When you get an email from a prospect with one of the following requests, what do you do?
- Send me a quote for..
- Provide us with more information about..
- We'd like a proposal..
- Forward us a brochure on..
If you thought, "reply by email," you just put your prospect firmly in control of the sales process.
The reason is found in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
The easiest way to understand NLP is draw a circle (the "communications pie") and divide the circle so one half is slightly bigger than the other. This represents our body language and other non-verbals, like clothing, which contribute about 55% to our communication with our prospect.
Take the smaller half of the communications pie and divide it so one piece is significantly larger than the other. This represents our tonality, which contributes about 38% to our communication with our prospect.
Even those of us who aren't very good at math with see that there is only 7% of the communications pie left. That 7% is the actual words used in a communication with our prospect.
Of course we can dramatically mess up a communication with a prospect with our words; however, in almost all cases our body language and tonality will determine how successful we are in interacting with our prospect.
Now, let's pretend you did send that email. Using the math above you're only being 7% effective with your communication to your prospect and they get to determine the tonality of your message! Probably not how you want to sell.
Next time you receive an email with a request like the ones above, the following will put you back in control of your sales process and allow you to use 100% the communications pie.
First: Pick up the phone and call your prospect - at the very least find out why they sent the email. Then get an appointment, preferably in person or, if for geographic reasons you can't meet in person, over the phone. In the case of phone meetings, tonality counts for 93% of the communications pie.
After you set the appointment:
- Bring the future to the present (send information) - if your prospect requested information or a brochure ask your prospect to help you understand what they expect will happen at your meeting, only send information after a meeting is confirmed, based on their review of your information. More often than not your prospect will agree to forgo their request for information until after you meet.
- Bring the future to the present (quote or proposal) - if your prospect requested a quote or proposal, you must completely understand their reasons for asking for a quote or proposal. Usually this requires an initial meeting. At the end of that meeting, determine with your prospect what will happen next if, at your next in person meeting, they love everything in your proposal or your quote fits the budget you confirmed in your initial meeting.
If the answer in situation A or B is something like, "we'll think about it for a few weeks and call you," consider if you want to invest your time and resources to work with this prospect.
By choosing to ignore the steps suggested above we resign ourselves to being only 7% effective and that is a choice few professional salespeople would make.