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Danny Wood Enterprises, L.L.C. | Rutherford, NJ | 201-842-0055

Prospecting & Qualifying

Too often, we box ourselves into situations when we fall into the trap of answering questions a prospect poses … and we quickly find that we have reached a premature, and usually unnecessary, dead-end in the conversation. The key to avoiding this outcome lies in recognizing that prospects rarely ask the "real" question up front. In order to understand the true intent behind the question, it is usually necessary to ask several questions. In general, it takes about three questions to uncover what’s really driving what we’re being asked.

Determine a prospect’s budget using a questioning technique called “bracketing.” By suggesting a dollar range such as between $30,000 and $45,000, you can identify what amount the prospect is willing to pay for your product or service. With a range in mind, you can continue strategic questioning to uncover the real number and what the solution is worth to the prospect.

Salespeople describe on a regular basis how they spend 5 - 20 hours a week preparing proposals for business they are hoping to get. However, most of the time their efforts are unsuccessful.

Why are we compelled to provide proposals when our gut tells us we are wasting our time? Let's explore some of the reasons we feel inclined to provide proposals.

The “stripping line” is a sales technique taken from experienced anglers. They understand that they’ll have a better chance of hooking the fish if they don’t yank the line at the first nibble. Instead, they strip some line from the reel and create slack. The fish then pulls the bait deeper in the water and, feeling more secure, swallows it—and the hook. You can use this technique to get clarity on what’s really happening in the buyer’s world. Here’s how.

How many times have you thought a sale was closed only to have the prospect call you, or leave you a voicemail, text, or email message, cancelling or delaying the order? All that hard work … and at the eleventh hour the prospect backs out of the deal. Another commission killed by buyer’s remorse!

Guess what? That doesn’t have to happen. There is a proven process for eliminating buyer’s remorse. It’s called the Post-Sell Step.

Many salespeople believe that they should respond to all proposal requests that come across their desks where the scope of the work falls within the capabilities of their companies. It’s easy to see the allure. Working on an opportunity that “fell out of the sky” is far more desirable than “beating the bushes” to turn up an opportunity.

Desirable, yes. But, is it smart?

The technique of answering a question with a question, or reversing, is particularly effective in the early phases of a discussion with a prospective buyer. Keep yourself out of conversational boxes and gain a much clearer understanding of the emotional intent behind prospect’s questions.

Excellent salespeople recognize that stellar results are only achieved by implementing their well-honed skills within the framework of well-designed systems. They continually strive to improve and perfect the strategies and processes they employ. For them, nothing is left to chance. They have elevated the tasks of initiating relationships, supporting relationships, asking questions, analyzing customers’ and prospects’ requirements, and crafting and presenting best-fit solutions to an art form. And they are all about process improvement.

Perhaps the easiest way to avoid wasting time with questionable opportunities is to be more selective about which ones you allow to enter the pipeline in the first place. A more stringent “pre-pipeline” screening step may be worth considering. What are the criteria for entering that active phase of your pipeline?

Salespeople often feel they must present complex solutions & proposals believing the perceived valued is greater or to justify to cost. Not necessarily so. Simple, well-organized, and concise solutions are easier for the prospect to connect with.

For some salespeople, the vagueness of their initial prospect meetings carries through to their eventual presentations. They fail to establish clear connecting links between the elements of their proposed offer and the specific aspects of the prospect’s requirements. Instead, their presentations focus too narrowly on their product or service, their company’s capabilities, and in some cases, on themselves.

If prospects don’t learn anything new by meeting with you, are you contributing any real value to the meeting? No. And, if you’re not contributing any real value to the meeting, will prospects have compelling reasons to do business with you? Again, the answer is “No.”

When you first meet with a new prospect, how do you position your product or service? How do you characterize its various features, functions, and advantages? What motivates people to buy? The prevalent theory is that people buy to either gain pleasure…or avoid pain.