Make your prospects sell themselves to you

The Sales Confidence Skills Series is a range of articles based on insights from the 2nd Sales Confidence live event we staged in November 2017. 150 SaaS enthusiasts gathered to hear 4 of the most relevant sales leaders in London tell us their secrets. However, even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you.

Tom Castley

Our 3rd speaker was Tom Castley. Tom is Regional VP for Account Management EMEA at Apptio, currently major disruptors in the enterprise software market. He’s also led sales at Xactly Corp and Oracle. Tom has never been shy about expressing his opinions of what works and doesn’t work in business. That’s why we love hearing him speak at our events. Tom’s title was ‘7 things I’ve learned in sales.’ Our first article based on Tom’s talk, covered why startup salespeople are different.

Later in his talk, Tom shared with us ways that salespeople can act to create exclusivity around themselves and their product. He talked firstly about qualification. This is something I’m a big fan of, and write about regularly. I’m not keen on ‘happy ears’. Time is precious and you can’t waste it with people who aren’t going to buy from you. Tom takes it to the next level, however.

‘I remember going to one of my sales managers, who was brutal, boasting about the fact that I had double the close rate of everybody else. It was 20%, rather than 10%, from sales qualified leads. He said, ‘That’s great. There are 200 selling days in a year. What you’re telling me is, 40 of those you’re working for me, and 160 of those you’re lining our competitors’ pockets. Come back when the majority of the time, you’re earning money for me!’

Yeah. That’s brutal alright!

Disqualify, not qualify

Tom’s advice is to always be asking why you shouldn’t be spending your time with a prospect. Don’t just wait until the prospect has been in your pipeline for a while and you’re wondering if they’re ever going to buy.

When you’re talking to your prospects, it’s fine to take risks to gauge their interest. While it may be counterintuitive, putting up a barrier between your prospect and your product can be successful. For example, you could subtly infer that your prospect isn’t big enough to get the best out of your product. This creates desirability, making them see your product as a status symbol.

You may get it wrong sometimes, but keep doing it and you’ll find out what works for you. As Tom puts it, ‘Half the time, if you’re doing it properly, you can get the prospect to sell to you why you should spend some time with them.’

Be exclusively unavailable

On a similar subject, another of Tom’s tips was to be hard to access, and set times to see your prospects that are convenient for you, not them.

‘When I’m selling new business, I never take a meeting within 2 weeks, and I only ever meet between the hours of 10 and 3.’

‘Think about the psychology of that. I’m exclusive. I’m busy. I’m unavailable. I can’t see you for 2 weeks. If someone’s willing to wait that long, chances are they’re interested in what you’ve got.’

I love this idea. Prospects are so used to salespeople falling over themselves to get time with them, this approach shows you have pride in yourself and your product. It’s also a totally effective way of gaining interest.

Plus, you’ll find it a lot easier to get a meeting room!

Pure Sales Confidence

Sales Confidence is all about bold ideas like Tom’s. Sure, they go against all your instincts and the innate human desire to be liked, but they are supremely effective sales techniques. If you can create a mystique around yourself as well as your product, you can win.

Over to you now. What maverick, counterintuitive sales techniques have worked for you? Leave us a comment to let us know.

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