September is Customer Appreciation Month for Hoover’s, a sister company of AllBusiness.com. In support of this, Hoover’s has identified a theme for each of the four weeks of the month which I’ll be blogging about. Here’s the schedule.
Wk 1: Prospecting (9/8-9/12)
Wk 2: Qualifying (9/15-9/19)
Wk 3: Presentation Skills and Closing the Sale (9-22-9/26)
Wk 4: Overcoming Objectives (9/29-10/3)
Now that we’re in week two, below are some qualifying questions you can use during the next conversation you have with a prospect. Remember, it’s not just any question but defined, well crafted questions that are going to act as the conduit to more qualified prospects and more sales.
While many salespeople would use questions that qualify their prospects to determine whether or not they are a viable candidate for their product or service, uncovering a true fit between you and your prospects goes much deeper.
There are actually two distinct types of questions: First, there are fact finding questions. These questions relate specifically to your industry and product or service. These fundamental questions provide you with the information you need to uncover whether this prospect is even someone who would purchase what you sell. These questions would uncover the following information. Do they currently have a similar solution you offer. Is your solution a complement or replacement to what they are currently doing? Is the company the right size, offers the right product or service, is the right industry, has the right type and number of employees?
Second, there are those decision oriented questions that move the sales process forward and motivate your prospect to make a decision or want to buy from you. These discovery questions will enable you to uncover how they go about making a purchasing decision, the cost of not making any changes as well as create the urgency for the prospect to make a decision.
Keep in mind when executed correctly, these questions will facilitate a natural conversation, rather than a “pitch.” As you read the questions that follow, remember, it’s a give and take. You’re not interrogating them, but having a conversation to learn how you can best assist them based on their goals and objectives, uncover the process they honor when making a decision and whether or not there’s even a fit.
Finally, look at these questions like a big buffet. Take what you like and what works for you and leave what you don’t.
1. Tell me about your goals and what you are looking for. What would make this relationship successful for you?
2. What are some of the benefits you are looking to gain as a result of (changing venders/providers, equipment, etc.)?
3. What is the most important factor to you in making this decision?
4. Since all of my customers have their own unique needs I want to make sure I tailor the information that I will share with you around what is appropriate for you. Just so I don’t sound repetitive, what do you already know about our company? OR How familiar are you with the types of products and options that are out there in the industry?
5. Is what you are currently doing/using generating the results you’re looking for? How is it working for you?
6. What else are you looking to accomplish if you were to change venders/providers?
7. What would you need to know about us that would confidently make us your first choice? What are you looking for in the company you choose to work with? What is important to you? How do you decide on who to use? Based on what criteria?
8. What information can I provide that would give you the peace of mind in knowing that we are the right company for you?
9. Did you have a good experience with (your current service provider, etc.)? Any bad ones?
10. Is that the only other option you’re still considering?
11. I want you to know that whether or not you choose us, I want to make sure that you have all of the information you need to make the best decision. So how this decision is typically made?
12. Who else is typically involved in this decision?
13. When are you planning on making this decision?
14. How long have you been thinking about making this change?
15. How do you normally go about making a decision like this? What’s the process?
Decision Oriented Questions
1. If you could eliminate three of your biggest problems, headaches, or stresses as they relate to [STATE SERVICE/TASK] what would they be? (If there were three problems that you would want to see resolved with your current service provider what would they be?) (Ineffective solution, frustration, stress, etc.)
2. How does this (current problem, headache) affect you and your life? (Tie in the challenges they are experiencing to their position. What’s their personal cost as a result of these challenges?)
3. If you don’t make any changes, then what do you think it’s going to cost you over time? (What is it going to cost you by not changing? What additional opportunities do you think you’re letting pass by? How will this affect your bottom line?
4. Do you think there are opportunities you may miss out on by not changing? What cost do you incur by keeping things the way they are?)