I get a lot of inquiries and solicitations asking me what my “#1 tip” for increasing business is. This, of course, is a very complex subject that requires a lot of detail. But there is one quick tip I send along that can help people in any phase of business or even their lives. And that is:
Take the second shot.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Persistence pays off.” Most people interpret this to mean that “persistence” means aggravating and annoying people to death until they buy to get rid of you. Many things, including fear, keep people from going down this road. However, there’s a nice medium ground, and that is what I call the “second shot.” The second shot means just that – it means trying twice to make good things happen.
The reason that I focus on a second shot, rather than a third or fourth, is that most salespeople are easily put off. While the public image of salespeople is that of the bulldog that never lets go, the truth is far from it; most salespeople are perfectly willing to take the first “no” rather than battle a bit for the win. That’s a shame, because a lot of business and opportunity lies beyond the first “no.” Let’s look at this in context.
The context will be the teleprospecting phone call, which as you know, I still believe is the core skill of B2B new business generation. Let’s imagine a call from a salesperson selling copiers:
Salesperson: “Hi, Mr. Prospect, this is Salesperson from Pretty Darn Awesome Copier Company. Our manufacturer has just released some new technology that can drastically reduce your per-page cost while actually increasing the quality of your paper documents. Could we meet next week, and see if there is a fit between your company’s needs and this new technology?” (NOTE – this is an imperfect call – there’s a step missing – but it’s typical of a decent teleprospecting call.)
Prospect: “Sorry, I’m not interested.” Now, about half the time that a customer says this, they’ll hang up on you. No second-shot opportunity exists on those calls. But, half the time, they’ll hang on and wait for the salesperson to say something weak like, “Uh, thanks anyway.” If you say that, you’re done. Instead, let’s take the second shot.
Salesperson: “I don’t blame you for not being interested. I’ve sold a number of these machines already, and I’ve found that the customers didn’t really have any interest until they understood what these machines could do, how they could reduce expenses and at the same time build your customer image through better documents. Would it be worth, say, 20 minutes of your time to at least know what those customers now know? If there’s a fit, I’ll tell you, and if there isn’t a fit, I’ll even tell you that. Fair enough?” Second shot taken. You’ve now given the prospect a better window into why he/she should take the appointment, and perhaps even aroused a bit of curiosity. Here’s the thing – whatever your chance is of getting the appointment on the second shot, it’s better than the zero you’d have if you bailed out at the first ‘no.’ A good rule of thumb is that whatever your ratio of contacts-to-appointments (let’s say you get 1 appointment in every 5 contacts normally), you’ll increase that 20 to 30% with a good second shot effort.
Of course, even though this sounds good, it doesn’t come for free. You have to have a game plan. You need to anticipate common objections, have responses ready, and be very focused on the conversation. That requires a lot of thought and preplanning, and it also requires a focus on generating an appointment, not a sale.
This technique doesn’t limit itself to cold calls, either. Final objections, job hunting, getting a raise, getting a date – all of these can be improved by focusing on the second shot. Just keep in mind these steps:
- Be prepared. Know the objections and the common responses.
- Create a “win” for the other party by accepting your second shot.
- Take extra shots with great care. Two makes you persistent, more can make you a pest, depending on the situation (the farther into the sales process you are, the more persistent you should be).
- Finally, remember that there are some objections that cannot, and should not, be overcome. Use good judgment, and don’t sell bad business.
Most non-salespeople reading this article would think that it’s completely unnecessary; salespeople always do this, right? Nonsense – most salespeople are easily put off, because they fear pushing farther. Don’t be that guy or gal, and you’ll be more successful.