3 Minutes to Success

In an ideal fantasy world, you would be the only sales rep this month that has called the prospect. You would get the actual decision maker on the line who just so happens to have a spare hour with nothing to do. She will be thrilled to hear all about you, your product, and your company. She will even listen tirelessly to the grand tales about your fishing trip in Alaska last summer, how favorable the odds are of the home team winning the pennant, that the weather is looking good for the weekend. And please take your time, she has all day!


Now that we are back on Earth, let’s develop a strategy where you can effectively deal with the many obstacles in your path when making cold calls.

You can safely assume that the person you want to talk to does not want to talk to you. It’s nothing personal. They are busy. They must triage their time – important rush tasks get attention first, those that can wait are put off, those that are not absolutely required never get done.

They know that most calls from sales reps are a complete waste of time. Probably 99%. The one out of a hundred that may be valuable, that they miss by refusing all calls, is the price they must pay to have enough time to get what needs to be done, done.

After decades of downsizing, American companies are lean and mean. The survivors got that way by being faster and a little smarter. They are carrying the workload that two or three employees did before. They are burnt out, on the edge, have not a minute to waste. They may just take it out on you if you interrupt and bother them.

Added to this equation is the “noise” in the marketplace. The noise of thousands of competing ads, phone calls, emails, visits, letters, and so on. All vying, screaming to be noticed by your prospect.

And then you call . . .

How do you bust through the noise? How do you persuade these frazzled hyper-busy people to drop what they are doing and talk to you?

First know this – it’s not about you. It’s about her. Your entire approach must have this focus. For many reps it would be easier for them to fly like a bird.

You absolutely must not sound like a telemarketer. Therefore, you must do precisely the opposite of what telemarketers do.
Do not read a script.
Do not lead in with your name and company.
Do not launch into a spiel about your product.
Do not talk at prospects, failing to ask questions, listen to the answers, and respond to the answers.
Do not try manipulative closing techniques that are obvious and insulting.

The goal initially, is not to sell the product. It is to sell the time for a presentation – at the end of which you close. People do exactly what they want to do. You can’t “make” them do things. A presentation will only happen if the prospect wants it to happen. Why would she want to listen to you? To solve a problem she has or provide an advantage she wants. The bigger the problem or desire for the advantage the better the odds of you selling the presentation.<

You have 3 minutes!

Step 1 – 10 Seconds

In the first 10 seconds you must to grab the prospect’s attention and make him want to hear more. To accomplish this you must script out an opening statement that contains not one extra sentence, word, or letter more than is absolutely necessary.

Here is an example:

Peter Putz: Hi my name is Peter Putz with Acme Smelting and Web Design. We are having a special price on websites of only $499 instead of our usual $500…

Prospect: We aren’t interested, thanks anyway, CLICK (they hung up).

Nobody cares what your name is, what your product is, and what company you are with. They also could give a rat’s ass about a “special” price for something they don’t want. The approach above is typical of a telemarketing call center that hires low-level drones to read scripts all day. Or inside sales reps with no training who do what they guess sales reps are supposed to do.

Terry Toprep: I saw your website just now. I saw your competitors websites too. Yours is not keeping up with the changing times. Just look at Samson and Son’s, your major competitor down the street, their site is fantastic – great graphics, well-written copy, functional searching and quotation request forms. Yours just sits there.

Prospect: Yeah, I’ve seen their site but I doubt we could afford one like that. Who are you anyway?

The prospect recognizes and admits a problem. Even better he indicates an interest in a solution.

Step 2 – 20 Seconds
You earned perhaps another 20 seconds. You need to quickly tell a compelling story of what you are going to do for the prospect to fix a significant problem or give them a big gain.

Terry Toprep: I’m Terry Toprep an Internet marketing specialist with Top Designs in San Francisco. Your present site is OK if it was 3 years ago, but this is now and it is costing you money everyday until you do something about it. I imagine that hundreds of visitors take a quick look at your home page and then bail. Those visitors could have been your customers right now with their checks being deposited in your bank account. Instead they are writing checks to your competitors. I can fix this for your right now.

Prospect: If you can get me more customers then I guess I can spare a few minutes . . .

Note that when a prospect asks who you are they don’t really care, they just don’t know what else to say so they follow cultural programming. Give your name and company and jump ahead before they interrogate you or you launch into a canned pitch assuming (wrongly) they want to hear it. The first 30 seconds buys you a few more minutes that you need to sell the presentation.

Step 3 – 2 1/2 Minutes
Ask the critical qualifying questions, establish some credibility for you, your product, and your company, and hint at some great news you have for them during the presentation.

Close for a presentation right now or an appointment. You must push hard during the first 3 minutes to create value and urgency – so you become important. Anything that is more important than your appointment will cause it to be cancelled. If a prospect values your appointment less than an impromptu coffee with the guys at the office then when you call an admin will tell you he was suddenly required to attend a meeting.

Step 4 – Presentation and Close
The presentation requires that you resell the prospect on the time you need. Repeat the first 3 minutes. This sets the stage for the half hour or more that you need to properly learn about the prospect, his business, and his problems and then to offer whatever solutions you may have and ask fo a decision to go forward.