Provocative title, isn't it? In all of my 20+ years in corporate marketing, advertising, sales, product management, and training, I found one overarching rule that virtually guarantees a positive response and sale from any prospect — STRUCTURE. I know — there are some salespeople who like everything to be loose, open, and flowing during the sales call. Totally understand.
I feel there needs to be an underlying structure to your interaction (with the occasional flowing conversation) to ensure your key talking points are communicated, the prospect gets the correct info at the right time, and you have the ability to do a proper close and get a response (and hopefully, next steps).
As an example, I'm going to reveal my complimentary coaching call structure ("open kimono" if you will - I teach this to all of my mentor coaching clients):
The basic structure is:
- Opening - 2-3 minutes (5%)
- Intro - 'Me' - Background/How I Coach - 5 minutes (8%)
- Coaching - 'You' coupled with In-Depth Coaching - 20-35 minutes (33-58%)
- Feedback on Coaching - 2 minutes (3%)
- Close & Next Steps - 15 minutes (25%)
As you can see, the power of my call is in the Coaching — it provides the flexibility and personalization for the client. Everything else is structure. Why the 20-35 minutes? If I feel there isn't a fit (and after 10 years coaching, I can feel this immediately) — I shorten the call dramatically. Why waste their time (and mine)?
Even within each area, I carefully hone what I say to ensure I stick to my schedule AND provide all the 'buy' phrases for the prospect to latch onto.
So when you are selling (and it doesn't matter if you're in corporate or you own a business - you're ALWAYS selling), what is your basic structure?
How do you start the conversation? How do you spin it around and get them comfortable speaking? Opening really means getting them to open-up and feel relaxed speaking with you about a need they might have.
You need to 'credentialize' you and your services/products. They need to quickly understand you are a serious professional, at the top of your game. You also must position your qualities with their needs. All in 5 minutes (8% of the call). Why? No one really cares about you — they want to talk about their situation. But this area is critical - it has to be a 'quick hit' - get in, say what you need to say, and get out.
This is the area you can flow and work your magic. Let them speak about their issues, problems, or needs. LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN. This also gives you the opportunity to position your wares effectively.
If you've done your work in the previous section, you should get a positive response. If you don't, this is the perfect time to go deeper and find out why they are not aligned with you.
Close & Next Steps
I give this area 25% of the time to not only clearly describe the specific offering for the client (with pricing), but to also handle any objections that might crop up. I always end with next steps — a follow-up call, a welcome packet, etc. I NEVER leave the next interaction hanging.
Do you have a well-rehearsed, timed, and successful structure for your sales pitch?
I close 75% of clients I truly want to work with. Do you?