Tag Archives: Lead generation

Turning conversations into sales

I had yet another telesales call this week that reminded me why some of the basic sales training I undertook in my early days is still valid today. It went something like this…

  • Telesales guy : Can I speak to the business owner?
  • Me: Yes, that’s me.
  • Telesales guy: Oh good. Do you have an epos machine?
  • Me: No
  • Telesales guy: Would you like to have an epos machine if the monthly charges were lower?
  • Me: No
  • Telesales guy: Oh. Wouldn’t it help your business to have an epos machine?
  • Me: No
  • Telesales guy: Oh. OK. Bye then.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you won’t get very far by asking a series of closed questions, yet we all fall into the trap from time to time. I watched an experienced newsreader just last night trying to interview an eight year old boy using closed questions. It was painful. The boy, who was clearly dying to tell his story, was prevented from doing so by the interviewers ineptitude.

Closed questions do have their place of course, and they are great for:

  • Gaining factual information, as in: Am I speaking to the business owner?
  • Clarifying that you have understood a situation, as in:  So am I right in thinking that you don’t currently have a marketing plan?
  • Getting a desired positive answer, as in: Would you like to generate more business?
  • Seeking to close a deal or teasing out an objection, as in: Would you sign today if I were able to deliver next Tuesday?

If ultimately you are trying to sell something, you will need to use a mix of open and closed questions to really develop the conversation. The good news is that most of us do this naturally in a social situation, which is perhaps why people who are genuinely interested in others often make good sales people. With a little self awareness and preparation you can hone the questioning techniques that you are probably already using and start to turn your conversations into natural sales opportunities.

Should you be networking more?

Networking  is often quoted as the number one lead generation mechanism for small businesses and frequently appears in lists of, so-called, free marketing activity. So, should you be doing more of it?

 I went to a very well attended event a couple of weeks ago and, as I walked into the room of some 200 people, I soon realised I had very little chance of tracking down those people I had hoped to meet. I was approached by someone wielding an A3 presenter who, without asking me a single question, tried to sell me something I had no need of. I squeezed round the exhibition space apologising for bumping over-sized handbags with similarly stressed looking individuals; to be greeted by stall holders intent on making snap decision about whether I would be of any use to them!

Hadn’t they read the books? Networking is about building relationships, it involves asking questions and finding mutual ground; it’s not about selling.  It’s not free either, it takes time and effort before, during and after the actual event and we all know that time is  money.

Networking is like any other marketing activity; it has its own protocol, a set of rules by which a good  networker operates. It is undoubtedly a brilliant tool for business generation when used properly and with the planning and discipline you would afford any other marketing activity.

There are lots of books, articles and blogs about networking. Do yourself a favour and try reading one like FT Guide to Business Networking before embarking on your next campaign.