Have you ever had a prospect say to you "Tell me about your products and I only have 10 minutes"? What have you done in this situation? What was the response you received?
Before we look at three ways to respond, let's look at the "I only have 10 minutes" statement.
The "I only have 10 minutes" statement could be true and/or it could be being used as a protection mechanism. Your prospects want to protect themselves from salespeople and this statement is ideal for this. If they've told you they only have 10 minutes then they are not being rude when they leave the conversation in 10 minutes. Bear this in mind as you read on.
There are three options for how to respond when your prospect says "Tell me about your products and I only have 10 minutes."
You fall into the trap and tell them about your products. You talk non-stop for 10 minutes bombarding them about your products. You hope that something relevant is going to jump out at them as you talk, talk, talk and talk.
If you take this option you've acted like a salesperson. If you're acting like a salesperson your prospect will be counting the seconds until the 10 minutes are up so they can say "thanks very much, I've got to go."
By talking nonstop about yourself and your products you've committed 6 out of the 10 top sales mistakes and you will have more than likely repelled your prospect.
You ask to schedule a time when they have longer than 10 minutes to talk.
On the surface this sounds like a sensible option but if they are using the 10-minutes as a protection barrier, it'll be difficult to get more time with them. Prospects don't want to let this protection mechanism against salespeople go.
If they really only have 10 minutes then think of it from their perspective. They are busy and their time is valuable. In the 10 minutes they've given you they really want you to show them why they should talk to you. So can you see that even if they don't have a real 10 minutes deadline, they'll probably still only want to give you 10 minutes?
This option is the complete opposite of Option One where you talk, talk and talk. With this option you get them to talk, ideally for about 8 out of the 10 minutes.
With this option, instead of hearing "Tell me about your products and services." you hear "What's in it for me to talk to you?" You know you have 10 minutes for them to feel there is value in them spending their limited time having a conversation with you.
If they can see the value in talking to you, then when the 10 minutes is up they'll probably keep talking and you might find the 10 minutes extends to 30 minutes to an hour, etc. Also, if the 10 minute limit was real, then probably at the end of the 10 minutes they'll be the ones asking you to come back to continue the great conversation.
So how do you show them what's in it for them to talk to you? There are essentially two parts. Part one is where you set the context for asking questions and the second part is where you ask them highly relevant, targeted and short questions which get them to talk so you can listen.
Here's a very brief example of setting up the context for asking questions:
"There is so much I could l tell you but rather than waste your time talking about products that may or may not be relevant or of any value to you, I'd really like to spend the next 10 minutes talking about your own specific issues. That way when I do talk about our products, I'll be able to show you exactly where the value is for you. You never know we may even find that my products are of no value to you. If it's okay with you I'd like to ask you a few questions..."
If you take this approach, you're not acting like a salesperson trying to sell them something and consequently the salesperson protection barrier will come down. People are interested in people who are sincerely interested in them and want to help them solve their problems. They will want to continue the conversation as they will see it to be of value to them.
So in summary whenever a prospect says "Tell me all about your products and I only have 10 minutes" don't fall into the trap of talking and get them to talk instead. Ask meaningful, relevant and short questions and your prospects will want to talk to you - for much longer than 10 minutes.
(c) 2008 Tessa Stowe, Sales Conversation. WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? Yes, you can, provided you make all links live and include this copyright and by-line below.