Everybody is aware that the more you know about your prospects, the higher is your chance at a sale. However, many make the mistake of thinking that just having info on your prospects is enough.
During my years in sales and business development, one of the most crucial lessons I’ve learned is that unless you act on what you know, your knowledge is worth exactly zero.
You can know where your prospect eats dinner, but unless you go there and run into them, your knowledge is worthless.
You can know all of your prospect’s secret fears, but unless you use those fears to press the sale, your knowledge is worthless.
Here’s a step-by-step process I’ve developed over the years that has helped me close hundreds of sales.
Step 1: Do Your Research With the End Result in Mind
Research can take a lot of time, among other resources (social capital, goodwill, money, etc.)
Whenever you’re gathering intel on someone you’re looking to close, always think how it might help you to close the prospect.
You could know your prospect’s shoe size. You could know whether they like scrambled eggs in the morning or not. But will this info help you close the sale? Most importantly, is it worth the investment for you to get that info in the first place?
You might be thinking – but what if that piece of info will help me in the most unexpected way? What if I’ll use it in a way that I can’t think of right now?
Well, the rule of thumb I use is this: if you can’t see yourself using a particular piece of information to close a prospect, you probably won’t.
So focus on what you know can work, and leave everything else aside.
Step 2: Categorize Your Knowledge By Sensitivity and Importance
There are only so many things you can remember about a single prospect, and there are only so many ways you using that information could go wrong.
Start with sorting all info you have on your prospect by importance.
Here’s a general outline of categories you could have to rank your knowledge (from most important to least):
- Desires (more money, sleep with a model, build a beach house in Bali)
- Fears (high risk, opinion of others)
- Views (on money, work, relationships, lifestyle)
- Facts (financial status, job title, habits)
Then, rank your knowledge by how sensitive this info is to your prospect. Your final list could look something like this:
- Highly intimate (most secret fears and desires, controversial views, lesser-known facts)
- Moderately intimate (predictable fears and desires, known views and facts)
- Not sensitive (widely spread information available to anyone)
Step #3: Adjust How You Use Your Info Accordingly
The most important part in this part is putting it all together. This is where most salesmen fail and lose their prospects forever.
There are two rules of thumb, one tied to sensitivity of your info and the other to the importance of your info:
- The more important the piece of knowledge you have on your prospect, the biggest role it should play in your closing strategy. For example, if the intel isn’t that important – say, you know that your prospect likes wakeboarding – you probably won’t be able to leverage that intel to a deep level and simply keep this info in the back of your head to bring it up in a conversation. However, if you know that someone is secretly looking to break their partnership agreement and is looking for a new business deal, you should adjust all aspects of your sales process to use that knowledge in the most effective way.
- The more sensitive a piece of knowledge you have on your prospect, the less directly you should use it. For example, you can use widely known, insensitive information by directly implementing it into conversation. However, if the piece of information is highly sensitive, you’ll want to lead the whole conversation up to the point where your prospect themselves start discussing the subject.