When talking with salespeople I’m always amazed at the fact that most believe that they “know” why their prospect should buy their product or service.
In discussing this further I have found that this is not based on any real understanding of the individual prospect, but rather seems to stem mostly from the «viewpoint» of the sales person. There are many reasons why the prospect should buy your product or service, that’s for sure, but why this particular prospect?
Personally I always ask myself the following questions:
- “Why would this potential prospect want to use my product or service?»
- «How will my product or service change or improve their business or their life?»
This is an integral part of developing a relationship with your client for life. Remember your success is based on that client continuing to use your product or service, recognizing the benefits they have experienced, telling their friends and colleagues all about its attributes, and you.
8 ways to find out what your prospect is really thinking:
1. After establishing initial contact, find out the following:
What interested your prospect in your product or service in the first place?
Something caused them to decide to contact you. You must find out what that is. Ensure you thoroughly find this out. You have to be good at getting them to tell you all about their initial interest. Be aware of answers such as “my friend referred me,” or «I saw your ad or promotion,” as you need more detail about what their real interest is.
2. After finding out their initial interest then ask the following:
«How long have you been thinking about or been interested in a product or service such as ours?»
This is a great question because it gives you the opportunity to really delve further. For example, if they have been thinking about it for several years then use this follow up question: “Was there a reason you didn’t move forward when you first found yourself being interested?” And then, “What then changed that caused you to take action now?” This can flush out a recent event that makes their need more urgent.
3. Next find out about any previous experiences:
A great question is, “Have you ever had a product or service similar to this in the past?” or, “Do you currently have a product or service that’s like this?” What we want to know here is what they like and don’t like about their current or past experiences with a similar product or service. Another great question is, “Based on your past or current experience, what would you change or improve?”
4. Find out about the prospects understanding of the financing involved or the budget:
You need to get some idea from your prospect about their understanding of what your product or service is going to cost. If they have had previous similar experiences they most likely have an idea, but you must still get them to tell you this information. Also, if they have been interested for a long time, find out if they know how much something like this costs in today’s marketplace. You must get an idea of what they are thinking.
A great time to ask this is at the end of the call, after having discussed their interest and getting their contact details. Just after setting the next appointment, you can say “…before I forget, did you have an idea of how much you wanted to spend on this product or service?» This works well as the prospect was expecting to just complete the call, and you have now caught them at a point where they are willing to just go ahead and tell you this information. If you do it too early in the initial contact, it will not work.
5. After gaining their understanding of what they think the cost is, ask the following:
«Do you already have a plan in place to pay for the product or service?» This will tell you how motivated and organized they are in their ability to move forward. If they have the financing worked out then you are just selling your product or service against the competition and you can then focus on how to best do that.
6. Knowing your competition is key:
You must find out about any competition you might have. This can be a simple question such as: “Have you researched any other companies similar to ours?” If the answer is yes, the immediate follow up would be: “What did you like or dislike about what they had to offer?” This is critical information to your overall strategy. I talk with too many salespeople who do not want to bring this up for fear of the prospect possibly going to a competitor. You MUST know this information as you do not want to find out, when it’s too late, that you had competition looming in the wings. You must know this right up front so you can plan to handle it.
7. Find out who exactly is involved in the purchasing decision:
Focus on this from the beginning. Are there additional decision makers in the purchase process? How does their internal process work? This might include a board of directors in a larger sale, a partner in a smaller business, or a spouse. Regardless, you definitely do not want to wait to find out this vital piece of information.
8. Is your initial contact fully closed?
Many times you get to the close and the prospect wants to talk it over with a senior, a partner or a spouse. This happens all too often. Hopefully, you have asked the questions above and have anticipated this. Your key here is to NOT let this go until you have the answer to one question: “If you were making the decision by yourself, would you move forward?” And as a follow up question if they answer yes: “What are the key reasons you would move forward?” If the answer is no, use a follow up question such as: “What are the reasons causing you to not move forward at this time?” It’s vital that you know this information before taking the next step and closing the sale.
There you go, 8 ways to gather information on what your prospect is thinking.
There are many more, but my purpose is to get you thinking of ways you can glean as much information as possible on exactly what your prospect is really thinking. Knowing this will increase your closing percentage and allow you to lay the foundation for a lifelong client relationship that will bring you many referrals.
See you next time!