Recently we heard the following from a C level executive at an early stage software business:
“We don’t have enough leads, so we instruct our sales people to schedule meetings with anyone requesting contact with us. We allow them to ask a question or two, but we direct them to schedule the requested meeting before they have read the answers”
When sales people fill their calendars with meetings with unqualified leads they are wasting time. Here is a helpful analogy: you need a certain pair of shoes. You have 20 pairs of different shoes in your closet. It is early morning and you don’t want to wake your spouse. So you go into the dark closet and spend 10 minutes shuffling through the wrong shoes. Your spouse is woken up by the noise. You put the light on. In the next 5 seconds you find the pair you need.
The modern way of qualifying leads before agreeing to meet with them is to ask leads to do “homework” before meeting with them. Marcus Sheridan, a bestselling author, wrote in his book “They Ask You Answer” on this topic. Marcus called the process “assignment selling”. Here is a definition of the assignment selling:
Assignment selling is the process of intentionally using educational content you have created about your products and services to resolve the major concerns and answer the burning questions of prospects so they are much more prepared for a sales appointment.
This is how assignment selling worked for Marcus Sheridan:
“He began to make it mandatory that any prospect requesting a sales call review the most important pieces of educational content he had.
While the total number of sales calls went down, closing rates and revenue went up.”
I want you to focus on an important word in the above quote: “mandatory”. Marcus directed his sales people to only schedule meetings with leads who had completed the “assignment” of reading relevant content about the products and services his company sells.
We like this approach. It is just not productive to meet with leads before they are educated about your products or services. You will do better if you direct your sales people to use their free time to produce more content they can then send to people requesting meetings. Educated leads are just more promising.
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