One key factor that sets salespeople on the path to success is the ability to find and talk to the right person. Very often, a salesperson will spend significant time and effort on a really well-presented call, only to be met with the classic: “I’ll have to pass this on to the manager who makes the buying decisions.”
Why is this dilemma so common? In most cases, it is simply due to the fact that the salesperson neglected to properly qualify the potential customer.
Today’s consumers are generally well-educated and informed, and this means that you need to be equally prepared and knowledgeable about their needs. For a start, is your prospect worth meeting? Is this person the actual decision maker, or are they just a self-appointed “gatekeeper” who decides which people get to see the boss? Knowing this up front could potentially save you a massive amount of time and effort.
It’s also critical to establish whether the prospect you are calling actually needs your product or service. Yes, we know you can sell ice to the proverbial Eskimo, but ideally your goal is to establish a long-term relationship as opposed to a string of “hit-and-run” sales. The very best outcome is a win-win scenario where you benefit because your customer is delighted and wants to do more business with you. So how do you find out what their needs are?
There are a few simple questions you need to ask to determine the two most important factors in the sales call: Does the potential customer need your product, and can they afford it.
This is a balancing act. You have to get the answers you need without coming across as being pushy. So, one of the best sales call tips is to scale your approach – ask the least invasive questions first, and as you build rapport, get to the important ones. And of course, do this concisely and intelligently.
You can use the concept of “closed” and “open-ended” questions here. An example of a “closed” question is one that invites a yes or no answer, for example: “Am I correctly informed that you’re the manager of XYZ?” An open-ended question might be: “As the manager of XYZ, what do you do when…?”, or “How so?”, or “I see – tell me more!”
If your potential client is clearly busy and wants to cut you short, then start with a few quick yes/no questions, then add one or two open-ended questions. You’ll quickly discern whether they are potentially interested and worth a future follow-up call.
Here are ten useful questions that will make any sales call easier:
1.) What is it exactly that you do?
2.) Are you satisfied with your current service provider?
3.) How does your company make the decision to buy?
4.) How does your company purchase products of this type?
5.) Under what circumstances would you be willing to buy or switch to a new product?
6.) How can I serve you best?
7.) What role do you play in the decision making process?
8.) Is there anything in particular that might get in the way of us doing business together?
9.) Who else in your company should I be following up with?
10.) What will it cost you if your company continues with the way things are today?
The golfer Gary Player once said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Modern business takes place in a highly competitive market. Be willing to get out there, ask those questions, and develop the skill to do it automatically and effortlessly – all while making your potential customers feel comfortable with the process.
So, there’s only one thing left to do: Pick up the phone and make something happen!
Author: Ashley, Chameleon Inside Sales
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