In Sales Qualification Ask When and Keep Asking When

In qualifying a sales deal WHEN a decision will be made is just as important as HOW that decision will be made, WHO will make it and WHY they’ll make it. If the prospect doesn’t have a time frame planned it probably isn’t going to happen, for anybody.

So these are 4 of my main sales qualification questions: Why, Who, How, When?

If the prospect doesn’t have a plan for implementation I need to invest my selling time elsewhere, and if s/he does but it’s in 6 months time, the deal will go on the backburner. As a sales guy with a family to feed I need to preserve my time, so as to be really on top of deals which are closing now. And that means asking the hard questions, early and often.

Businesses don’t buy things the way consumers do. This is particularly true for the larger organizations. Purchase decisions by businesses are much more complex. They aren’t much influenced by fashion or what outsiders will think. Price is important and return on investment a pre-requisite. They don’t get made unless

  • The management’s defined them as part of strategy
  • They’ll improve bottom line performance
  • There is a general consensus supporting the changes.

When qualifying sales opportunities sales people ask some pretty direct questions.

The junior salesman knows there needs to be a budget. The senior salesman understands there also needs to be the business imperative, a reason. The sales professional wants to understand the decision process.

Only the sales ninja looks for the fourth factor – the time frame. Even if there is management support and a budget, it won’t be a deal for anybody until there’s a time-frame.

No time frame suggests no consensus, and without consensus, it won’t happen. Businesses only make decisions in groups and those groups guard all of the vested interests in the organisation. Any one faction can and will protect its vested interest by delaying the implementation of the decision and the best sign of that delay can be spotted in the absence of time frame.

So I’ll always ask WHEN early in the sale and keep asking WHEN throughout the process. Even a slipping delivery date is a sign of problems with the decision process and I want to know about those problems, so I can do something about them. That’s why I’ll keep asking the questions.

If any of this makes sense you might enjoy some of our other sales qualification articles in which we focus on asking the right questions.

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May 25th, 2010 – Posted in sales qualification  |  Add a Comment sales qualification. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. –>

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