Know thy prospects

Understanding them is key to making sales

Tired of hearing one “no” after another on every sales call you make? Do you feel intimidated or anxious when making your presentation to potential clients? If so, it could be because you haven’t gotten a handle on who you’re selling to.

“People get so caught up in who they are and what they’re selling,” says Ilise Benun, director of Creative Marketing & Management, a Hoboken, New Jersey-based consulting firm and publisher of The Art of Self-Promotion, a sales newsletter published quarterly. “Clients want to be able to see themselves and the solutions to their problems in you. So understanding who they are becomes increasingly crucial.”

The fundamental element of selling lies not in the product, but in the prospect. Benun offers helpful hints that take the mystery out of decoding your prospects’ desires:

  • Your prospects need you. Banish the thought that your prospect has no need for your product or that they are already being serviced by someone else. Whether this is actually the case or not, approaching your prospect with a positive frame of mind makes for a better, more effective presentation.
  • Your prospects want to look good. At the end of the day, this is all your prospect really wants. To the extent that your service can help them reach that goal, you can be assured that more sales and referrals will come your way.
  • Your prospects are… well…lazy. That is to say, you want to make it as easy as possible for you to be at your clients’ service. The fewer hurdles they have to jump, the more likely they are to follow through-which translates into more business for you.
  • Your prospects have a lot going on. When was the last time you had an interruption-free day? Exactly. So don’t forget that your prospects’ days aren’t much different. The next time you get frustrated when a potential client doesn’t return your phone call or e-mail right away, stop and think about just how busy they are.
  • Remember that your prospects are people too. In order to get a company’s business, you’ll have to deal with the human beings who work there. Operate in the spirit of kindness, courtesy and respect, and you will always be one step ahead of the game. Good relationships can mean all the difference to your success.
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