Mar 25 2013
The most important – critical in fact – stage of the entire buying/selling cycle is the qualification phase: This is what I call the “traffic-lights” stage. Let me explain ….
All salespeople should be fully skilled in asking a small number of basic questions regarding precise requirements, time scales, budget, competition etc. before they are prepared to reveal their price and delivery.
External salespeople have the opportunity to meet with prospective customers and it is far easier to extract information face to face, than it is via the telephone. However, it is vital that some initial answers are elicited prior to that first exploratory meeting in order to ensure that the meeting will be worthwhile to both parties.
With sales costs spiraling upwards and sales time becoming limited, considerable prudence is required on the part of the salesperson.
During that first meeting, a considerable amount of detail can and should – must – be uncovered – e.g. background and history of the company, the key individuals, the composition of the DMU (Decision Making Unit) if there is one, timescales, budget, competition, current suppliers, buying criteria etc.
Only by rigorous questioning will the salesperson be able to answer the following questions when they get back to the office:
Is there a requirement / need that my company can satisfy?
Is it winnable?
Do I want to win it?
The very best sales professionals will not pursue the opportunity after proper objective analysis, if the answer to any of those questions is “No”. They will rather invest their precious selling time seeking out and closing opportunities that will provide a profitable return on that investment.
Qualification is never, ever a one-off event, but it is rather an ongoing process throughout the sales/buying cycle, because the landscape can change – sometimes dramatically: What started out as the original buying criteria will be influenced by what your competitors have said; what they have bid; what they are prepared to sell for. You must constantly check and test your understanding of the rules of engagement if you wish to stay in the game. And don’t – under any circumstances – ever take anything for granted, you must be as alert all the way through the cycle as you were during that first exploratory chat.
As the saying goes “Many a slip between cup and lip”
Business is only won when you have cleared funds in your company’s account; until then you are still negotiating – and qualifying!
News: I am delighted to announce that the Top Sales Academy prospectus will be published tomorrow, and I will provide you with a link in tomorrow’s post …