Consultative Selling:
   The Approach

   DETERMINING WHO TO CALL ON AND INITIATING AN APPROACH are the most difficult parts of the sales process for most salespeople, no matter what industry they�re in.
   How often do we hide behind our desks doing unproductive work because we don�t have a targeted list of prospects and a comfortable system for approaching them? Once we have an interested prospect, we generally can proceed with confidence.
   Call reluctance usually rises or falls in intensity depending on our current circumstances and recent results. But remember this: Salespeople are paid more for their time than other professionals because salespeople do what others are not comfortable doing. We can say that we are in the rejection business because so many of our approaches have that result.
   Our major problem, then, is not the economy or our product line. It is our own self-esteem and work organization.
   Call reluctance thresholds are related directly to our self-esteem levels. A person with a healthy sense of self worth is more willing to accept criticism, rejection, or even failure when pursuing a business relationship. While no one enjoys rejection, individuals with high self-esteem are able to overcome it and then move on to other opportunities.
   High achievers count only their wins and ignore their losses. Outstanding success results most often after high levels of initial failure. A key success factor is priority management and highest and best use of time.

What to Avoid

   Too often salespeople make frequent sales calls in an effort to simply be visible, hoping to get an order by being �in the right place at the right time.� Being product pushers, such salespeople tend to �show up and throw up.�
   When meeting with a prospect, they do an �information dump� of product features. Is it any wonder that some prospects place

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doberman pinschers at their front door when they see salespeople driving up?
   But this obsolete sales method perpetuates itself since some success can be found when using it. Yet it also is a prime cause of burnout, which occurs when we don�t establish career-building consultative relationships.
   If we aren�t constantly developing new referral relationships and adding value to old ones, we will be forced to keep prospecting like a rookie.
   A second career trap occurs once we�ve achieved an initial level of success. At times successful sales reps slack off on new business development and �live off their own fat.� But when we fail to upgrade our clientele continuously, we risk a falloff of income if any of our clients quit using us.
   Becoming a professional salesperson isn�t that difficult. Experience shows that there are techniques which can allow us to earn more while actually working less. We then tend to be excited about making sales calls, and ultimately enjoy our career more than we previously had.
   Here are the business development areas we will focus on in this issue of Transaction World Magazine:

  • Target Market Definition
  • Approach Campaign
  • Computer Assistance

Additionally, we start with several assumptions:

  1. We want to do business with highly-productive and well-qualified sources.
  2. We want to get most of our business from fewer sources.
  3. By constantly upgrading the quality of our sources, we will earn more with less effort.
  4. We need to create a positive environment in which prospects are receptive to our approach.
  5. We should invest in a computer and software to help us organize our marketing efforts and relationship maintenance.
Step I

   Regardless of our current success level or the amount of time we�ve been in the business, we should create a list of prospects we want to do business with.
   In some industries, sales reps can work from a prospect list with as few as ten names, while others require hundreds. A more seasoned sales professional typically needs fewer targets, since a clientele has already been established.
   Key to effective targeting is working from a written list. Preselecting prospects because of their reputation, social style and need for our product or service is the foundation of our growing career.
   Too often salespeople make calls in a territory and then work with whomever will give them an order. Using this shotgun approach causes call reluctance and often is disappointing.