Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Paul Schwada.
About the interviewee
Paul Schwada, Director of Locomotive Solutions, is an independent management consultant with experience across a wide range of businesses, including B2B, B2C and B2G; domestic and international markets; and software, hardware and services.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
Solo practitioner based out of Chicago.
What type and size of companies do you have as clients?
Healthy, well-established middle market companies that are trying to move forward… running a good business today while reshaping it at the same time for tomorrow’s market.
What comes to mind when you see this topic?
Babies and bathwater. The best salespeople are a great resource for prospective customers. Even when the prospect doesn’t buy, they help sharpen the prospect’s saw in their area of expertise.
But lame salespeople have spoiled the market. Whether through the rise of the hard-presser (a la Wolf of Wall Street) or our tolerance for mediocre bumblers, executives have largely been trained to consider sales calls a useless intrusion.
Every sales call, particularly a cold call, starts with a steep hill to climb because the executive assumes it’s a waste of time.
The good salesperson that can be a useful resource not only has to have the knowledge and skill to be a useful resource… he also has to figure out how to quickly communicate to the prospective executive customer that this call might just be baby, not bathwater.
What are the best practices when it comes to this issue?
The best salespeople are consultative. Which means they will not start by telling; instead, they’ll start with questions. So the effective prospector doesn’t start with “I know what I can do for you.” He starts with “I’d like to explore with you…”
He also makes it clear that he understands the dynamics: that the executive is skeptical, but that he legitimately may be able provide some value through an exploratory conversation.
The bottom line: the prospecting salesperson usually starts with little credibility. He has to ooze credibility right from the start.