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    Prospecting Q&A: Gatekeepers, Offers, Research
    By Jacques Werth, President High Probability® Selling

    Q. When making a prospecting calls, the prospect often 'isn't in'. When should I call next? Won't the gatekeeper get irritated if I keep calling?

    A. Here's how we handle this common, and frustrating, situation in HPS:

    Joe Prospect, please.

    "Who's calling?"

    This is Miles Sonkin with High Probability Selling.

    "Is Mr. Prospect expecting your call?"

    No he isn't. Are you Mr. Prospect's gatekeeper?

    "Well ... yes."

    I am calling Mr. Prospect to make a twenty secopnd offer. Is it okay if I make the offer to you right now and you can deter- mine if you are willing to put me through, or not?

    "Sure."

    [Give Offer] ... Is this something Mr. Prospect would want?

    At large companies, the gatekeeper typically knows Mr. Prospect's business as well as he does, and can answer the question with a "Yes," "Probably" or "No" answer. When you get a "Yes" or "Probably," they'll do one of the following:

    1. Put you through to Mr. Prospect, if he's available

    2. Specifically ask you to leave the message on Mr. Prospect's voicemail. (When this happens, leave the message, but start it with: "This is Miles Sonkin with High Probability Selling. I just spoke with Prospect Jr., your assistant, and after I told her why I was calling, she specifically asked me to leave you a voicemail message, because she thought it was something you might want." Then give your offer and leave your phone number.

    3. Take as much time as needed to write your message down and commit to reading it to Mr. Prospect.

    If the gatekeepr is not willing to put me through, I say, "OK, Goodbye".

    This type of conversation rarely happens because other aspects of the HPS prospecting method makes this type of conversation rarely necessary. There are a number of factors, such as calling with a new offer every 3-4 weeks, that make gatekeeper blocks an increasing rarity for the HPS prospector.

    °°°°°°°°°

    Q. Is it OK to say, "WOULD YOU LIKE to buy this?" or "Is this something you WOULD LIKE to have?" Are there alternatives to, "Is this something you want?"

    A. Most people feel they have made a *commitment* when they say they "want" something.

    In most prospects' minds, the inclusion of the word "would" relieves them from any commitment. It's almost as weak as including the word "interested."

    °°°°°°°°°

    Q. Would a bit of research on the prospect BEFORE making the call help to aim you in the right direction? For example, going to the company's website, looking at their annual report (if a public company), etc.

    A. Researching each prospect before you call them is generally a waste of time- if you have done your target marketing well.

    You should be working from a prospecting list that has been selected based on the demographics of companies that are most likely to use your product/service. It should have the names and phone numbers of the people with the job titles most likely to buy your type of product/service.

    Your "research" time is usually better spent on actually making offers. None of this "research" answers the fundamental question, which is:

    Does the prospect want what I am offering now, and is he willing to pay for it?

    Making prospecting offers will usually lead you to appropriate buying influences within an organization.

    I have observed that a lot of "research" done by salespeople is a means of avoiding prospecting. This is mostly because the prospecting methods they use (unlike HPS) are too unpleasant and emotionally draining to use extensively. "Researching" is more fun and seems like productive work.

    Research often finds lots of interested prospects who magically lose their interest when you ask them if what you are offering is something they WANT.


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