Closing the Sale: Asking Right Questions to Qualify Leads
Any salesperson worth his or her salt knows that qualifying sales leads requires time, patience and a careful process of asking questions.
Sales rookies often jump the gun, asking for the sale too soon, talking about budget too directly, or assuming that the prospect is immediately ready to talk about closing a deal.
Al Davidson, founder of Strategic Sales and Marketing, suggests playing a longer-term game by asking specific follow-up questions to uncover more information, build credibility and deepen your relationship with the prospect.
To help you, Davidson offers three lead qualification questions that can help your sales staff get further into the sales process and maximize your chances of success with every sales prospect on your calling list.
First, was there a compelling event that caused you to request information from us?
“The reason to ask this question is to find out more about the prospect’s reasons for ending up on your list of sales leads,” Davidson writes in a recent Internet post. “If the prospect can clearly identify a compelling event, your sales team can position your product or solution to respond to those circumstances. Link your solutions to the prospect’s specific ‘pain’ issues.”
But he adds that not all prospects have such a clear and visible cause that motivates them to seek out your solution.
“If the prospect does not identify a clear ‘compelling event,’ then your sales team will have to invest some time in educating the prospect to help them recognize the specific problems that they are trying to solve, and show them how your solution can help them,” he says.
Second, what is the most important thing you hope to accomplish by solving this problem?
“Even if a prospect didn’t have a clear event that occurred, causing the motivation to talk with your sales team, they often will have a clearer idea of where they want your solution to take them,” Davidson says. “By asking this question, you can help the prospect visualize what they want to achieve. This is part of the process of helping the prospect understand the benefits of your solution and the ROI that your solution can deliver.”
He believes that the key is to help the prospect think not in terms of “how much they have to pay” but “what they will receive” from your solution.
“Another benefit of asking this qualification question is that it shows your sales team how serious the prospect and his/her organization are about investigating your solution and understanding the value,” Davidson says. “If the prospect doesn’t have a clear answer for what they hope to accomplish, this could indicate that they are not ready to make a purchase or are just doing preliminary price shopping.”
Third, it sounds like you could benefit from our solution. What would you like to see happen as a next step?
“Instead of pushing to close the deal, this question serves to invite the prospect into the sales process by putting the ball in their court,” Davidson says. “You give the prospect the courtesy of allowing them a degree of control over what happens next, and this tactic often helps prospects feel more relaxed and receptive to moving forward in the sales process.
“Asking this kind of question can give your sales team some valuable insight into the customer’s thinking, and see where the customer is in the buying process.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story