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Engaging the prospect

As sales trainers how much emphasis in your training do you place on the engaging the prospect. I ask because while I've seen much written about cold calling and closing the sale I haven't seen much written about the approach step. - by Mikey
"Prospect Engagement" is one of three dimensions in my 3D Selling model, so I put a great deal of emphasis on it in my training and development work.

It's impossible to maximize selling opportunity with a disengaged prospect, in my opinion. Engage your prospect! - by Skip Anderson
What are the other two dimensions in your 3D Selling(TM) model Skip?

Of all the steps in the sales process how much attention do you think this step typically gets? - by Mikey
The most important part is what questions you ask while on your appointment. Like many other sales trainers we call this diagnosing the issues.

The more time you spend asking good quality questions the better information you'll get to see if there really is a fit between what they need and what you're selling. If you listen well, the prospect will almost always write your presentation for you.

Books you can read on this technique are:

SPIN Selling
Solution Selling.

There are many more and more current one's, but these are the two that I recommend most often.

Greg - by gstebbins
What are the other two dimensions in your 3D Selling(TM) model Skip?

Of all the steps in the sales process how much attention do you think this step typically gets?
Mikey, to answer your question:

In my selling model, I don't treat "engagement" as a step, because I think engagement must exist at all times during a selling interaction, and during all stages of any selling process.

The three dimensions in my 3d Selling model are:

1. ENGAGE the Prospect

2. Follow a selling PROCESS (needs and wants analysis, presentation, trial close, close, etc.), and

3. Add VALUE

I agree with Greg's comments also. Well said, Greg. - by Skip Anderson
I think that most of us probably dedicate a largest 'space' in our books and courses to the subject of engaging with the customer.

In my training this is something that actually begins several steps before the cold-call (Hence I prefer to talk about warm-calling) and continues past the close of the sale.

One of the hard things is maintaining a quality engagement throughout the sale. In order to do this I recommend two things.

1. Ensuring that at each engagement you provide value to the client.

2. Ensuring that you have a clear purchasing process established with the customer. this really helps after you have submitted your initial process and need to stay in engagement rather than just wait to hear back from the client on whether you have run the customer. Without this you can run out of reasons for calling back to see how they are progressing with their purchasing decisions. - by liamv
Liam, Greg and Skip what advice do you have for salespeople who are trying to go from initial contact with a prospect to having the prospect willingly engaging in an honest and open conversation about their problems, wants or needs? - by Mikey
Liam, Greg and Skip what advice do you have for salespeople who are trying to go from initial contact with a prospect to having the prospect willingly engaging in an honest and open conversation about their problems, wants or needs?
I could, and have written several chapters on this - but some quick thoughts that may have some value and stimulate ideas.

Seeing as you have used words like "willingly, honest and open" I think you are more than half way there. The first thing you need to do is to be able to establish that YOU can offer value and be trusted.

I am referring to the value YOU offer, not the value that your product offers. (Of course the value your product offers is also important later in the sales process).

To be able to show the customer YOU can add value you need to commence doing this very early and continuously through the sales process. (Mikey, it would be valuable to know what product service you are selling and to whom to be able to offer more suggestions on how you might do this.)

There is a common saying that "people buy off people they like". This is true in many sales environments, however in B2B environments I think it is more valuable to acknowledge that “people buy off people that they trust.”

Trust = Integrity + specific environment expertise.

Your mannerisms and values will establish or destroy your integrity. It's pretty hard to fake