Questioning takes courage, instinct and tremendous risk. Smart questioning skills can immediately capture control of the call, qualify and build trust. Having a strong qualification criteria helps you gather information, probe deeper and guide your prospect through the call with a focused plan. In this video, we'll introduce you to the foolproof Smart Selling Qualification plan that includes the eight criteria to ask with sample questions to use when identifying a potential opportunity.
- One of the biggest skills inside sales people can master is their questioning and qualifying techniques, especially since so much of an inside sales person's role is based on how well they qualify potential leads and opportunities. For some, qualifying just means calling on a lead and asking if they have a project or budget and timeframe. For others, qualifying a lead means finding if they have a driving need to buy your solution.
It's all of these and much more. Questioning is the most important sales skill. If done correctly, it moves your sale forward, but if not, you can distance and eventually lose your prospect. Smart salespeople know how to build relationships by formulating their questions and having a strategic questioning plan. That's right. I'm suggesting you have an actual questioning plan.
I'd like to introduce you to a qualification criteria or I call it the trust criteria because when you ask the right questions, you'll immediately build trust. The way it works is to include eight categories in your questioning plan. No matter what vertical or industry you're calling into, these categories are the same and will apply to all. And be very careful because the categories must be asked in the right order.
I say this because too often a call is lost because the sales rep jumped the gun on their questions and the prospect refused to engage. Let's dive into these categories and explain why they are so important to ask. The first one is the current environment. This is the first category to ask because it focuses on your prospect's current environment and takes a snapshot of their internal world.
This is the safest place to start your qualification journey because it talks about what they have in place. For example, in the high-tech industry, you might ask questions such as, "Can you tell me about your current systems "and how many users you have? "What applications are you using on the network?" The second category is business needs. This category focuses on their needs and challenges. What pains are they experiencing? Questions might sound something like this, "In what way can you improve what you currently have?" or "What type of growing pains are you experiencing?" The third category is decision-making process.
You've got to know who you're gonna speak with early in the qualification process and determine the decision-making structure. Questions will usually sound like this, "Can you walk me through your decision-making process?" or "What's your role in the decision-making process?" The fourth area is decision-making criteria. Once you know their decision-making process, focus your questions on the criteria that has been established for the project.
Questions will usually sound like this, "How will you measure each vendor? "What will you base a decision on?" The fifth area is competition. Too many deals are lost because the salesperson failed to ask or was afraid to know the answer to this all-important question. Get into the habit of asking about competition and reduce any surprises you must get along the way. Questions usually sound like this, "Where are you in your research process?" or "What other vendor solutions do you have in-house?" The sixth category is time frame.
Sales happen when the timing is right. The timing is one of the hardest things to predict. Questions will usually sounds like this, "Can you walk me through your timeline "from research to implementation?" or "When would you like to be up and running?" The seventh category is budget. Ask questions to help you determine if there is even a budget and how much they have allocated for this project. Questions will usually sound like this, "How does the budgeting process work "within your organization?" or "What type "of dollars have been allocated for this project?" And the last category, eighth category, is next steps.
Wait, don't hang up until you've articulated the next steps. Remember that you want to move the sale forward. Before you leave this call, make sure that you and the prospect are on the same page by locking in the same action steps. Questions will usually sound like this, "Where do we go from here? "What other departments would you recommend I contact?" Are you ready to take your questioning challenge? Use this criteria on your next calls when you're qualifying your prospects.
Stick to the order and move quickly from one category to the next.
- Understanding the qualities of successful inside sales pros
- Using the right sales tools
- Social selling with LinkedIn
- Improving your response rate
- Building a foolproof qualification plan
- Getting past gatekeepers
- Handling objections
- Closing the sale