Necessity vs Curiosity: How to really connect with the elusive prospect

The difference between a curiosity appointment and a needs based appointment should be totally clear to you.

In today’s challenging and competitive marketplace it has never been tougher to find a new prospective client. Each and every opportunity seems to have more weight on it because of the elusiveness of our prospects. They seem to regularly wiggle out of phone calls and appointments set, which can really frustrate any sales professional.

One of the main reasons these decision makers don’t want to hold to their commitments goes back to us, the producer or selling professional. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why would he want to speak or meet with me?
  • Is it possible that I am interrupting him when he is busy
  • What’s in it for him?

Even if you believe that you have the best product or service imaginable, does the person you are speaking with really care? Will they seek out good insurance, going to compare here and make sure it is covered once they buy it from you? Is it possible that even if he does agree to meet with you, it’s only because there’s the slightest curiosity about you or your offering? The truth is that we have been taught just to get the meeting, and by doing so, we at least have a shot at their business. This could be a five minute call or a fifteen minute face to face where we pitch our best stuff. While this may be the calling of the true “sales artist” of years past, it has become much more challenging to pull off in the year 2011.

The best calls and meetings happen when we are able to uncover a possible need early on. Not just a curiosity. The best way to approach this concept is from the buyer’s point of view. When you go to buy a new car from a dealership, would you like the salesperson to show you what they think you’d like or something that better fits your needs and wants? Buying a car is a commitment that you have to be sure of when you make it, for example, if you buy a BMW you need to make sure that you take care of it the way it needs to by using a BMW service in Bellevue or one closer to you to keep it in tip-top condition, just like you would do with a business and the services you provide. Even if you don’t purchase your cars from physical dealerships anymore, but rather on sites like, try and imagine the atmosphere. Let’s take this a step further. What if the salesperson asked you the following questions:

  • What are you looking for in a new car?
  • What did you like or dislike with your existing car?
  • Why are you looking at a new car?

This may seem simple, however you know all to well that your last experience at the local car dealer probably didn’t go that way. If you’re looking for a meeting that will take hold and stick, here’s a suggestion. Try to ask some questions and uncover what your prospective buyer might need or want.

An example of this could happen on your initial call where you introduce yourself and explain why you are calling. “Mr. Smith, we work with organizations, like yours, that have one of the following issues. They are lacking a sufficient marketing plan and the sales team is running around aimlessly, or 20% of your team is producing 80% of your revenues, or the recession is causing everyone to make excuses for poor production. Which of these sounds like something you might be dealing with?

Based on his answer, you might have some great information to work off of. Asking a few follow up questions uncovers that they do in fact have these issues, but not the answers to solve them. BANG, appointment gets set. In addition to not selling over the phone, he has an incentive to meet with you because of the belief that you have the answers to the issues discussed (which you do). Once the appointment is set, finishing off with a strong agenda will insure he knows you are a consummate professional.

The difference between a curiosity appointment and a needs based appointment should be totally clear to you now. Selling on the phone and face to face is never a good idea anymore. Understanding a prospective client’s needs and reasons for buying will always prevail in today’s competitive economic times. A buyer’s time is their greatest asset, as is yours. No one can afford to take meetings that aren’t really necessary. By approaching your prospects with questions and not pitches, you will find that everyone wins!