Ask direct, specific questions that require your prospect to either commit to what’s next, or that get your prospect to reveal that the sale might not go through (I know you hate to hear that, but it’s better to find out sooner rather than later).
Prospects go through many phases before making the final buying decision. Some sales have more phases than others, and there can be many steps involved including evaluating data or demos, going up or down the decision chain, talking with partners, spouses, or others, etc. Whether your process is short or long, your challenge is the same – how do you get buy in and commitment at every phase of the process, thereby allowing you to remain in control of the sale?
The answer is to ask direct, specific questions that require your prospect to either commit to what’s next, or that get your prospect to reveal that the sale might not go through (I know you hate to hear that, but it’s better to find out sooner rather than later). So here’s how you do it:
The first question you need to ask is a definite commitment question at the end of your qualifying call before you send info or gather quotes, etc. If you know you’re dealing directly with the decision maker, then use the question below and customize (adapt) it to fit your specific selling situation:
“Prospect, I’ll go ahead and (get this demo/quote/info off to you) and let me ask you a question. If you can see how this will/can (state the benefits and match them to their specific needs), is this something you will take advantage of (next week or whatever time frame you’ve discussed)?”
Now, if there are many other layers involved, then you need to get specific commitment on what will happen next. So you should say:
“Terrific. I’ll go ahead and get this off to you so you can begin your evaluation process. Let me ask you again: based on what we went over (restate their specific needs and exactly how your product/service fits these), does it sound/look like this might be the solution your company is looking for?” And then,
“What can you see that might get in the way of us moving forward with this?”
You may be thinking that you don’t want to introduce an objection here, and you’re not – what you’re doing is exposing possible Huge Red Flags that will only get worse as you go down the sales process. It’s better to know NOW.
During any phase of the process, it’s crucial that you continue to ask these kind of specific, direct questions. Here are a few that will always help you know where you stand – and what you need to do next:
If they say, “Well, the XYZ department has to look at it now,” you say:
“Great. Does that mean that the “other team’ has approved it?” OR,
“That’s wonderful. How much closer to a decision are we?” Or,
“Who do I need to speak with in that group?” Or,
“And what happens after that?” And,
“If they agree (like it), are we a go?” And,
“What could go wrong there?” And,
“How many other proposals are they looking at?” And,
“Where does ours stand,” Or, “Who are they leaning towards so far?” And,
“Are you still onboard on this?”
As you can see, what all these questions have in common is they require a definite answer. This is something the Top 20% demand to know and that the other 80% are afraid to find out.
If you feel you’ve lost control of the sales process, it’s because you’re not asking the questions that you need to be asking. If that’s the case, then use some of the questions above, take control of the sale, and start closing more business – believe me, it works!
About the author
Mike Brooks is the founder of Mr. Inside Sales, a North Carolina based inside…