Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Review: HOT PROSPECTS by Bill Good Makes Me Wish Life Was a Bowl of Cherries

Bill Good, author of HOT PROSPECTS (Scribner, 2008), knows the secret - he knows that reading a book about how to find sales prospects is just as painful as actually finding the prospects. Almost as bad as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick! So he interjects enough humor to keep you engaged. The same sense of humor one has to have when cultivating prospects for one's own business.

Right off the bat he discusses the Old Way of prospecting vs. the Good Way. With the Old Way you basically take a "no" to mean "not yet" and proceed to bug your lead to death forcing him to say "no" until he slams the phone down in your ear. All the while wasting your time and energy on a prospect who just isn't (and never will be) interested in buying from you. The Old Way assumes that buyers are liars and that when they say "I'm not interested" that means, "Send me more info." With the Good Way "no" means "no" and the conversation ends immediately with a "thankyouverymuch."

Prospects are classified as being hot prospects (smokin' hot), red cherries (pretty hot), green cherries (might be hot some day but not now), and then a few more classifications which are basically the pits. Mr. Good advises working with the red cherries because they will be fun and interested in you. If leads are unpleasant don't deal with them. (What a concept!).

Information in the book is reinforced on his website. Mr. Good inconveniently hides the passwords in the chapters so that one can't "tell all your friends." This makes it a little tough for those of us who may be reading in an airplane, on the exercise bike or any other place where a computer isn't at our finger tips. To go back later and try to find the passwords is time taxing. If I were über-rude I would list all the passwords right here - but I won't. The information is worthy. Remember to read the book with a highlighter.

Two quick points that I highlighted:

  1. People buy benefits, not features. (Duh, we all know that) - BUT the spin Good presents is that clients ask questions about features, not benefits. AND, people must ask questions to buy. They want to ask questions to demonstrate they are "reasonably sophisticated" and prove they are "analytical, not emotional buyers." The lesson here is to withhold features in your initial calls and presentations so that your prospects can ask questions about them. Don't leave your prospect with no questions to ask because then they will not buy.

  2. Dripping. This is the series of "low-key messages and phone calls designed to keep your name alive" with a prospect. I've always called it my excuses for reaching out to touch a prospect. I blogged about this topic last year. A phone call, followed by a letter, followed by an email, followed by a postcard, etc. He presents dripping on the last 4 pages of the book. Be sure to read these pages even if you have to skip to the end.

Mr. Good reveals his extensive work with lead generation in the financial services industry. Depending on your business you may find some techniques not relevant to your industry. HOT PROSPECTS is a great how-to book complete with access to scripts, sales letter templates, sample direct mail letters and tons of checklists. You can always cherry-pick the sections most relevant to your business whether it's a small server hosting company or a large firm.


Dr. Jim Anderson said...

Jan: you forgot to mention the most tip for turning green cherries into red cherries: providing useful info that they really want. This gets back to the universal sales goal of transforming ourselves from "sales person" into "trusted adviser". If you can find a way to give before you try to get, then your bowl of cherries will become much larger...

- Dr. Jim Anderson
The Accidental Negotiator Blog
"Learn The Secrets of Side-By-Side Negotiating To Get The Most Value Out Of Every Negotiation"

Zan Jones, Founder of Sales JaZ said...

Good point! Yes, we all feel more comfortable buying from a trusted adviser. Thanks for the reminder.