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Problems with qualifying prospects

Hi all,

I am having some trouble with my sales approach and would like some feedback and suggestions if possible. I currently work selling photocopiers to small and medium sized businesses in my territory and my current strategy works something like this;

1. Door knock business, speak to receptionist or someone at front desk, get information about their current copier(s), i.e. brand, age, lease or own, DM’s name etc
2. Send letter to the DM with fun scratch-it promo theme and basic spiel about our service
3. “Warm” call DM a few days later to try to get an appointment

We’re taught to be really successful in this role we need to follow the 10/10/10 rule, which is 10 door knocks or cold calls for gathering intelligence, 10 emails or letters to the DM and 10 warm calls to try to set an appointment.

This seems fine, however the trouble I am having is receptionists and front desk people generally don’t know the full details of their copier situation. They usually have only very basic information such as the brand and approximate age, but usually don’t know how long they have remaining on contract (important we know this). This makes qualifying the prospect difficult and this makes me hesitant to send a letter without knowing if they’re even able to reconsider their copier situation and look at alternatives. This has happened a few times where I’ve gone out to meet the prospect only to discover they’ve got 3 or 4 years to go!

I suppose I can always phone to speak to the DM to qualify them or not, but so far all my encounters with the DM have been at the appointment setting stage. It seems awkward to try to qualify the prospect AND set an appointment in the same call, yet the alternative, to qualify, hang up, send them a letter and call them again seems worse.

How do you think I should handle this situation? I suppose I can just make do with the information I get from front desk, treat the prospect as qualified whether they are or not and this will enable me to hit my 10 per day quota, the flip side being more wasted time sending letters and making phone calls to people who can’t do business. Or I can spend more time properly qualifying all my prospective customers by speaking directly to the DM however risk losing them at this stage.

Or is there a better way of doing this? Any advice appreciated.

Thanks - by sales_ace
Personally, I would put more focus on the DM. Askign a gatekeeper who is clueless does not seem like a sufficient use of your time. - by salesfist
This isn't my area of speciality so you'll have to put it into context, however; instead think about;

* How would I like to buy this product?

Spend some time plotting out how a day in the life of your customers might look. How might they purchase their equipment? Who makes the decisions? Why would they choose to do it this way? When would the best time to speak to someone? How would I like to be contacted?

So I guess my advice is to think about your customer rather then how can I flog my product. - by MrCharisma
Personally, I would put more focus on the DM. Askign a gatekeeper who is clueless does not seem like a sufficient use of your time.
The people in an organization who are unfortunately and misleadingly called "gatekeepers" are quite often the second most influential people in that organization. They are rarely clueless. - by Gary A Boye
This isn't my area of speciality so you'll have to put it into context, however; instead think about;

* How would I like to buy this product?

Spend some time plotting out how a day in the life of your customers might look. How might they purchase their equipment? Who makes the decisions? Why would they choose to do it this way? When would the best time to speak to someone? How would I like to be contacted?

So I guess my advice is to think about your customer rather then how can I flog my product.
:cu

You're right it's not your area of specialty. - by sales_ace
Personally I'd try a more of an analysis approach, something like...

I'm from _______ copier company and we're having a lot of success with saving people money with their copying. what we do is analise your use and offer some ideas on saving money...once we've done that you can...
  1. implement our solution
  2. change the way you use your current machine to save money
  3. do nothing until your current lease is up
Your time spent with me will be valuable no matter what you decide Mr Prospect.

By offering analysis you'll be able to
  1. get in the door easier
  2. build rapport easier
  3. add value to the prospect even if they don't buy now
  4. qualify the situation properly
  5. get a sale
  6. get a prospect for the future
Happy Selling, Tony - by Tony Dunne
Gary is right on target. The Gatekeeper's job is to help people and protect the DM's valuable time. Use disarming honesty with gatekeeper. Let her know that you would like to help DM, but am not sure if you can. When she asks why, tell her what you need (all of the info you mentioned about their current copier) and if there is a fit, could you speak with the DM, if not you won't be wasting his time. - by triadtraining
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