We’ve all been there, Friday night, 6:08 p.m., before a 3-day weekend, shiny new pen in one hand, empty tin cup in the other. Deal gone, and with it, three weeks of hard work and the prospect of three more hitting the bricks, hoping to get something going before the quarter, and your meal ticket, ends.
Strong numbers and steady growth are like trying to nail Jello to the wall.
Don’t take it personally, don’t blame the economy, your client’s procurement process, their APAC Director, illuminati, the CIA, bad genes or your boss. Your questions sucked, and if you practiced & used better questions, you would have saved time, and a round-trip up the wrong tree. (Been there myself, I feel your pain).
Proper study of questions, role-playing, and research will help you to:
Stop “acting” like you are selling something, so you can be yourself and confident.
Keep quiet and have the CLIENT talk most of the time.
Qualify the buyer, build rapport, and close more deals.
- Speed up the process (whichever way it ends up going) by being brave and breaking any silent pauses.
Here are some questions that you can use as is, or use for role-playing when preparing to meet clients, that I have found to be useful.
- Find the economic buyer: The person with the “the trigger” and correct finger. If the person you are talking to has to ask “Daddy,” they are not the economic buyer.
-- Who has initiated this request for service/product purchase/new hire? -- Whose budget will pay for this project/service/product? -- Do we need anyone else’s approval? -- Who can immediately approve this project/budget/expenditure? -- If you and I were to agree on deliverables/delivery date/start date, could we/he/she begin tomorrow?
- Find the budget range: No, we won’t be “crossing that bridge when we get there” because “we” can’t swim that far. These questions will help you to get closer to what number the economic buyer actually has.
-- In the interest of your time, is there a fixed range to work within? -- What are the expected results of this investment? -- How much are you prepared to invest to gain these (outline) results?
- One way or the other, CLOSE IT: Signing the deal and moving forward, or dropping it, and getting on with other deals.
-- Once you have the right proposal, how soon can we start? -- Is there anything preventing us to work together? -- Can we start the project this week/deliver this month Friday? -- Can I start preliminary meetings with managers onsite this afternoon?
There is a reason why a question has a hook in it; it’s to get the “point.” Questions will give you confidence and help you to speed up the sales process, saving both your clients and you time.
The writer is managing director of Smart Partners KK, a company that offers sales training, consulting, business strategy and financial planning advice.© Japan Today