By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
In my last blog post, I suggested that sellers should avoid asking questions that senior executives may be unable to answer. The risks of doing so include failing to relate to the buyer and the potential of being delegated to lower levels.
If, however, you are at low levels and want to gain access to Key Players you can and should ask questions buyers are either unable or unwilling to answer. One of the suggested approaches is to attempt doing need development by proxy. It can migrate calls from product evaluations to discussing potential value.
After an initial request to discuss offerings, the seller could ask the buyer to share the requirements that have already been established. This respects the research the buyer has done and provides the seller a reading on how knowledgeable the buyer is. The next step can be to ask: “What is your organization hoping to accomplish with (offering)? This begins to steer the conversation toward business issues and the buyer may not be able to answer. For that reason the seller should be ready with a menu of goals that other organizations have achieved through the use of his/her offering. If the buyer can’t or won’t answer, it would be logical to ask if a call with a higher level can be scheduled.
If the buyer shares an organizational goal, sellers should ask what capabilities they’ve seen that would help achieve that goal. The seller can then begin a diagnosis that includes questions about how things are done today, what business impact it is having, etc. In most instances the buyer will either be unable to answer some questions or be hesitant to speak on behalf of higher levels. In either case the seller can ask to schedule a call with the buyer and a higher-level person.
Often-inbound inquiries aren’t yet buying cycles when you apply the first core concept of CCS®:
No goal means no prospect.
Sellers do buyers a service by helping to ground evaluations in business value. Absent sufficient payback and Key Player involvement, both parties have the potential to waste a great deal of time.