Sideline sportscasters are not unlike sales people. Their job is to ferret out the top athletes (key decision makers) or coaches (C-Level execs) and ask them a question or two to get their insights.
Unfortunately, like many sales people, sideline sportscasters typically blow the opportunity by being unprepared. Here are a couple of examples of some insipid questions asked recently while I watched NCAA football. In both cases, the sportscaster collared a big name player or coach and in front of millions of viewers, these were the questions asked:
“Charlie, this is the fifth game Notre Dame has lost this year. Tell us: are you disappointed?
“Tim, how excited are you about playing in the SEC championship game against Alabama this year?
How sad! That’s the best the sideline announcer could come up with? Charlie and Tim rolled their eyes. Because these questions were trite, the quality of information provided was equally as trite. No one benefited. It was a complete and utter waste of time for the viewing audience, the player/coach and the sport announcer.
Top executives, C-levels, and owners are no different from athletic celebrities. They are hard to reach and their time is valuable. As a tele-prospector, you need to make the most of the moment. You cannot ask lame questions if you expect to get further into the sale.
Here are four ways to prevent “Sportscasteritis” with C-Level Excutives
1. Never ask a Question that Your Client Can’t Answer
Nothing stops a sale faster than asking a question that your prospect cannot answer. Top decision makers do not want to be placed on the spot. It’s embarrassing.
For example, if you’re talking with the CFO of a large company and you ask about an obscure piece of ledger software, chances are he’ll be stumped because he does not deal with that issue. Some underling handles it. All you have succeeded in doing is pointing out something the C-Level doesn’t know which does not endear you to her or him.
2. Prepare a single question that is pertinent to that prospect and his position
You can actually prepare more than one question but you need a single question that is the best of the best. It’s a question that will be most significant to you and your sales objective, and of course, it is a question that the executive can answer.
You ask this question first in case you don’t get any further. The higher you go up the executive food chain, strategic that question will be. The lower you go, operational it will be.
3. Don’t waste their time.
When you get through to the C-Level, tell him you have only one question. This is a brilliant tactic because they will usually let you proceed and ask it because the time and effort seems minimal. Additionally, they tend to listen more closely to what you have to say because they know it will not take long. If your question is good enough, they open up and usually let you continue further.
For example, suppose you are in capital leasing and you get through to the superstar CFO. Here is what you might ask,
“________, I know you are busy and I have one quick question: Are you planning any capital expenditures this year?”
The CFO will know the answer to this question. It is pertinent to his position. It is pertinent to your selling. It’s a good question.
4. Have your advance ready to go
Know precisely what you want from the call. Chances are it’s an appointment or a referral to an underling or maybe attendance at a webinar; objectives like that. Be prepared to quickly shift to your offer or request. These executives are shakers and movers. They are used to getting to the point and expect others to do so.
In the above example, you might cut to the quick and say,
“We’re a capital leasing company that specializes in _________ and we’ve worked with ____. Mr.________, Can you give me the name of the person who I should be speaking to regarding this project.”
This statement gives the CFO a quick overview of your company and what you do. He doesn’t need or want a lecture. You get directly to the point. If he wants to debate with you, he will.
Follow these four tips and be prepared when you encounter a superstar executive. Make the most of the moment. See you on the sideline!