You have nothing until you have time. You may think you have some really good product information, some very compelling data, some amazing case studies, but until you have some of your prospect’s time, you have nothing. Unless you are producing an episode of Seinfeld, having nothing is not a good thing.
That means that first and foremost, your goal in prospecting should be to get time, and that creates a whole new problem. Every successful sales interaction is going to come down to a negotiation. It can be over price, over features, over terms, large or small, but ultimately, it will come down to negotiating a win/win solution. To do that successfully, you have to maintain leverage in the negotiation. If you give up all leverage to get time, you won a battle to lose the war.
What do most sales people do to get time with their prospects? They beg. You may think you are asking, and not begging, but really, asking is just a milder, more polite form of begging. It is hard to maintain leverage when begging.
“Can you give me a few minutes of your time?”
“Would you be willing to meet with me next week?”
“If you could just give me ten minutes, I’d love to meet with you!”
Asking or begging? You say Po-Tay-To, I say Po-taa-to. Asking for an appointment to get time with a prospect means the meeting is framed up as the prospect doing you a favor, and that is a loss of leverage that is going to haunt you when you get to the negotiations stage. The prospect should want to meet with you. At the very least the meeting should be 50% their idea. That means you need to have a process that sets you up to SUGGEST a meeting, NOT ASK for one.
The power to suggest a meeting comes from one simple place. Pain. The qualified or confirmed pain of your prospect that your product or service can possibly help with. If your prospecting process helps your prospects become aware of their pain, admit it to you and agree that you can offer a possible solution, then your prospects will want to meet, or at least be open to your suggestion to meet. If you don’t systematically prospect to find and confirm pain in your prospect’s world, then you are begging for time. If you’re lucky, you’ll get time but have lost leverage. If you are not lucky, you won’t get time, and again, you have nothing until you have time.
The first goal of prospecting is to get time. Pain is what justifies a prospect giving you time.
If you can’t find pain, don’t expect them to find the time.