Time is of essence to sales professionals. Dealing with tire kickers or prospects (I prefer the term potential customers) does not add any greenbacks to your piggy bank. These five questions may help shorten your qualifying process within your sales approach and help to achieve your goal to increase sales.
Question #1 – What is your goal, objective or desire to be achieved in the next year?
This question is asked in conjunction to the industry and the products or services you deliver. However, the foundation of the question is all about the desired results. Without knowing what this person wants to accomplish sets you as the sales professional down the no road sales path. This question also helps to take your beliefs (foundational experiences) and places them on the sidelines so that you engage in active listening.
Question #2 – Why is achieving this goal, objective or desire important to you?
By asking this question, you begin to emotionalize the sales process and build what some may call the pain. Another benefit of this question is that you may learn what motivates the potential customer and any other participants within the decision making process. For example, you are speaking with the sales manager and he shares part of his gain is recognition by his boss. Then you can ask a follow-up question such as: How will your boss be involved in this potential solution?
Question #3 – What obstacles are standing in your way to successfully achieve this goal, objective or desire?
Here is not only a qualifying question, but also a fact-finding question regarding the resources of time, energy, money, emotions and people. You may learn about failed past initiatives, unhappiness with current vendors while gaining additional knowledge about the overall organizational structure. Also, by focusing on the resources you can learn time lines, productivity, budget concerns, commitment and people (relationships).
Question #4 – If this goal is successfully achieved, what is the benefit to your company as well as to yourself?
The purpose of this question is to establish some measurable metrics while still building an emotional buy-in. Many times, potential customers do not invest the time to make all the necessary connections between the solution and the results. This is a wrap up question to the previous three questions. By this time you should have a fairly solid mental picture if this is someone you wish to further pursue as a potential client.
Question #5 – Are there any questions you would like to ask of me?
Now is the time for the potential customer to determine if you are someone he or she wishes to do business with or further build the relationship. The end result of this conversation is this question from the prospect to you: “Can we schedule a time to discuss or further discuss how you can help my company and me?”
P.S. As a side note, you may wish to state up front when you meet with this individual that you have several questions to ask and would that be alright. Asking permission to proceed is a great way to build rapport in relationship selling.
By Vanessa Brown