How To Execute The Discovery Phase of The Sales Process Effectively Part II

In Part I of How To Execute The Discovery Phase Of The Sales Process, I talked about the importance of asking questions, the type of questions to use, and when to use them.  Now I’m going to go a little deeper into some specific questions you need to ask in the discovery phase.

The whole point of using a sales process is to get the business.  All of the pieces of the sales process have a purpose and fit together.  If you leave out or skip a part of the sales process you dramatically decrease your chances of closing the deal.

For example, a lot of sales people want to know the best way to close a sale.  The truth is: closing a sale should be a natural outcome of the sales process.  However, everything else has to be done correctly before the closing phase of the sales process.

The discovery phase allows you to get the information you need to address the needs and concerns of your prospect.  Then you can prepare a customized solution for your prospect that will differentiate you from the competition.  This increases your probability of getting the business.

In the discovery phase you are gathering as much information as you can about your prospect.  The more you know the better position you are in.  You don’t want to just get random information; you want to know their pain and challenges.  You want to know things that can give you insight into how they will choose which way to go.

There are four main questions you want to ask as part of your discovery process.  These are not the only questions you need to ask, but they are necessary questions for each sales campaign.

The Four Questions are:

1. What criteria will you use to make your decision?

The answer to this question allows you to address the issues that are important to them when you make your proposal.  You will want to customize your proposal to include your prospects decision making criteria.

2. What is your time frame for having a solution in place?

Understanding the time frame before presenting your proposal will almost always eliminate the stall objection.  Also, if the time frame for implementation is too far out you may want to wait before proceeding with the sales process.

3. Who will be involved in the decision making process?

You have to know all of the people that will be involved in the process. You want to make sure you address each of the needs of everyone that will play a role in the decision.

4. What is your budget?

Understanding your prospect’s budget allows you to determine the proper solution.  In some cases it tells you even if you have a valid prospect.  You have to build rapport, creditability, and trust to get the answer to this question.

As I mentioned, the four questions are just a part of the many questions you will ask during the discovery phase.  Remember that the discovery phase is where you should be investing the majority of your time in the sales process.  If you do great job of discovery, your prospect will know that you understand what they need.   You will have more confidence in your solution because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the best solution.

Happy Selling

What it Means to Win The Sales Game

Last week I talked about the mindset it takes to win the sales game.   I said that the mindset you need to have is one that places your prospect’s needs first.  It occurred to me that some might think there is a contradiction if you “win” the sales game and place your prospect’s needs first.  Let’s look at what “Winning The Sales Game” really is.

When you look at selling it appears that there are two sides: the seller and the buyer.  In reality the seller and the buyer are on the same side.  If you place your prospect’s needs first, you are on the buyer’s side helping them get the best solution to their problem.  The problem (could be literally or figuratively) is what you are trying to solve with the buyer.  You are positioning yourself as a trusted advisor for your buyer.  So, there is only one side.

There can however be winners and losers.  There are four entities that can win or lose in each sale.  The four entities are: the selling organization, the buying organization, the buyer, and the sales person.  In order to win the sales game, all four entities have to win.

First, let’s look at the selling organization.  This is the company you represent.  A win for the selling organization means a profitable sale where the organization can deliver what is promised.  This means the deal fits the parameters the organization has set out for a good customer or client.  A “lose” for the selling organization will ultimately result in a “lose” for the buying organization because they will eventually have to change something to make it a win.

A win for the buying organization is when they have the best solution for their problem for the investment they can make.  If they buying organization loses, it will ultimately be a “lose” for the selling organization.

A win for the buyer is when the buyer gets what they need personally out of the sale.  For example, if your product or service allows the buyer to reach his/her targets and they get a bonus.  That’s a win for the buyer.

Lastly, the sales person has to win.  The sales person wins when they get credit or the commission for the sale.  If they make a sale that is below the threshold to get a commission it is a “lose” for them.  Or, if the sale doesn’t count towards their quota, it could be a “lose.”

In order to “Win The Sales Game” everyone has to win.  There really is no contradiction with putting your prospect’s needs first and “Winning The Sales Game.”  While putting the prospect’s needs first the sales person has to take into account all the other needs too.  It is the sales professional’s responsibility to ensure everybody wins.

Create Creditability By Asking The Right Questions

As discussed in our post yesterday on how to establish creditability with a prospect you have to earn the right to continue in the sales process.  The way to establish creditability with a prospect is to demonstrate that you have their best interest in mind.  Asking the right questions is a good way to establish creditability.

A lot of sales people struggle with this because they think that the best way to establish creditability is to tell how great their company is and how great they are.  While this is a part of establishing creditability, consider that before someone is going to listen to how great you or your company is they first want to know that you care about them.  Only after you demonstrate that you care about them will your message about you and your company be really heard by your prospect. Continue reading “Create Creditability By Asking The Right Questions”