It happens all the time.
A sales person’s closing ratio needs improvement. He spends several weeks polishing up presentation skills but doesn’t improve his results.
Often, the real problem has nothing to do with closing. Rather, it has everything to do with not qualifying prospects. Once someone gets out of the habit of qualifying, it’s difficult to start again.
The result is presentations scheduled with people who can’t make buying decisions.
Here are six critical qualifying questions every salesperson can benefit from asking. If you begin using these qualifying questions today you will close more sales with fewer presentations.
1. What are the prospect’s needs that you can meet?
This question is more important than whether the prospect is a decision maker. Clarify early on whether the need for your product exists in any capacity. If not, there will be no sale in the future even if you negotiate with the CEO.
2. Does the prospect have the budget to purchase what you’re selling?
The bigger the product or service, the less likely a small company can afford it. Even for a mid-size company, it’s important to know how much money the prospect budgets for you’re offering.
You can get a feel for where the prospect’s price range is buy asking if they have a current vendor or if they’ve ever used services like yours in the past.
3. When is the prospect looking to make a buying decision?
A salesperson sometimes spends months waiting while a prospect stalls. In many cases, the prospect is contractually obligated to another supplier or is waiting for some other deadline to pass.
It is good to know the prospect’s timeline for making a buying decision. You will save time on follow-up and create your own timeline for the closing the sale. You can also work with the prospect to see if there’s anything that can be done to expedite the process.
4. Who will make the final decision?
In many cases the final decision may not made by the prospect you’re dealing with. Many decision makers expect their department heads to come to them with recommendations for major purchases.
By knowing who makes the final decision, you can start to probe for more information about what factors will influence that person’s decision.
5. Who are the key players and do they influence the decision?
There are several periphery prospects in most buying decisions including end users, departmental personnel, and committee members. All of them play a crucial role in the decision-making process.
Learning who they are and how the decision impacts them will help you line up and prioritize your selling points. A benefit isn’t a benefit unless it solves one of the prospect’s problems.
6. Have you contacted more than one prospect in the company?
It’s in your best interest to speak to as many people as possible who will benefit from your offering at your target company. Tell your primary contact you want to gather more information so you know which solution works best for everyone.
Chances are each person will provide you with useful tips. It’s up to you to qualify each of them and move forward toward the sale.