One mistake I see a number of b2b sales people do is asking simple questions a prospect can answer without any thought. Really, they go on auto pilot – usually because every reasonably trained b2b sales person will ask the same type of question.
An example of these “simple” questions are the knee jerking…
What problems are keeping you up at night these days? Or worst, how many plants do you have now? Or, is your current vendor / supplier meeting all your needs?
These questions do not get the prospect thinking about anything other than a knee jerk response usually at a minimum information flow to you. The other point – and more important point – is it shows you have done NO HOMEWORK regarding this prospect.
So what do you do?
You ask combo questions.
These combo questions are designed to show you have done your due diligence (homework) about their company. So part of the question is actually a statement showing your expertise and knowledge of their current situation.
The second part of the question is designed as a true question – one that causes the prospect to think before responding or even making a choice. These questions get the prospect engaged in the process and help you gain more credibility as a knowledgeable sales person with experience.
An example of combo statement/question is…
In reviewing your current supply process I noticed your goals for next year is to increase efficiency in your supply chain process to lower your costs by 5%. What processes are you currently considering to achieve this goal?
Currently I see you have six plants across the United States – is that correct? Are there any plans to consolidate your resources or plants during this economic downtown? What will be the impact upon your division if a consolidation occurs? What type of contingency plans are you currently developing?
Personally I know when I’m doing a great job with the quality of my questions especially when the prospect tells me “You have really made me think during our visit.” or “you’re good at asking me tough questions which make me focus upon what is going on in my area.” These types of statements are only validating the quality of your questions.
In summary, take time to first do you homework regarding a targeted account. Note any press releases about expansion or consolidation plans. Also, take note of what strategies, objectives or initiatives their executive team has committed to do during a specific time period.
Then, craft a list of questions to ask your contact. This list should include questions that will force your contact to think about their current situation, issues they could have or choices they will need to make in the coming months. Be sure to create combo statement / questions to gain more credibility with the contact.
Then enjoy your new account relationship and move down the sales process. Winning the account is more important than any short term sale. So make your offering enticing to the buyer or decision maker.