If you are in the startup world, you will recognize that whether or not you are a salesperson or not, there is salesmanship going on around every corner. Whether you are trying to get seed money from the latest tech investor in Silicon Valley, trying to make the big sale to a potential client, or working on a partnership with another company that could mean big things for both of you, there is going to be lots of sales. While I like to take a good hard look on team productivity and making sure that it is where it is supposed to be, we often make small mistakes that despite our effort, can destroy some of the leads we are working on. So how do we tell the good leads from the bad, and prevent the good leads from turning sour?
Give Your Lead Something To Do
The first thing that I advise people do to is make sure that the potential buyer is tasked with something between every meeting. Make sure that you not only establish a commitment for the next step before you leave the room, but that you also give them an assignment! Lets say that you have sat down with the prospect, you have prepared a proposal for them, bought them lunch, gone over the product, explained benefits and features, and how it can help them do business, and they are keen on it....you tell them you will send them more information after the meeting and that ends up being the last you hear from them. Why is that? Make sure there is a commitment for another meeting, or give them an assignment. For example, you could have them look over your proposal and set a date that you will call back and discuss other details in the deal.
Wait Until the Check Clears
You may figure because someone SAYS something that sounds like yes, or they are TOLD something, that the deal is done. The deal is not even done when the ink is dry on the paper. The deal is done when the check goes through the bank and not before. Don't assume that you know exactly what the client needs with just a short conversation. Do not assume that the guy you are talking to is the end-all to a business decision. Don't even THINK about thinking nor assuming because he shook your had that he is going to follow through. Do your "due diligence," and see the deal through to the end, no matter what happens. Do not leave it up the the potential client to finish your sale for you. You have to be the closer.
The last big problem of letting a hot lead turn cold is salespeople not comprehending where they stand on the sales deal. Not clarifying and unable to look at the big picture. For example, lets say you own a Data center and you are selling hosted server solutions. When a potential client walks in the door, (metaphorically speaking), and you talk to them and they don't want a hosted server, you likely brush them off as a lost sale. I have seen this type of situation happen so often it blows my mind. Every person needs and wants what you have, they just may not know it yet. Watch this brush off happen, then watch how this person ends up buying a half million dollars of connectivity bandwidth from the data center down the road. This situation has likely happened to you in some other type business. It seems to be a universal business problem. Listen carefully to the needs and perceived needs of the client. You can ask open ended questions, but find out specifically what the potential clients actual need is, then assess where you can be of help.