How to qualify your sales prospects

salesman thinking about questions to ask
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The mistake that is most common throughout the sales industry is that, sale consultants think they know what their clients want rather than ask. By asking the right questions you will not only uncover your clients buying strategy but most importantly find out if you can deliver on what they are looking for.

It is a lot easier to deliver what the client wants in your product or service than it is to guess or assume. If you identify your clients need, you will then be able to simply deliver that to them, saving you both time, money and improving the experience.

To do this we need to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and think the way they do. The best part of this exercise is: you don’t have to be a physic to do it. You see as human beings when we go to buy a product/service we are always thinking: what’s in it for me (WIIFM). How will I benefit?

And this is where 95% of sales people go wrong, they assume that they know what their client wants in order to be interested rather than ask. By making this assumption, you run the risk of talking about things that the client has no interest in, there by losing that client forever.

We live in a fast paced society; customers are out there and ready to buy, mainly because they have little time to shop around. If you can’t give them what they want and don’t spark their interest they will go to someone who can, and they’ll do so quickly.

So what is the best way to find out what a client wants? You ASK questions! But not just random questions; you want to ask questions which are going to give you the information necessary to know their formula and the reasoning behind it.

There are several questions you can ask, but after continuous testing the one that has produced the best results throughout my time in sales is the following question:

When looking for a …………. (product/service) what would need to happen for you to know …………… (product/service) is the right one for you?

When you ask this question, the customer will outline for you the criteria they need to meet in their mind in order to purchase from you.

For example:

Let’s say for instance you are a car salesman, and you want to figure out what your clients are looking for in a car. You proceed by asking them:

You: Mr Jones; when looking for a car, what would need to happen for you to know which car is the right one for you?

Client: Well to be satisfied with my purchase I would need:

  1. It to be black
  2. Have air conditioning
  3. Power steering
  4. Low on fuel and Km’s
  5. And most importantly have a good engine

At this point you have uncovered what Mr Jones wants in a car, so your job now is to figure out whether you can fulfil his needs. If you can, then you have a deal, so go right ahead and assume the sale. If you can’t, be respectful and let him know upfront that this is not something you can help him with.

Ok; now that you know you can deliver on the client’s needs, you want the clients to convince themselves on why they should buy from you rather than have you sell them. Let’s face it; no one likes to be sold, but we do like to buy and feel like we made the right choice, rather than having been pushed or pressured into it by the salesperson.

The way to do is through a strategic process I call: Reversing A Sale.

Reversing a sale is when you qualify the client by asking a series of well thought questions, that, when answered, not only takes away the objections a client might have, but also allows the client to tell you why they should have your product.

By using this angle, as a salesperson you benefit in the following ways:

  • Authority Figure: Rather than asking for the sale you now get to approve the sale. This puts you in a far more powerful position.
  • No Rejection: By first qualifying clients, you’ll never be rejected by a client again.
  • Objections: By getting rid of objections throughout the qualification process, your client will have more interest in your product/service, and your close ratio will be much higher as a result.
  • Fewer refunds: Because the clients sell themselves on why they should have your product/service, they are also less likely to seek a refund.
  • No Emotional Attachment: Using the qualification process allows you to avoid any emotional attachment on the outcome of the sale.

One of the biggest barriers to making sales these days is the ability to handle objections throughout the sales process. By qualifying clients you will dramatically reduce the number of objections you handle, along with making the entire sale process a lot smoother for both you and your client.

In early 2010, I started consulting for a company called QC Seminars, an events company that offers wealth creation and NLP seminars and products.

After doing a bit of research, I found out the main objections they regularly faced when speaking with clients were:

  1. No Time
  2. Not Interested

Knowing this; I than structured the following questions so that when the salespeople spoke to potential clients they eliminated these objections, qualified clients and therefore increased sales and conversion rates.

Questions asked:

  1. Given that there are limited spots left in our scholarship rate, you do need to qualify; have you got two minutes to quickly go through the process?
  2. Ok, so how interested are you in doing NLP? And why?
  3. If you were to qualify, would you be 100% committed to the dates?
Alex Pirouz

Alex Pirouz

By doing this, we were able to produce over 1300 sales over a two-month period, which brought in revenue of over $2.5 million dollars. Creating a qualification process is not a one-day job, where you quickly put something together. To create a successful process, you are required to do sufficient research on your target market, as well as continuous testing and measuring.

Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd


Published On: 10th Mar 2011

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