Breakdown of a probe
The first question tells you when they will be taking quotes, which is important because it denotes the timeframe and seriousness of finding a vendor. Knowing when the prospect will be accepting quotes allows you to get in front of them sooner rather than later. Which is a good thing if you want to beat your competitors to the punch. The question also tells the cold caller whether they’re “open” to a quote. Asking if the prospect is “open” is a psychological trick I learned years ago because it’s more difficult to say no to the question. It gives you a better shot at getting a yes to an appointment instead of a no.
Asking if a prospect has a budget or timeframe can be tricky because they may not want to tell you or they may not have determined a budget as of yet. That’s why the second question is important. It may also be a bit off putting to the prospect particularly if they aren’t ready to accept quotes. Not to worry; if they aren’t ready for a quote then they probably aren’t ready to meet either.
Depending on your industry, some services are handled inside of the company. Knowing this ahead of time will save you the headache later of being told that the prospect has decided to keep the services in-house. Don’t be alarmed if they do handle it in-house because depending on the project-some of it may be “vendored out”. This is particularly true if the person in-house isn’t as experienced in certain aspects of the project as the decision maker may want. So even though they handle some things in-house, they may not do it all there.
The fourth question gives you an opportunity to learn more about the upcoming project in detail. Knowing this will tell you how committed the prospect is to the project.
The final question is about learning past experiences. But be careful because this question could go either way. If the prospect has had a great experience with a vendor, they may not be willing to share that info with you. I would be wary however if this is the case because it begs the question-why aren’t they using the previous vendor now? Are they just shopping to keep the current vendor honest? If it was a bad experience they may tell you in detail just to see how you’d handle it differently.