We need to formulate sales questions that help us understand what has prevented the prospect from addressing the insights we have mentioned before. Learn how to identify the sales "iceberg."
- When you're meeting with a prospect, it's imperative to first understand and describe an issue your prospect should be considering, and bring this issue to the forefront based on insights you provide. Next, you must personalize and quantify the impact, which is putting some real dollars and cents around the issue. And then the invasiveness, which helps uncover the greater impact a decision or a lack of decision will have on the prospect in their organization. Now we're moving to our final i in our questioning arsenal, which I call the iceberg.
Icebergs in natural are pretty amazing. They can range from ice cube sized chunks to ice islands that are the size of a small country. As we all know, they can represent a tremendous danger to ships, as a lot of people unfortunately found out on a cold night in 1912. Well, they represent such a danger that they determine what course a ship will take as it travels to its destination. In business, figurative icebergs impact which direction a company may take when making decisions. What do I mean by this? As we share insights with our prospects, and then start to establish the issues and impact through our earlier questioning, we start to build a case for a prospect to make a decision to buy our product.
However, we in sales know that we don't always get the deal. None of us have 100% closing percentages. The reason is that there's a barrier, or iceberg, to a prospect making a decision. In my experience, these fall into one of three main categories. The first we will tackle is knowledge. See, this is an interesting one. Prior to us sharing some insights with them, they may not have had any knowledge that a problem even existed. Or, if they did, it might be that they saw the results of the problem, and not what was causing the issue.
See, that's a good situation to be in as a salesperson, so don't let this one scare you. The fact that you shared something with them that they weren't aware of is great for establishing your credibility. When knowledge is the iceberg, the more insightful and knowledgeable you are, the more trust and credibility you build with your prospect. Next, let's talk about time. They may not have had time to deal with the issues that you've provided. This likely means that they have not felt that a big enough priority to devote their resources to fixing it.
The good news is that you have now validated the impact of this issue to their organization, and if you've done this well, it's likely moving up their priority list. Remember, if you haven't helped the prospect quantify the real impact of the problem, they may still feel little urgency to challenge their own motivation to solve it. Resources is the final of the three categories of icebergs, and can often be either money, or the people necessary for them to address the situation. This is typically a great opportunity for you as a salesperson, because you can likely help fix the issues and provide some resources to help.
It's important that we uncover these icebergs, because these will be the foundation for potential future objections as we move through the sales process. It's great to start addressing them proactively. Think of yourself as an icebreaker ship, moving through the field of ice while your prospects follow safely behind. So how do we ask questions that uncover these icebergs? One of my favorites is to simply ask, "What programs do you currently have in place to address," and then insert the first issue, "now?" In all likelihood, you're going to hear answers such as, "Well, we haven't addressed this yet." That would be knowledge.
Or, "We've talked about doing this," "but we had some other things" "that we needed to address first." That would be time. Or, "You know, we haven't been able to" fill in the blank, that's probably resources. By the time we've addressed all of these four i's with our prospect, the issue, impact, invasiveness, and iceberg, we can truly say that we have a good understanding of our prospect's business, their challenges to the business, through the use of great business questioning techniques.