It's one of the most frustrating situations in sales — you spend days or weeks engaging with the prospect, emailing and calling, answering questions and supplying information, only to receive radio silence when it comes time to seal the deal. It's a common problem, as studies show that up to 55 percent of sales time is spent on unproductive prospecting. To avoid this highly undesirable scenario, consider asking the prospect the following questions.
How do You Feel About Our Conversation?
Break the ice with a forward, straight-to-the-point question such as this one. It invites the prospect to open up and engage with you on more real level, and based on the person's reaction, you can gauge whether this opportunity is going to be worth your time and effort. A vague, clipped response may indicate a lack of interest or bad timing; if you get a detailed answer with lots of follow-up questions, chances are good that the prospect has a genuine interest in your proposal.
Would You Please Share Your Process for Reviewing Proposals?
This question provides the much-needed insight to make an informed decision during the proposal process. Depending on how detailed the prospective customer is with his answer, you could determine exactly what kind of timeline to expect when waiting on a decision. This gives you added ammunition for when you need to follow up — you can use customer-given information to remind him of the opportunity or plan another meeting.
What do You Like Most About Our Product or Service?
This is an effective way to gauge a prospect's genuine interest in becoming a loyal customer without scaring the person away. Rather than listen to a pushy salesperson rattle off 10 reasons why he should buy, you're giving the prospect the floor, and the chance to share with you the reasons why he'd give you a shot. It's a technique not often practiced, and the prospect is likely to appreciate the break.
Who Else Might Be Involved in the Decision-Making Process?
Oftentimes, salespeople may spend weeks grooming a prospect, only to discover the person they've been engaging with doesn't have decision-making power. To avoid a monumental waste of time and resources, try to coax this information out of the prospect early, so you know exactly who to reach out to. Ask this question with tact; the last thing you want is to offend the person you're dealing with by making it seem as if he is insignificant.
Asking pointed, qualifying questions such as these helps prevent wasted sales time by encouraging your customer to reveal his real feelings about your company and its products or services. The more you know about the prospect's true feelings and attitudes, the greater the likelihood of closing the deal and turning a good prospect into a loyal customer.
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