Am I doomed before I even start?

21 replies
So here is the deal... I hear a LOT of people say that they are getting turned down by potential clients... They always say the same thing... and then people offer a bunch of advice based on opinion....

Take what you can from this... and leave the rest...

The Probing Phase of the Offline Marketing Sales Process


Keep in mind that when your selling to someone who is familiar with internet marketing and has shopped around, the probing phase of the sales process will be a whole lot shorter because he is going to ask educated questions which means you may want to transition to the next step.

If you know anything about internet marketing you will recognize these educated questions right off the bat. But be careful, some potential clients just like to sound educated so you will not try and take advantage of them. Either way you will just have to use your judgement…


Before you start selling you need to ask questions of your prospect.

Start off with questions that will get them to talk about their business and have them tell you exactly how to sell them, you will be able to include the potential clients needs. This will help you understand the potential client’s true needs.

The stated context of probing or needs analysis has always been the same. It's...

“I need to know a little more about your business and what your needs are so that I do not waste your time with products or service that you are not a good fit.”

The underlying motive or what you are really thinking and not expressing is that you need to keep control of the sales process at this point. Keeping control of the sales process or pacing the conversation is not talked about that much, but very important.

The reason you really need to keep the pace and control is because at this point, you and your client have totally different agendas.

They want to know how much and how long does it take because they feel that is what is important. Chances are if you let people evaluate your product or service on their terms you will get nowhere. In a lot of cases they want to know “how much” so they can dismiss you.

When potential clients start to ask “bottom line” questions, many offline marketers make the mistake of counter acting the question with features and benefits of their products or services. You may get lucky every once in a while, but this is not very effective.

Really, the best way to keep control is to be the one that is asking the questions and not be the one answering them.

“How much does this cost?” asks the potential client. or…
“Well… I can’t evaluate this right now, I don’t have time.”

These are tests, they are testing to see if you are a push over, and you will pass if you say this. ”I don’t know yet let me just ask you few more questions and I will know what the best product or service is for you.”

Or…

“I promise not to waste your time _____ , just let me ask you a few questions about your company so I can give you a product and service that is going to meet your needs. One that you are going to be happy with so you and I will be doing business for a really long time.”

The underlying context, though not stated, is you maintaining control of the process. During this portion of the process it is imperative you maintain control. Though there are times you can let it go back and forth so the client doesn’t feel like he is being manipulated or “sold”. We will touch more on that later.

During this phase is where a lot of new to sales offline marketing professionals lose the client. Then they go onto forums and whine because they couldn’t close right. When in reality it wasn’t the close that they didn’t do right. It was they lost control at this step.

This is the number one reason why people will not take you seriously. So now that you are reading this. Your sales conversions as an offline marketer will hugely increase and you will stop losing money.

Then I always transition to the next phase...

“Now that I know a lot about your business, I know that we have a product and service that really makes sense for you, it’s going to lower your advertising expense, and it’s going to bring you a flood of new customers/clients at the same time. But, before I get to that, what process does your company use to make purchases?”

The above is a sample… and not a standard form answer. So please use your own for the size company you are dealing with.

And in my last statement, or soft set... you see how I am qualifying to know if I am going to walk out with a check right now? I love this business.

There is so much money to be made it is unreal... what I do know is that if I don't do this FOUNDATION step in the sales process. I generally don't close the deal and then I get mad... and you see me saying I am going to go push adsense for $30 per month.

Oh... That's right... You have never heard me say that have you?
#doomed #start
  • Profile picture of the author criniit
    Great post! I completely agree. Another thing about asking questions is that you want them to be leading questions. Questions that when they answer they are always saying yes, yes that would be great, yes that will benefit my business. It gets them in the right frame of mind for them to buy.

    Also dont just ask them yes or no questions. Take sms marketing for example. When I am talking about different ways for their customers to optin I will give them an example and then ask them if they think that people would opt in for it. I ask them if they were the customer would they opt in? What kind of offer would they have to see to get them to opt in? Then you have them thinking like they are already using your service, and they are coming up with their own opt ins. At this point you got them.

    Offline selling is an art form its like a verbal fencing match that takes some skill and training to really get a hold of.
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    • Profile picture of the author Amir Luis
      Originally Posted by criniit View Post

      Great post! I completely agree. Another thing about asking questions is that you want them to be leading questions. Questions that when they answer they are always saying yes, yes that would be great, yes that will benefit my business. It gets them in the right frame of mind for them to buy.

      Also dont just ask them yes or no questions. Take sms marketing for example. When I am talking about different ways for their customers to optin I will give them an example and then ask them if they think that people would opt in for it. I ask them if they were the customer would they opt in? What kind of offer would they have to see to get them to opt in? Then you have them thinking like they are already using your service, and they are coming up with their own opt ins. At this point you got them.

      Offline selling is an art form its like a verbal fencing match that takes some skill and training to really get a hold of.

      Agreed....

      Your questions are awesome... I really like the way you mentally lead them to create the mental picture of using your service without actually saying it.

      You.. My friend... Are a Jedi....
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      • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
        Yes Amir

        Many moons ago when I had my very first sales job I was told that:

        A Boxers job is basically to Hit and to Avoid being hit and a sales job was to:

        Find the problem and Solve the problem.

        It is a complete waste of time doing the latter if you have not done the former.

        Dan
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        • Profile picture of the author Amir Luis
          Originally Posted by jimbo13 View Post

          Yes Amir

          Many moons ago when I had my very first sales job I was told that:

          A Boxers job is basically to Hit and to Avoid being hit and a sales job was to:

          Find the problem and Solve the problem.

          It is a complete waste of time doing the latter if you have not done the former.

          Dan
          Absolutely agreed! It is this kind of Basic Sales Technique that a lot of us run into when starting the offline marketing game.

          Those that started with some sales training. Will make it... and make it fast...

          Those that did not... will struggle until they figure out they are better at sales than they think they are....
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      • Profile picture of the author criniit
        Originally Posted by Amir Luis View Post

        Agreed....

        Your questions are awesome... I really like the way you mentally lead them to create the mental picture of using your service without actually saying it.

        You.. My friend... Are a Jedi....
        Haha *waves hand* You will buy my products
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDayle
    Where I've been, you shouldn't even walk in the door if you haven't already researched their business to know the basic answers to most of the questions you've posed above. What you should be doing is telling the offline business owner that you already understand their business and need more details about their particular situation so you can better serve them. Otherwise it just sounds like you are fishing for the easy stuff. Let's look at it from the perspective of the business owner:

    Let's say I'm a local business owner, and making money, but as any business owner, I'm open to expanding my business if the situation is right. At the very least, I'm willing to run overtime hours if I can't accomodate additional traffic with my current staff and location. However, like many businesses, I may have some slow times that can use additional customers, and am willing to hear your proposal.

    If you were to walk into my storefront cold and start asking questions about what my business does or needs, my first question would be how you got an appointment in the first place. What I need as a business is someone that can help me and can show me what they can do for me, not waste my time trying to figure out how they fit with my business.
    I'm Interested in at least a few things before I'm going to give you a check, particularly if you expect a check before you provide me something that looks like will be helping my business.
    --- What are you going to do for me?
    --- What have you already done for other businesses I would recognize or trust? Where/What are your "bona fides?" Are you already working for my competition? If you are, why would I think you can increase my business too?
    --- What are the deliverables? Do you have a standard contract or business agreement that details what you are providing, and what it costs me?
    --- Do you have a schedule in mind? When can I expect to see results? And just what result can I expect from your services?
    --- Doing business on a handshake or verbal agreement is fine if we can understand each other, but the number of fly-by-night, here-today-gone-tomorrow scam artists out there seems to be increasing. You really have to make me feel comfortable, and to do that you are going to need to talk to me about my business needs in a manner that makes me feel you really understand my situation and what I need, and explain it to me in a way that I can believe you are going to actually help me, not just collect a check from me.

    As you can see, there are a lot of questions flowing through the businessperson's mind, not the least of which is whether you are who/what you are representiing. He has a business to run, and may even be offended that you are suggesting you can help him. (Trust me, I've seen it in action. I've seen new salespeople almost physically thrown out of the building because they said something that offended the business owner.)

    You may understand the online world, but if you don't understand the physical world the business owner works within, or cannot communicate properly with him/her, you are at a decided disadvantage. Understanding something about the business before you walk in is a big factor in successful sales. If you don't already have a background in the particular businesses you are thinking of targeting, it may be a good idea to do some up-front, detailed research before you commit to a face-to-face. Once you create a poor impression with a business owner, you are in a much worse situation than having never contacted them in the first place. It takes an incredible amount of effort to repair a poor first impression, so much so it is probably worth just looking elsewhere.
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    • Profile picture of the author Amir Luis
      Originally Posted by RickDayle View Post

      Where I've been, you shouldn't even walk in the door if you haven't already researched their business to know the basic answers to most of the questions you've posed above. What you should be doing is telling the offline business owner that you already understand their business and need more details about their particular situation so you can better serve them. Otherwise it just sounds like you are fishing for the easy stuff. Let's look at it from the perspective of the business owner:

      Let's say I'm a local business owner, and making money, but as any business owner, I'm open to expanding my business if the situation is right. At the very least, I'm willing to run overtime hours if I can't accomodate additional traffic with my current staff and location. However, like many businesses, I may have some slow times that can use additional customers, and am willing to hear your proposal.

      If you were to walk into my storefront cold and start asking questions about what my business does or needs, my first question would be how you got an appointment in the first place. What I need as a business is someone that can help me and can show me what they can do for me, not waste my time trying to figure out how they fit with my business.
      I'm Interested in at least a few things before I'm going to give you a check, particularly if you expect a check before you provide me something that looks like will be helping my business.
      --- What are you going to do for me?
      --- What have you already done for other businesses I would recognize or trust? Where/What are your "bona fides?" Are you already working for my competition? If you are, why would I think you can increase my business too?
      --- What are the deliverables? Do you have a standard contract or business agreement that details what you are providing, and what it costs me?
      --- Do you have a schedule in mind? When can I expect to see results? And just what result can I expect from your services?
      --- Doing business on a handshake or verbal agreement is fine if we can understand each other, but the number of fly-by-night, here-today-gone-tomorrow scam artists out there seems to be increasing. You really have to make me feel comfortable, and to do that you are going to need to talk to me about my business needs in a manner that makes me feel you really understand my situation and what I need, and explain it to me in a way that I can believe you are going to actually help me, not just collect a check from me.

      As you can see, there are a lot of questions flowing through the businessperson's mind, not the least of which is whether you are who/what you are representiing. He has a business to run, and may even be offended that you are suggesting you can help him. (Trust me, I've seen it in action. I've seen new salespeople almost physically thrown out of the building because they said something that offended the business owner.)

      You may understand the online world, but if you don't understand the physical world the business owner works within, or cannot communicate properly with him/her, you are at a decided disadvantage. Understanding something about the business before you walk in is a big factor in successful sales. If you don't already have a background in the particular businesses you are thinking of targeting, it may be a good idea to do some up-front, detailed research before you commit to a face-to-face. Once you create a poor impression with a business owner, you are in a much worse situation than having never contacted them in the first place. It takes an incredible amount of effort to repair a poor first impression, so much so it is probably worth just looking elsewhere.
      Awesome Post... Thank you....
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    • Profile picture of the author Tim Dini
      Originally Posted by RickDayle View Post

      Where I've been, you shouldn't even walk in the door if you haven't already researched their business to know the basic answers to most of the questions you've posed above...
      Rick, this is great advice. I am often too busy running my business to spend time teaching a sales person what it is I need.

      I much prefer when the cold call starts with, "I'm here to fix your problem" as opposed to "What is your problem?"

      The former suggests that they know something, while the later tells me they don't know something.

      Maybe that's not the right way to look at it but it's what happens to me.
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      • Profile picture of the author Amir Luis
        Originally Posted by Tim Dini View Post

        Rick, this is great advice. I am often too busy running my business to spend time teaching a sales person what it is I need.

        I much prefer when the cold call starts with, "I'm here to fix your problem" as opposed to "What is your problem?"

        The former suggests that they know something, while the later tells me they don't know something.

        Maybe that's not the right way to look at it but it's what happens to me.
        I understand where you are coming from. The underlying principle of this step in the sales process is to open the lines of communication. By making it a two way conversation.

        Which in turn the prospect throughout the needs analysis will tell you exactly how to sell them. Really, it makes the close SOOOOOOOO much easier.
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  • Profile picture of the author bombasdeagua
    You have to know your client. And the client buys you first, then the product.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bobster0007
      Very good solid, sound information. Thanks guys. Speaking only for myself, I have heard lots of audio programs many times from many of the worlds great sales minds. But none of it means anything if you cant recall and verbalize your questions, pitches, retorts etc... with the right timing and being " on point ". I think practice and conditioning are the key once you know what to say and when to say it. Also using the correct voice tonality should be learned as most people have not focused on perfecting this aspect of sales. Anyway, i need to practice all of this. This is the only way i can get as good as you guys. I enjoy reading you guys. Thanks Louie!
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      • Profile picture of the author Amir Luis
        Originally Posted by Bobster0007 View Post

        ... Anyway, i need to practice all of this. This is the only way i can get as good as you guys. I enjoy reading you guys. Thanks Louie!

        Absolutely... you can soak up all the knowledge on the internet, buy WSO after WSO... but until you DO IT. You will not really know what you are doing.


        Yes... training cuts down the learning curve. But there are a lot of things you have to do, before you can really experience the curve balls not talked about in a training room or report.

        Having a little knowledge going in never hurts.... but really DOING IT is the only way I have ever learned anything. I do mean ANYthing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    Personally I do not use that method of asking too many questions as I find they carry on about all sorts of irrelevant stuff and I don't need to ask many questions as I have already done my research.

    I want to find out if they want my help first.

    Obviously if they seem to understand a bit then I may give them a bit more time but this is pretty rare.

    I know their website is not working, they are getting virtually no traffic and hence no new customers, their products and services are not to be found and there is virtually no local relevance for their business. I found all this before I left home.

    The important thing is to be a consultant not a counselor.

    You are there to help them and show them why it is not working.

    You ask the questions later as you start working with them.

    Show them why their site is not working.

    What the solution is then shut up and let them digest it.

    It is not being arrogant just business like.

    Once they say they want your help get the business out of the way, set up communication channels, skype email and as your going through their site start asking the questions.

    The real secret is confidence.

    Know what you can do to help them and lay it out as simply as you can for them.

    Even go through their site while your sitting with them and show where it falls down like no alt tags on graphics, same description on ever page, not titles and tags etc.

    We get very high conversions because our customers know what we are talking about.

    They are experiencing what we are telling them.

    Do your homework first and give them the solution.

    I own my own offline businesses and have 2 to 3 people a week coming in trying to sell me SEO or the like and I can tell you, that before too long I have to stop them, not because I know the online marketing, because they are trying to sell me.

    Most offline clients are into some sort of selling and want you to provide solutions. So give it to them.

    Quentin
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  • When it comes to offline, you may only have 1 chance to impress that potential customer, when its online they may come back and they can come back and think at any time. You need to sell it to them there and then, you need to make sure they dont leave untill they have purchased the product. Getting the deal done there and then is the important thing!
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  • Profile picture of the author oda
    IMHO

    The focus is too much on the sale!
    Forget the damn sale and talk to the business owner like another human being.

    I have sold cars, electronics and been in retail and I can tell you what gets more people to agree to buy from you is to talk BS to them!

    Football, Fishing, car racing, whatever just talk to the person and the information you will recieve is amazing. Make a personal connection.

    ALWAYS keep in mind one thing though while talking, you have 2 ears and 1 Mouth, use them in that proportion. If your not focused on what they are telling you then forget it.

    I know that when that business owner is talking your probably thinking "how can I sell this guy" and thinking up your next move. Then comes the desperatation like discounting, over promising etc. JUST LISTEN.....

    Be Yourself and remember your having a conversation, exchanging information if you like, just play it cool and if the opportunity to 'close' doesn't come up, Who cares!
    It will the next time because by listening you'll know when to retreat and leave the door open for another 'conversation'.

    ODA
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    • Profile picture of the author Amir Luis
      Originally Posted by oda View Post

      IMHO

      The focus is too much on the sale!
      Forget the damn sale and talk to the business owner like another human being.

      I have sold cars, electronics and been in retail and I can tell you what gets more people to agree to buy from you is to talk BS to them!

      Football, Fishing, car racing, whatever just talk to the person and the information you will recieve is amazing. Make a personal connection.

      ALWAYS keep in mind one thing though while talking, you have 2 ears and 1 Mouth, use them in that proportion. If your not focused on what they are telling you then forget it.

      I know that when that business owner is talking your probably thinking "how can I sell this guy" and thinking up your next move. Then comes the desperatation like discounting, over promising etc. JUST LISTEN.....

      Be Yourself and remember your having a conversation, exchanging information if you like, just play it cool and if the opportunity to 'close' doesn't come up, Who cares!

      It will the next time because by listening you'll know when to retreat and leave the door open for another 'conversation'.

      ODA
      There is a fine line when it comes to my thought processes. When I first started selling... back in the 4th grade. I used to think like that. I would be focused on how I can sell the deal or make the close.

      Now that I have had a little practice, which is what this takes. The sales process just comes natural, the steps to a sale just flow as a normal conversation. I know what information I need... but if I lose control of the pace of the conversation... I am not going to make any money.

      Quite honestly... I have enough friends.

      With Offline Marketing I am not prospecting to get appointments, just so I can make a new friend. If I don't follow the process, I am going to come here crying because I don't make enough money, and I can't understand why this isn't working...

      Listening to what you just said, is the difference between the successful offline marketer who only speaks from experience, and the guy with "what he thinks" will work.

      That being said.... this is only ONE part of the sales process. But VERY important. Building rapport is another part, and what I am sure you were referring to. But if all you do is build rapport without making the transitions to the other steps... You may get a deal every once in a while... but, like my sales manager used to tell me...

      "Even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and again."
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by oda View Post

      Be Yourself and remember your having a conversation, exchanging information if you like, just play it cool and if the opportunity to 'close' doesn't come up, Who cares!
      I think this is really dangerous advice!!!

      You must must must have a system when you are out and about selling, you must also follow that system. That system must have a process for closing. (That's a lot of musts).

      Now... let me clarify...

      To me, "Closing" is not just asking for the sale.

      Closing could be working out what the next meeting needs to be about. Closing could be both agreeing there is no way to do business together. Closing could be agreeing that there needs to be some kind of trial period.

      But to say that a sales person should be just 'having conversations' will create a lot of broke salespeople. You always need to be moving the prospect towards a yes or no. Whatever that yes or no may be in your world.
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh MacDonald
    You need to stop worrying about pyscological stuff and more about taking action.
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  • Profile picture of the author Razarulz
    im agreed with that, i think if you want to selling somenthing it's the best that you know the risk before.
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  • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
    Originally Posted by Amir Luis View Post

    So here is the deal... I hear a LOT of people say that they are getting turned down by potential clients... They always say the same thing... and then people offer a bunch of advice based on opinion....

    Take what you can from this... and leave the rest...

    The Probing Phase of the Offline Marketing Sales Process


    Keep in mind that when your selling to someone who is familiar with internet marketing and has shopped around, the probing phase of the sales process will be a whole lot shorter because he is going to ask educated questions which means you may want to transition to the next step.

    If you know anything about internet marketing you will recognize these educated questions right off the bat. But be careful, some potential clients just like to sound educated so you will not try and take advantage of them. Either way you will just have to use your judgement...


    Before you start selling you need to ask questions of your prospect.

    Start off with questions that will get them to talk about their business and have them tell you exactly how to sell them, you will be able to include the potential clients needs. This will help you understand the potential client's true needs.

    The stated context of probing or needs analysis has always been the same. It's...

    "I need to know a little more about your business and what your needs are so that I do not waste your time with products or service that you are not a good fit."

    The underlying motive or what you are really thinking and not expressing is that you need to keep control of the sales process at this point. Keeping control of the sales process or pacing the conversation is not talked about that much, but very important.

    The reason you really need to keep the pace and control is because at this point, you and your client have totally different agendas.

    They want to know how much and how long does it take because they feel that is what is important. Chances are if you let people evaluate your product or service on their terms you will get nowhere. In a lot of cases they want to know "how much" so they can dismiss you.

    When potential clients start to ask "bottom line" questions, many offline marketers make the mistake of counter acting the question with features and benefits of their products or services. You may get lucky every once in a while, but this is not very effective.

    Really, the best way to keep control is to be the one that is asking the questions and not be the one answering them.

    "How much does this cost?" asks the potential client. or...
    "Well... I can't evaluate this right now, I don't have time."

    These are tests, they are testing to see if you are a push over, and you will pass if you say this. "I don't know yet let me just ask you few more questions and I will know what the best product or service is for you."

    Or...

    "I promise not to waste your time _____ , just let me ask you a few questions about your company so I can give you a product and service that is going to meet your needs. One that you are going to be happy with so you and I will be doing business for a really long time."

    The underlying context, though not stated, is you maintaining control of the process. During this portion of the process it is imperative you maintain control. Though there are times you can let it go back and forth so the client doesn't feel like he is being manipulated or "sold". We will touch more on that later.

    During this phase is where a lot of new to sales offline marketing professionals lose the client. Then they go onto forums and whine because they couldn't close right. When in reality it wasn't the close that they didn't do right. It was they lost control at this step.

    This is the number one reason why people will not take you seriously. So now that you are reading this. Your sales conversions as an offline marketer will hugely increase and you will stop losing money.

    Then I always transition to the next phase...

    "Now that I know a lot about your business, I know that we have a product and service that really makes sense for you, it's going to lower your advertising expense, and it's going to bring you a flood of new customers/clients at the same time. But, before I get to that, what process does your company use to make purchases?"

    The above is a sample... and not a standard form answer. So please use your own for the size company you are dealing with.

    And in my last statement, or soft set... you see how I am qualifying to know if I am going to walk out with a check right now? I love this business.

    There is so much money to be made it is unreal... what I do know is that if I don't do this FOUNDATION step in the sales process. I generally don't close the deal and then I get mad... and you see me saying I am going to go push adsense for $30 per month.

    Oh... That's right... You have never heard me say that have you?

    ALL YOU OFFLINERS ... READ THE ABOVE !!!

    Write down what you are going to start doing now you have read this and do it.

    Thank you, that's all for now.
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