If you’re a regular reader of my column, you know that I am a big fan of the probing question. The body of the script is where the probing begins. Probing is really about determining if the prospect has a need for your service and if you want to do business with them. Most cold callers make the mistake of trying to sell the product without knowing what they need. You have to first create and determine the need before you can sell anyone anything. Don’t try to sell the prospect without knowing what they want. And don’t try to sell them by cramming info down their throats (faster, cheaper, better-buy us now). This comes from selling from fear and shame. Fear of rejection and the shame you sometimes feel from cold calling.
On a sheet of paper write down the five most important questions you’d want to ask a prospect before meeting with them. Think of it this way-what info do you want to gather from these prospects? Try to make them as open ended as possible. Don’t worry if all of them aren’t because sometimes you can’t get around a yes or no answer. Next, prioritize the questions so that your first two questions set the tone, direction and pace of the conversation.
1. Would you be open to accepting quotes within the next 1-3 months? (more on this later)
2. Do you have a budget for these services or time frame for making a purchase? Or will you be putting a budget together in the near future?
3. Do you handle these services in-house or do you vendor it out?
4. Can you tell me about the project that you’ll be accepting bids on?
5. Can you tell me about your previous experience for bidding out this type of project?
Now that you have your five questions –prioritize them in order of importance. What would you like to know from the prospect first? Keep in mind that you need to have the first two questions flow seamlessly from your intro which is why prioritizing them helps. Think of your questions in terms of how a lawyer builds a case. You must first get information and then “lead” the prospect into the decision to meet with you. Probing is really about determining whether you and the prospect are a good fit for doing business.