Since I am a total proponent for the Questioning Model in Sales, how do you use this model to learn the Information you need to successfully make the B2B sales?
Obviously, you use questions during your discovery process as you want the prospect or customer doing most of the talking. Their answering questions allows you to learn about what is going on within their organization.
Note: even the very best b2b sales superstar is NOT an insider for the prospect or customer company. While it is important to have a coach or champion who wants you to win the account, not all the time will you have this person in place. And, sometimes (this has definitely happened to me) your inside champion leaves or is promoted away from your target area.
Now what do you do?
You plan your questions carefully to uncover the answers to several important pieces of information.
Here are ten areas you need to have clear and definitive answers before moving forward into any form of presentation or closing activity.
Ten Questions to Resolve with a Prospect
- Does this organization fit your market and ideal customer profile?
- Can your solution actually fix their problem or concerns?
- Will their Return be greater than the cost of your solution?
- How far into the Buying Cycle is the Prospect?
- Does a Budget exist now or will someone have to create a budget item?
- Are the Top Level Executives on board relative to the Importance of fixing this problem.
- Will the Senior Level Executives need to be involved due to major changes in their organization with your solution?
- Who or What is your major obstacle for success with this account?
- Do you know who the blockers are to your solution?
- Are there Political Issues within the organization which could limit or slow down your project?
So, let’s review each point with more detail…
1. You need to determine if the prospect matches your Ideal Customer Profile. This is used to improve both the percentages of success and the ultimate profitability of the relationship. If there is absolutely no match then it is more important to find another account with a clear match to the ideal. This is especially true since you can only trade your time for the possibility of success. Pick the wrong target and your return on time invested will be negative.
2. Here the match we are looking for actually deals with identifying the real problem (not the symptom) and knowing our solution will fix their problem. If there is no match here it is actually better for your long term success to recommend someone else to fix their problem. At first this not seem logical, yet, it positions you as a true expert who wants the customer to win. You will be top of mind for all future problems and inquires.
3. Here you want to make certain there is a positive Return on Investment for the customer. As a consultative b2b sales person, you exist for positive ROI numbers for the higher level executives. Positive ROI keeps you in every game with this customer.
4. Knowing exactly where the customer or prospect is in their buying cycle allows you to match your sales process with them. A major problem for too aggressive b2b sales people is getting out of sync with the buyer. In most cases the b2b sales person has gone through their entire b2b sales process before the prospect even recognizes a need for a purchase. Don’t laugh it happens all the time. Then there is nothing left for the b2b sales person to negotiate with as they have given every thing too early.
5. Knowing if there is a budget shows the prospect is serious and the possibility for success is real. Also, knowing who has the budget is helpful in knowing who the stakeholders will be for the sales process. No budget makes the sales process more complex and delayed decisions are more common.
6. Are the Top Level or C-Level Executives on board for this b2b sales opportunity? Knowing how far up the corporate ladder this project goes is an excellent barometer of the importance attached to the project. If the Executives are not involved there is a greater possibility of commodity buying or NO decision being made. No decisions have been my biggest obstacle to many sales opportunities and the research shows this happens in 35% of potential new sales projects.
7. The more change to the organization, people reductions, or process redesign – the more the high level executives MUST be involved for your success. These high level executives are the only people in the organization who can cut through the red tape and stalling tactics used by people who are afraid of change.
8. Knowing Who or What will stand in your path to success is important for you to develop both a strategic pathway for your success or having contiguity plans if and when you hit major resistance to your ideas or solution. Creativity is useful to making success happen in your marketplace.
9. Like your champion, other competitors will have their champions working for their solution. These people then become the blockers to your success. Knowing this, you can look for clues as to who is resisting your solution or pushing a different spec or type of solution to others. And, sometimes they just want to keep things the way they are today without any change. These people are negative influences. Identify these blockers as soon as possible and develop strategies for dealing with them in a positive manner.
10. This is most explosive due to the emotional nature of politics and the reacts created. Identify the power brokers within the prospect company and by asking several people similar questions you can learn if there are political issues involved with your b2b sales objective. Power, Power who has the power becomes your mission of discovery. While I am not a fan of political games, it is a reality in most corporations. Therefore, learn as much as you can about who actually has the power and work this person or group into your sales plan.
There you have 10 Questions to answer to discover the information you need to move or advance the sales process. Few b2b sales opportunities will just land in your lap, you need to earn your rewards using a system and process to discover the answers to the top ten items influencing your b2b sales success.