Stop wasting time selling

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Good salespeople know one thing above all others, their prospects don’t care about them — or even their product or service. If you get your prospect through networking it’s easy to believe differently, as they know you. So I’ll be clear, no prospects cares about you, or your service; prospects only care about solving their greatest problems.

Prospects only care about solving their greatest problems.

Look inside their head

So, stop going about your, and how great your product it. Work on really understanding what’s going on in your prospects’ world, and see an amazing uplift in your sales.

Sales qualification questions

There are six powerful sales questions that help you uncover your prospect’s deeper frustrations and thinking. Knowing these answers early on can stop you spending time with people who are not ready to buy. There’s lot’s more to do after you’ve got these answer, but only if it’s worthwhile.

  1. What’s the problem you’re seeking to fix with this purchase? Change is never easy, and people don’t make big purchases just for the fun of it. If there’s no real problem they are trying to solve, there’s no real reason for them to buy. So, before going further know what the pain is. They might already know the problem, or it might be one the prospect wasn’t even aware of.
  2. What’s prompting you to do something about it now? If they haven’t tried to fix it before, why will they try and fix it now? Sales conversations go on over weeks and get nowhere often fail because there’s change. “What has prevented you from trying to solve the problem until now” is a variant of this, and might also help you understand their historic (and current?) priorities. Another good variation on this is “Tell me about your average day and how this purchase will affect it”. This is a good open question, shows their thinking process and can reveal where they are in the decision-making process.
  3. What happens if you do nothing? Again, you’re trying to find the urgency and understand their world. If there’s no good answer here- stop wasting your time – OR get them to focus on the danger of not acting.

Poor sales people don’t like to discuss how much prospects will spend; it’s the biggest cause of time wasting.

  1. Do you have a budget allocated for this project? When selling to large companies, look for the budget. If there isn’t one you yet it may get tough. Adapting this for selling to another small business to something like “when/ how much were you planning on spending on this”? You’re checking to see if they have thought about it, and if your offering is in the right price zone. If your product costs £1,000 and they can only afford £100, the sale won’t happen. Most untrained sales people don’t like to discuss how much their prospect will spend, which is the biggest cause of time wasting in the sale. Find a way that works for you, and do it early.
  2. How does the decision process work with a purchase like this? It’s a variant of the ‘authority’ question (who is really in charge). You want to know who else they (have to) consult with, what thinking processes they go through. Big purchases by larger companies often have a group of people involved, you want to know the dynamics of that group (there might be the “ultimate signer”, a “financial approver”, an “operational approver”, etc.) Don’t assume that single person businesses “just decide”, each have their way of thinking, and involve others (from spouse, to mastermind group). You might even ask “How did the decision making process go the last time you bought a similar product?”. If relevant it can be a good place to ask something like “how much of a problem is (name the pain they’re trying to solve) for others in your team”.
  3. Are there any upcoming events or deadlines you need to have a solution in place by? Rather than just asking for the date they want it done by (often subjective and irrelevant), try to understand their rationale for that date. Knowing this helps you see if it’s real, and allows you later to ask “working backward from (that date), we’d would need to sign our contract by (a date you create, so they can achieve their date). Do you think that’s achievable?

Sales and marketing signpost

What have you now discovered?

Early qualification questions don’t magically mean you’ve made the sale, but can save you a lot of time with somebody who isn’t likely to buy. You’ve found out about:

  • Their budget: Do they have one, or how will they fund it
  • Do they have the authority to make the purchase. Bearing in mind that nowadays it’s often a group of people who make the decision.
  • What are they trying to fix, and how important is that.
  • When they need to fix it, what the real time frame is. Initially people will often say “ASAP”, but it’s rarely true.

You may recognise this as an adaptation of “BANT”, which is a good framework but doesn’t always fit directly.

Do you like dealing with automatons?

Don’t just ask these questions from a checklist, bring them into conversation; or you’ll sound like an uncaring robot.

How do these questions fit in with your current sales process?

Written by Jon Baker. I work with small business owners who want to achieve sane success. You started your own business to be successful and improve your life, not stress it out due to pressure. I would love to discuss any of the matters in this article, feel free to email me.



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