How do you tell great salespeople from the rest of the pack?
The best salespeople are not always the ones with the flashiest cars, or even the ones who ask the best questions. They're the ones with the best answers when you ask them how their deals are coming along.
Courtesy of 3R Sales & Marketing, an Ireland-based sales consultancy, here are six "golden questions" to ask your sales reps.
1. Who is the decision maker?
Your salespeople must know who makes the purchases at each client company. If they're not dealing with the person who actually writes the cheques, they'd better have a plan for getting through to him or her. No deal is safe until the top decision-maker is on board.
2. What is the enablement value?
How much is your product, service or solution actually worth to the prospect? How much money will it save them, or add to their bottom line? Unless your salesperson knows what value this deal creates for the client, how can he or she sell the solution properly? As 3R founder Peter Lawless notes, "If you can't get the client to express the value of ownership of your product or service, in their terms, you just become an annoying cost."
3. What is the timing of the purchase?
When does the client need your solution in place? What happens if they don't get it by then? How much will that cost them? "The key here," says Lawless, "is when and why will your prospect become upset if they did not have your product? Because if it does not really matter that much, you will have problems parting them from their money."
4. What effect might organizational change have on this deal?
What would happen if the people we're dealing with moved jobs or roles? How would that affect the decision-making process? We all know how many different events can upset a deal in the final moments—a sudden incident, executive turnover, a key ally suddenly leaving the company, or even a mega-event such as a merger or acquisition. How are your salespeople monitoring these possibilities? Are they creating robust, parallel relationships within multiple levels of the client company to make sure their deal survives any unexpected turmoil?
5. What external events could affect the sale?
Beyond internal changes, what external factors could disrupt the decision-making process, like changes within the client's largest customers, competitive activity, or any sudden setback in the economy? These factors are tough to anticipate or defend against. But simply understanding your client's vulnerabilities to outside forces can help your sales folks strengthen their pitch and plan for change.
6. Who is our competition?
Do your salespeople know what the competition is offering, and who they're currently talking to? Winning salespeople monitor what their competitors are doing, and already have plans to counter their best arguments. Keep in mind that the biggest competitor is usually clients' choosing to do nothing, so make sure your salespeople know how to win that debate.
Keep asking your salespeople these questions. You'll be closing more deals, and also building a stronger, more proactive and resilient sales team.
Rick Spence is the Toronto-based author of the Canadian Entrepreneur blog and a consultant on marketing, strategy and business growth. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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