Whether you’ve been in sales for 20 minutes, 20 months, or 20 years, selling business to business or business to consumer, adopting assignment selling will change your life, and I’m here to tell you first hand how it will make you a better sales person.
Sales comes down to one fundamental belief: trust. And when someone knows, likes, and trusts you, you can build a relationship faster and shorten that gap during the buying process.
Many people get into sales because it allows greater income potential and offers the flexibility that traditional jobs don’t.
But that doesn’t mean sales professionals want to work around the clock just to feed our families. We don’t like to be stuck in a box. We are creative, talkative, hungry for a challenge, and at our core — just really like to help people.
Out of necessity, we are constantly striving to become more efficient, to increase our skills.
But in the day to day, we find ourselves talking to more prospects than ever, faced with more resistance, hard questions, and endless objections. As a result, we work longer hours and spend more time behind the wheel or in front of the keyboard.
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 prospects have so they are much more prepared for a sales appointment.
In layman’s terms, it means answering your prospect’s questions before they ask them on a sales call. Think about it: How much research do you do online before you buy something new? Studies show the average is 70% — and that’s increasing every day.
No one wants to talk to a sales person until they’re pretty convinced they know what they want to buy. They want to do their own research, they want to get answers to their questions about cost, problems, and comparisons.
In today’s digital world, you should be able to find out most of that information yourself online. And then, when you’re pretty sure you want to buy that product or service, that’s when you contact the company and speak to a live person to help you make a final decision.
If this is true, then why do we continue to live in a distorted reality that a prospect has to come to a salesperson for all the answers? They don’t.
And the more we empower the buyer to get those questions answered without having to talk to us, the closer we will get to the sale without having to do anything except keep them moving through the sales process.
How do we do that? By being transparent about the buyer’s questions before and during the sales process.
Chances are, if you’ve been asked a question once, you’ve been asked it multiple times, and you’ll be asked it from future prospects as well.
Getting started with assignment selling
As a first step, here are some examples you, as a sales rep, could ask yourself:
What questions do you currently get asked the most often?
What are you currently being asked that buyers should know every time?
What questions do you get asked that immediately indicate the buyer is not close to ready to make a decision?
What do your clients and buyers push back on the most?
What are your buyers’ biggest doubts or worries (with respect to the product, the process, or the company)?
What do your buyers have to convince their key decision-makers of?
Why are people not buying from you?
What are the things that your customers must see and believe in order to move to the next stage?
What are the things that would cause a client NOT to move to the next stage?
Assignment selling allows you to spend more time on better fit prospects
How many prospect calls have you had in the past week that were just not a good fit for your product or service?
How far into the conversation did it take you to realize that? How much time did you spend researching your prospect before you met with them? How many hours did you spend on the presentation deck before the call? How frustrated were you when they weren’t a good fit?
Now, imagine a scenario where each prospect gets a video before the first sales appointment. This video explains some of the commonly asked questions that normally get asked in the first call.
Here at IMPACT, we call this an 80% video. Why? Because it answers 80% of the questions prospects would ask on the first call.
Based on their years of experience, our sales team put together a list of the commonly-asked questions we get on the first call.
We then send a two-minute video to all prospects before that first call and ask them to watch it. I ask each prospect to watch it before our call and if they can’t, to please reschedule out of respect for both of our time.
Think about it. If they aren’t willing to spend two-minutes watching a video, how well do you think that first appointment will go?
This saves me time talking to someone who is not up to speed on some of our services and a range of costs they can expect working with us.
If they have watched the video and especially if they’ve visited several pages on our website, we can have a more fruitful conversation.
The prospect can spend more time talking with me about how to move forward versus me having to educate them.
Assignment selling speeds up the sales process
You may live in the world of the one-call close, but more often than not, buyers are not making a decision in just one meeting. And that’s where assignment selling comes in to speed up the sales process.
If you’ve sent your prospect the 80% video, chances are they will come well qualified and you will have a great first meeting. But what happens when you come to the end of that first meeting and that person isn’t ready to buy? Maybe you need to set up a demo.
Perhaps the prospect needs to bring in their boss to the next meeting. There are often just too many variables that go into the sale to finalize everything in just one meeting.
So, set the next meeting but don’t leave it at that. Send them something in between and tell them you want them to review it in advance of the next call.
If you’ve been compiling a list of questions and objections you get in the sales process, this will become easier over time; eventually you can create a library of materials to send between meetings.
You can then even create templates with the most relevant materials, spend just a little time customizing that follow-up email to your prospect based on the call, and press that send button.
I always stress to the prospect that I am going to be sending them something and that I expect them to review it before our next meeting.
If you have analytics like we do, you can see exactly how many pages they’ve read and even how much of the video they have watched.
I now know going into my next meeting just how invested that prospect is. Have they opened the email? Have they read the articles? Have they watched the video?
Then, the next conversation is not a sales pitch. It starts with questions like “what was your biggest takeaway from the information you’ve reviewed since our last meeting?” or “from the video that you watched, what specific questions do you have?”
Then you can get right down to business because you know you have an engaged buyer and you can have a much more productive conversation.
Now you’re having first conversations with better fit buyers. They come to the first call having some of their initial questions answered.
Based on what they tell you, you can send them additional materials to review in advance of the next call.
Never just send them the information and hope they call. Tell them you’re going to send them the information and book the next call.
It is perfectly acceptable to say “I’m going to send you this information to review in advance of our next call. If, after reviewing it, you decide it doesn’t make sense to have the next call, either you’ve decided yes, you’d like to proceed or no, you’re going to go another route, we can cancel that call.”
By getting right to the point and using assignment selling, it saves time for you both.
If they don’t do the homework and cancel the call, you haven’t wasted any more time.
If they do the homework and decide to buy, you have shortened the sales cycle.
If they do the homework, get on the next call and continue through the sales cycle more familiar with how you can help, you’re on the right track.
When you update your CRM with your calls at the end of the week and you see that you had fewer calls, but more time spent on quality calls, and closed more business using assignment selling, your close ratio will have gone up and your boss will smile.
Not only is your close ratio higher, but you’re closing more deals and better deals.
My best advice for getting started with assignment selling
You can see how assignment selling can save you time, have you connecting with better fit prospects, and improve your close rate.
Content never sleeps. But we as salespeople do.
To get started with assignment selling, review the nine questions I asked earlier in this article to help you get started. Involve anyone in marketing and leadership to get these articles and videos written and published. Then start using these resources immediately.
And if you need more actionable tips about how to put this into place, I invite you to sign up for IMPACT+ and take our free 30-minute course on assignment selling.