There is no doubt that we are in a very challenging sales environment and will remain there for some time to come. Clients are not likely to accept a face-to-face encounter, although we should be testing the water to see if coffee, golf or even lunch might be acceptable. Also, many clients are working from home which makes “change” that much more challenging. A common phrase we will hear from prospects when presenting our case for acceptance is “let me take your information and get back to you”. By agreeing to this request, we are ceding control. And when we cede control, any momentum we might have built is lost. So what can we do?
The first step is to make sure our message is one that offers something of value. Letting a client know that we have been in business for “X” years, or that we have the “best” whatever, or even that we work with the top local companies may sound exciting to us but offers nothing of value to the recipient. Our message needs to provide the prospect with a reason to continue the conversation. Suggesting that we would like to discuss some “interesting (or disturbing) trends” or offer an “executive briefing on the current state of the market” puts us in the role of having knowledge that one might want to know. Once we do that, we need to seize control and achieve our objective of getting together (in person or on a zoom call) to further explore how we might improve their situation.
We can continue the conversation with a suggestion -- saying something along the lines of, “May I make a suggestion?” and then ask our prospect, “Rather than have you in a situation where you may not be able to answer questions that come up from your peers, why don’t we conduct a call with all parties? You can present the concept/material, and I will be on the line in the event a challenging question is brought up.” Not only does this keep us in some level of control but also exposes us to other influencers or decision makers.
As subject matter experts on hiring, we need to lead, not follow. There is certainly enough evidence to prove that we are complicit in our own failure to expand our market share when we allow clients to maintain control.
Sales & Recruiting Management Program Director