There is an old adage in sales that says ‘’the person asking the questions controls the meeting.’’ You want to be sure that you are asking the right questions while utilizing the appropriate sales techniques which can help you close big deals. As a result, you’re leaving your clients confident that they made the right decision going with you and your company. It’s a win-win.
In any potential sales prospecting situation, a good place to start is with the assumption that your prospect is a smart person. The key to the smart person making the smart decision is having the right information in the right context. Unfortunately, that’s where most sales efforts fall apart. Most times, the buyer has trouble getting the right information in the right context. That is where you can add value, and win the day–and the deal!
Think about it from the potential sales prospect’s point of view. Throughout their day, they are overwhelmed with so much information to sort through and so many conflicting opinions and options to consider. As they try to figure out the best choice to make, there is a very real chance that some of the information they receive is inaccurate, outdated, or just plain sketchy. The other issue is that you and your competitors’ offerings are likely not priced, packaged or sold the same way, so your prospective customer now has to reconcile an apples-to-oranges comparison. Ugh. No one likes that.
So it’s your job to reframe the process, ask the right questions that have them thinking about their needs, not your services. If you can gain alignment and agreement that you are solving their specific issues, then price and packaging become a distant second priority.
With that in mind, here are a few conversation starters and sales techniques you can use to help the prospect figure out exactly what they are looking for.
1) Open-ended questions:
Having a series of five-to-ten open-ended questions ready to go is a great way to help the prospect make their own discoveries. Examples include:
- “What are the issues you are trying to resolve in your current operation or with your current provider?”
- “How has your business changed in the last 6 months that is impacting your needs in this area?
- “How would you know in 30 days that you have made the right selection?”
2) Preference-scoring questions:
These questions are a great way to help your prospect set their priorities when dealing with complex situations. They are typically structured like this: “On a 1-to-5 scale, 5 being most important, please rate the following qualities that you are searching for in this product/service/solution.”
3) Trade-off /force ranking questions:
Most people have heard the old line in sales, “Speed, quality or price–you can have any two.” The basic idea is that there are trade-offs between qualities. For prospects who “want it all” but either can’t have it because it doesn’t exist or they can’t afford it, this helps to establish the specifics of what a final solution has to have to be desirable.
This also serves to make the prospect aware that they may just be unrealistic in their expectations. Until it is discussed and addressed, they may have just taken your ability to deliver on all of these business requirements for granted.
Sometimes creating an overall Business Assessment Tool is a good way to gather all of this information in one place. Combining several of these approaches and sales techniques into an overall quiz/onboarding questionnaire/survey/needs assessment (whatever you want to call it, other than ‘’test’’) can be the answer. Make it easy. Whether you program it digitally and host it online, create a survey (like Survey Monkey) or a writable PDF, you want to be able to capture the inputs. This approach offers a deeper dive into the real issues that they are considering changing or the larger goals they are trying to achieve. This clarifies areas of concern and gives a better sense of the potential order of implementation for a multi-phase solution.
You want the conversation, and the questions to be as informative to the prospect as they are for you. Gaining alignment and agreement through a process like this is critical to having your offer accepted. By going through a process like this, your prospect arrives at the decision themselves, giving them confidence that the information you provided is accurate and that the solution is a good fit for their problem, and with you landing a new customer.