they do work! They are a low percentage activity, but need to be part of the equation. I guess you can let your people waste their unproductive time doing nothing, or have them use their unproductive time on an a low percentage activity that will probably work better than doing nothing".
Would you be open to a discussion on how some of our other clients have resolved this issue (third party reference)...
Now, that's the end of the story and you may be asking why I told it. There are two reasons... first, a demonstration of "the art of persuasion". I am faced with this exact situation on a regular basis when I talk with people about cold calls (sales people and company management). My response is well crafted and practiced... something you need to do for the objections you will face in your business.
Second, cold calls work, but are appropriate only after you have done all of the other "high%" prospecting activities that we teach in our program. Most sales people are looking for people like me to tell them that "cold calling doesn't work". Sorry, I won't do that because I know better. You may not like them, you just have to do them. There are unpleasant aspects of every job in life and in sales prospecting is one of them.
Action Step: Next time you are on a sales call (already spent the time and money to get there), think about walking next store and asking for the name of the contact you usually work with. The worst thing that can happen is you will get the name and address of a company you can "nurture market" too. Funny thing... someone may just want to talk with you!