This is a guest post by Rick Roberge. Rick is a trusted advisor and coach to sales rock stars and small business owners around the world, a columnist at Sold Magazine and the primary author of Sales Rock Stars and RainMakers Selling in the 21st Century and TheRainMakerMaker blogs.
Today, I probably told two dozen people to buy Sales Shift by Frank Belzer. It’s a good book and helps salespeople understand how Inbound Marketing has changed the sales world. Every time I introduced the book today, I shared my favorite story in the book. It's on Page 87, when Frank explains the concept of red light - green light.
Let me share one real life story (from today) that will show you how it works.
On a group coaching call, a salesperson shared, "I was notified of a new trial. I called and said, I noticed that you opened a trial and I'm calling to answer any questions that you might have. I got "haven't opened the trial. I don't have any questions." Voice is tense. I said, "Let's schedule an onboarding session" "Not at this time" click
Here's the problem. The salesperson anticipated a green light. He assumed that the customer wanted to talk to him. Frank tells us to imagine a red light. You see the red light and you start to slow down because the light may not turn green before you get there and you may need to stop. Now, clearly, if the prospect says, "Boy am I glad you called. I have all kinds of questions." That is not a red light. But, if the light stays red, STOP!
So, on the group call, I suggested that a good approach might be, "Were you able to download the trial okay?"
One of the reps on the call sent that quote in an email to a prospect that downloaded a trial a few days prior.
They replied, "sorry for the delay. Kidney stones have knocked me out for the last 5 days! I'll get back to looking at it tomorrow/friday. Thanks!"
(You can't make this stuff up!)
Now, another little twist is don't take big steps if you're not sure that your prospect can keep up. "I'm calling to answer questions." "Let's schedule an onboarding session." are giant steps to a person who might just be curious or in the very early stages of education. "Did it download OK?" is easy to understand and totally appropriate question, but more importantly, it's non threatening. People hear a salesperson say, "I'm calling to answer questions" and they translate it into, "I'm calling to find out if you're ready to buy." It's a 100 year old sales trick.
So, slow down, be prepared to stop, but even if you do move forward, take baby steps.
Another client shared an excerpt from a follow up email. "I noticed that you downloaded our eBook and you have an issue with ______________? I would be happy to give you a demonstration of....."
Whoa! She blew right through the red light without even slowing down.
Try baby steps and be prepared to stop. "I noticed that you attempted to download our ebook. Did it download OK?"