“Whoever is first to the field will be fresh for the fight.” – Sun Tzu
Ever waited on the phone to ring or emails to come in and wondered why sales were in a slump? You’re not alone.
Every salesperson, at one time or another, realizes that running a referral-based business puts our success in the hands of other people. Eventually, salespeople realize they have to make contact with new leads who may not know them or trust them – yet.
That means days filled with calls, emails, sending letters and commenting on social media. But what if there was a way to be first to the field, as Sun Tzu advises? What if there was a way to draw new prospects to you instead of waiting on referrals or chasing cold leads?
We discussed that very problem with Doug Sandler, founder of the Nice Guys podcast, and were surprised at what we told us. Instead of waiting for the phone to ring or making prospect’s phones ring, Doug advises we become adept at interview-based selling.
It’s a way to both connect with new prospects in a non-salesy way, learn about their individual challenges, and provide value to the industry you serve. While many salespeople and companies have created podcasts to fill this need, Doug told us that’s only one of many ways to execute an interview-based selling strategy. We can also choose between blogs, videos, audio, or a combination of all three.
Because we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: To begin this sales system with any prospect, Doug advises to ask the simple question, “Because I saw you post X, I’m intrigued. Could you share a little of your story with me?” If that prospect is receptive, the next step is to invite them to be on your podcast/be interviewed for your industry newsletter/etc.
That can be done via instant message, email or snail mail – but the quickest way to get a prospect engaged in being interviewed is to pick up the phone yourself.
R – Repeatable: To ensure you’re asking great questions that also further your sales discovery, don’t leave your interviews to chance. Have a series of questions prepared ahead of time that answer the question all of your readers/viewers want to know. Where is this person from? Where do they work? What do they do? What do they have in common with everyone else in your industry? What challenges do they see across their industry? How are they/their team tackling those challenges?
While producing a blog, podcast, Vlog, etc. will differ depending on the platform and type of product you’re producing, it’s easy to set up and automate many of the editing/publishing tasks so you can ensure your interview gets in front of the other prospects in your pipeline.
I – Improvable: To get better at your interviews and using them as a way to communicate with new prospects, Doug says to eliminate steps you’re using that don’t yield results. Whether those are outreach tasks to prospects, outreach tasks to folks who have agreed to talk with you, the questions you ask, or even the format of how you release your interviews.
Nothing is a ‘sacred cow’ in the sales world. If it works, make it better. If it doesn’t, eliminate it.
M – Measurable: Doug explained there are leading and lagging indicators of success to measure with interview-based sales. Leading indicators are the size of your distribution list, the number of interviews you’re booking and even the number of interviewees that convert into follow-on sales conversations. Lagging indicators are the number of clients your interviews produce from both interviewees and folks who read/watch/listen to your content.