"The Navigator" News Blog

How to Motivate a Prospect

“Hi, Troy.  I’m blah-blah with blah-blah company.  I’d like to talk to you about your printing needs.”  It was the most typical of cold calls.  I guess I should be thankful that the person wasn’t using an auto-dialer, so I didn’t get that 5 second pause where I said, “Hello?  HELLO?”  Still – this was a bad cold call.  And most salespeople who cold call (yes, some still do, and it works if it’s done well) still do them that way.  As Tony Soprano would say, “Who gives a ****?”  I didn’t care, in the slightest, about her desire to talk to me about my printing needs.  I care about my business.

The reason that most salespeople don’t get results at cold calling is that they stink at it.  And the reason that they stink at it is that they don’t know how to motivate a prospect.  I’ve talked about the steps in the Buyer’s Journey before – and if you haven’t read that article yet, go do it now.  Seriously.  Do it.  That will make the rest of this article make sense.  I’ll wait.  OK, got it?  Good.  Now that you understand Motivation and its place in the Buyer’s Journey, let’s talk about how to motivate a prospect.

When you are making a prospecting contact to any prospect in any fashion – on the phone, in person, by social media, by email, or by carrier pigeon, your real desire is to Motivate them to enter their own personal Buyer’s Journey.

People become Motivated when they feel dissatisfaction with the status quo.  That’s when they embark on a Buyer’s Journey.  Calling someone and saying, “I want to talk about selling you my stuff” does not motivate them, unless you fall ass-backwards lucky into someone who just happens to be embarking on a Journey already.  Most of the time, however, that approach results in a “no thanks,” and a disconnection.

Doing the “I want to talk about” is LAME.  And it’s LAZY.  Salespeople do it because they aren’t interested in learning how to motivate customers – or maybe just because no one has told them that this is a lame approach.  So I’m telling you.

If you want to get an appointment – whatever the prospecting platform you choose – you must motivate your prospect by provoking dissatisfaction with the status quo.  Period.  How can you motivate a prospect?  Well, there are a few options.

  1. Paint a desirable picture of the future. In my experience, this has been the best prospecting approach.  When people buy your stuff, they win, right?  So, in ONE sentence, use your words to paint a picture of them winning with your stuff.  For example:  “Our websites deliver three times the incoming leads of the typical website used by your competitors.” The key to this approach is that you aren’t doing the typical “looking for pain;” instead, you’re saying that, no matter what they are doing right now, you can help them do it better.  They can be standing atop the mountain looking down – IF they will meet with you.  When a prospect envisions a desired future state, dissatisfaction with the status quo follows.  Most food and beverage commercials on TV work on this principle – they just show someone drinking an ice-cold Pepsi, and the prospect (you) thinks about how much better life would be if you, too, were drinking an ice-cold Pepsi.
  2. Point out how you solve a common problem. For instance, one of the industries I have worked in over the years is the rental laundry (uniforms, mats, linen, etc.) industry.  One of the biggest issues in that industry is shortages – meaning that the mechanic turns in four shirts for laundry and gets three back.  One approach for that industry would be an opening statement about how the salesperson’s company solves shortages.  Word of caution here – if you are going for this approach, you have to be very specific with your solution statement.  “We are better than our competition” or “We have the best service” isn’t a winner.  “Here is the system we use to solve this problem, and it works” is the way to go.  As my mentor, Patricia Fripp, likes to say, “Specificity brings memorability.”  And it gets you appointments.  Platitudes don’t.  In this case, you aren’t creating dissatisfaction with the status quo (as you did in the option above); you are instead highlighting an existing dissatisfaction and promising to alleviate it.
  3. “Here’s how we helped your neighbor/competitor/someone else you know.” People like to be like other people, and if you have helped someone succeed that has a commonality with your prospect, this can provoke dissatisfaction as your customer thinks, “Why are they doing better than I am?”  Yes, we’re raising the old green-eyed monster here, but this can work.  Basically, the dissatisfaction comes from thinking that someone else, of whom they are aware and share some common factor with, is achieving something that they aren’t.  A couple of notes here:  First, if you are going to name names in your story, make sure you have permission.  And second, your prospect doesn’t have to know the person you are talking about – they just have to be aware that this person exists.  Finally, you don’t have to name names – but the story has to be real.  “A steel company located near you” is fine – as long as it’s real.  Don’t lie.

Whichever approach you take, you must deliver your statement concisely and clearly. In 10-15 seconds, your prospect will make a decision about whether or not to give you an audience.  A concise, powerful Motivation Statement will be key to making that happen.  Then, ask clearly and confidently, for the appointment.  Again – this is the approach to take, no matter what platform you are using.

Most salespeople fail at prospecting because they don’t know how to motivate a prospect.  Now you do.  So if you haven’t been getting the results you think you should, take a good look at your approach and re-tool it.  As I always say, “Cold calling never works.  Unless you do it, and do it well. Then it still works pretty nicely!”