In selling, properly qualifying a prospective buyer is crucial in order to move an opportunity through the pipeline and ultimately close in your favor. Highly effective salespeople do this through the art of asking great sales questions and not fearing the outcome if they challenge a prospect’s statement, or question, in order to gain clarity.
In this blog, we cover the 3 things to remember about all prospects and how to fully understand and qualify their motivation to make a change.
Seek to understand, rather than being understood is a very loose paraphrase of what Steven Covey said in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I think that statement is especially true for sales professionals. When we coach our client’s we try to get them to understand and remember these three tips when in conversation with prospects and client’s:
- The statement they make isn’t the actual statement.
- The question they ask isn’t the true question.
- The problem they have isn’t the actual problem.
Your job is to fully understand, is this a symptom or a problem? Problems get solved, symptoms are tolerated. I was working with a prospect and he kept saying he needed to fix his cash flow problem. The more we talked, it became clear that wasn’t the real problem, the real problem was he missed out on an opportunity to purchase one of his competitors. The symptom was cash flow, the problem was missing opportunities to acquire market share. We focused on fixing his true problem. There are many ways a sale can be killed. Too many times sales are killed by Assume-icide. We assume we know what they want. However, we never truly understand the real problem or challenge.
One of the ways, and really the only way, to bring clarity to the conversation is by asking or saying the following when we hear prospects make statements or ask questions:
- Tell me more about that . . .
- What happens if that problem isn’t fixed?
- When you say (insert statement here), I’m not sure I know what you mean.
- Many people ask me that question for a variety of reasons; I would like to hear yours.
We also need to listen to emotionally charged words such as . . .
- Need to fix. .
- I’m going to. .
- We simply can’t tolerate. .
- Others include. . Worried, upset, mad, frustrated
These are emotionally driven words and emotion drives sales. Listen for them! Facts and figures justify sales, but emotion drives it. If we don’t fully understand the reason for the statement, the purpose of the question, or dig deeper to find the real problem, we will waste time and miss opportunities.