1950A few days ago, I spent an hour or so interviewing a few sales people from a company that has been patiently waiting for a time slot to open up on my schedule so they can engage me to transform their sales team.

Classic problem: Lot’s of activity, diminishing productivity.

One of the reps said to me: “I basically respond to inquiries from people who e-mail or call our company looking for information about our solution. I’ve always figured that they wouldn’t be getting in touch with me unless they weren’t interested in our solution. The problem is, when I call them back, I go into “sales pitch” mode, and then the sales process gets stuck and I lose the sale.”

Is this happening in your company?

This rep had inadvertently put his finger on a major problem with how old-school sales approaches deal with inbound leads — which is that inbound leads are “warm” leads from people who want to buy.

The problem is, that’s a myth.

Why?

Because the truth is:

Inbound e-mails or calls are similar to cold calls except that the leads have taken the first step by contacting you. This means that the inbound “warm” leads we get so excited about are actually no different from “cold” leads.

Why?

Because you can’t assume you have any more of a relationship with an inbound lead than you do with someone you cold call.

YOU AND THE OTHER PERSON ARE STILL COMPLETE STRANGERS.

That means that, just as with a cold call, you need to create a relationship of trust based on their issues or problems, through a natural two-way conversation, focused on identifying if both of you are a fit.

After all, how often, after talking with a so-called warm lead, do you realize that their agenda is a total mismatch with your expectations of how you hoped the call would turn out?

Maybe they were just comparing prices, shopping around, or gathering ideas for the future. No wonder it’s easy to feel discouraged, after you’ve done all the “right” things and they still disappear on you.

When you master Unlock The Game, it always comes down to the same thing: If you don’t take the time to find out what their problem or issue is, and you jump right into your sales pitch, you inadvertently introduce sales pressure, which puts them on the defensive and makes them withdraw.

And this, as you know, makes trust and honest communication virtually impossible.

How you handle your communication with your inbound leads will make the difference between never hearing from them again, or eventually making the sale.

Inbound Lead or Cold Call?: The Goals Are the Same

Although it’s true that inbound leads are obviously open to talking with you because they contacted you first, you can’t assume that your product or solution is a match, so your job is still to find out the truth of their situation.

If you assume you’re a match just because they called you, you’ll be resistant to finding out the truth about what’s on their mind.

Here are the key differences between how old-school selling and Unlock The Game view inbound leads:

Old-Style Selling Unlock The Game
Assume that because the caller initiated contact with you, they’re “pre-sold,” and move forward with your sales process. Find out what their issue, problem, or concern is — in other words, their truth.
Focus on talking about what YOU have to offer. Discuss whether your product or service is a possible fit or not.
Go for the appointment or sale. Let the other person know that it’s up to them to let you know where they “want to go from here.”
Follow up, chase, and close. If both of you decide there isn’t a fit, know it’s okay to walk away without feeling guilty.

If you shift your mindset away from trying to chase the sale and focus on them and creating a trusting connection so they feel comfortable telling you the truth of what they’re thinking, you’ll transform your sales results almost immediately.

Your comments are welcome below.

To your success,