What’s your favorite way to open up a conversation with a prospect? Over the years, I’ve had dozens of staffing sales reps call me, and more often than not their opening line is one of the following:
- Are you the person who makes staffing decisions for Haley Marketing?
- Do you currently use staffing services?
- I have a great candidate for you…
- Or my personal favorite, how are you today?
Ask a lousy question. Get a lousy answer.
So what’s wrong with these questions? Everything! Staffing is such a competitive business, and if you’re opening your sales efforts with these kinds of “me too” questions, you put yourself right into the commodity box. Even, worse, these questions all shout “THIS IS A SALES CALL.” And nothing gets a prospect to put his guard up faster than the feeling of being sold.
The best sales question ever?
Okay, this is a trick headline because there is no one best question. The best question is any question that piques the prospects interest, and gets him or her mentally engaged in conversation right off the bat. The best question is usually very specific to the person you are calling, addressing a relevant challenge to the prospect’s business.
Here are a few examples of how a staffing sales rep might reach me:
- David, I see you specialize in marketing for staffing, What are the biggest challenges in helping staffing firms to do marketing?
- I see you are trying to hire a front end web developer. I’ve done some research, and I’ve identified five companies in your area that employ people with the skills you listed, would you like to discuss how we could
recruit them together?
- I see you are trying to hire a front end web developer. Our firm has recently compiled salary data for web developers in Western New York, would you like me to send this information to you?
- I know there are a lot of challenges in running a small business like Haley Marketing, if I gave you a “magic wand” that could solve one challenge in your business, what challenge would you solve?
- I see you specialize in content marketing. Could you tell me a little bit about how content marketing works and how you deliver your services?
- Your website says that your company mission is “to make great marketing more affordable,” what’s the hardest part about fulfilling this mission?
Be specific. Be YOU focused.
The example questions I’ve written are all things any sales rep could figure out in a five minute visit to our firm’s website. And while I wrote examples that are specific to my firm, you could apply this lesson to any prospect.
Before you call, take five minutes to visit the prospect’s website, mentally put yourself in the shoes of the HR manager or department head you are trying to reach, and brainstorm questions that are focused on the specific challenges, needs and interests of that person.
The goal of that first call is not to sell staffing. It’s to sell yourself. To stand out from your competitors. To give the prospect a reason to want to speak with you. And to learn something about the prospect’s business that will help you discover staffing needs. If you ask questions that are “YOU” focused, that is, specifically about the prospect, his or her firm, and relevant issues, you’re first calls will be much more productive.
What’s your favorite sales question?
I know the strategies I’ve suggested in this post are not the only way to open up a sales call, and I’d like to learn from you. Please post a comment and share your favorite sales questions. Thanks!