Had an interesting discussion with a sales manager last week concerning how to truly qualify a prospect. The sales manager wanted to discuss all the financial issues and demographics of prospects. I listened and asked a few questions, then asked about the role of needs in qualifying a prospect.
Our discussion got a little slower after that question as the sales manager began to think about the role of need in the qualifying process. He began to see just how important needs are in determining a real prospect.
Let’s look into this real life concept and connect a few dots.
First, a need is something or somewhat of a gap between the current reality and their desired reality. Okay, I know that sounds like corporate or coach speak, that I mean is something is missing from the ideal. Thus, a person “needs” something to close the gap. In the real world, then a buyer or decision maker realizes a true “need” for something now – a sense of urgency arises.
Now, their is a difference between a need and want. I may “want” a sports car, yet, I don’t really need it. In this case, the need is not present, so there is no sense of urgency to find and purchase a sports car. Another example is I may want a new software package for my office, yet, if no one can use it due to either knowledge, experience or the technical specifications required to run the software. Then it is a want, yet, I may not need to spend the funds for something I can’t use. Thus, a want with no need.
The key is find prospects who need what you are selling. Therefore, you will observe the types of current customers you serve, make a list of the traits you find – industry, trends, their customer or end user, modern vs old machinery, technology levels and quality of the workforce. Thus, factors or traits will begin to give a profile of customers using your product or service.
Take this list and refine it by discussing with other (particularly the high performers on your team) b2b sales people, the sales manager and even your best customers. This best customer concept is important. When I questioned my best customers about the reasons they used our services – it filled in the answers for recognizing better prospects. These discussions gave me the other side of the story and the reasons why they decided favorable for us.
Also, one area to include in your thought process is your industry experience. What should be happening in companies in the industry you are selling into. What are the trends and best practices. Again, write this information down and prioritize the information. This will help you see the opportunities faster when talking to a prospect.
By the way, in the new world of faster pace selling with time limited decision makers, it is important to show your experience, wisdom about the industry and your insider knowledge. When a decision maker feels you are just like them – your credibility increases ten fold. When this happens, trust and rapport are increased and they will openly listen to your offers or solutions.
However, make certain the buyer needs what you are offering or you will never get a next opportunity. If they feel you are taking advantage of them, you get mentally blackballed. If they don’t need your offering, tell them they would be better off with another solution. This will enhance your reputation with the decision maker so when they do “meed” your product or service, it will not take long for a decision.
In summary, know the difference between needs and wants – nice to have is not a good sales strategy or reason. Make a written list of the traits and unique factors of your best customers, even getting their input into the reasons for buying, prioritize the list and keep it top of mind as you review or research potential prospects. Targeting the best matches and creating a campaign to win the buyer over to you and your solutions. Make b2b selling a fun game and you will win more often.