You can’t win them all—especially when prospecting. Not everyone you call on will need or want your product or service. Some will need it, but not now. Others won’t know they need it. So, you are likely to have more unsuccessful calls—ending with turn-downs and put-offs—than successful ones. But, you can learn something from the unsuccessful calls that will contribute to a win down the road.
If for example, you are receiving the same put-offs time and again (especially the preprogrammed responses prospects use to fend off salespeople), you can prepare for them— develop your own preemptive strike.
Suppose you sold employee benefits packages. Rather than start the conversation with a business owner with a request to review the current program or statements about the advantages your company can provide, both of which invariably lead to a put-off, you might try the following:
“If you are like most business owners, as soon as I mention employee benefits programs, you’re going to tell me, ‘We’re already working with someone’ or ‘We’recovered.’ Would you be willing to put those on the shelf for two minutes while I explain why I called; then, you can decide if there is a reason to talk further?”
By bringing up the put-off first, you diminish its impact and let the prospect know that it isn’t going to work with you—you’re not afraid of it. And, the approach distinguishes you from all the other salespeople who found themselves trying to “overcome” the put-off.
Commit to learning a lesson on every call and applying it to subsequent calls. They don’t have to be earth-shattering lessons. Just something you could do more effectively… or something you should avoid doing. The lessons learned (even from those “unsuccessful” calls), compound over time and lead you to big rewards.