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Over the past 5 years the importance of the “High Growth Business” and how this relatively small group of businesses disproportionally impa...

Friday, 12 December 2008

Qualification, Qualification, Qualification 4 critical steps to successful selling

Fed up with closing too few sales? Keep coming up against surprise objections? Use qualification best practises to improve your close rates.

The qualification process in sales calls seems to have fallen out of favour recently and there’s an almost unnatural preoccupation with “the close”. Whilst there’s no denying the importance and the sheer pull of closing. If you don’t qualify properly “the close” will tend to become a painful and an increasingly fruitless experience. Simply put; by qualifying better you’ll close more business.

Step One - Do Some Planning!

Now before you roll your eyes and think to yourself “here we go again”, do you really think that this article sprung miraculously out of my head just as it sits on the page. No of course not; I planned out what I was trying to achieve working on the structure and presentation before I put a word down on paper. You know your product or service; think about what questions you’ll need to ask to properly qualify your prospect. Take a prepared crib sheet of questions if it helps.

Step Two – Understand your prospects issues and their consequences

Too many untrained sales people on hearing an answer that indicate the prospects needs their service or product rush straight to “Well Mr prospect our XYZ thing can solve your problem because it does....”. Don’t do it, just resist that temptation. Back to bit of Psychology, we all have problems, how do we deal with them? Mostly by putting them to the back of our mind and closing the hatch on them. That way for the most part we can try to ignore them. What you want to do is to keep asking questions such that this problem you can solve is unlocked from the back of your prospects mind and the full horror of it is brought home to him. This is best done by asking him questions about why it is such a problem and what the consequences are if it doesn’t get fixed. The more questions you ask like this and the more your prospects talks about it, the bigger his problem becomes and the more valuable your solution will appear to be.

Step Three – Act as a (responsible) journalist

Your prospect will in all likelihood, not have the answers to all your questions so he’ll “guess” some of the answers. Your problem is you won’t always know when he’s guessing. Furthermore there will be some issues which he will not want to talk about so he’ll adjust the truth to make his responses more palatable (at least to him). To identify this you need to be able to ask for the same information in different ways rather as a journalist does by using separate sources. This is an important but largely ignored part of qualification. After all you don’t want to find out that the critical information on which your subsequent sales pitch rests is based on either guessed or incorrect information.

Step four – Summarise your prospects needs

You’ve now spent a large portion of the meeting (say 40 minutes in an hour) uncovering the consequences of his problem. You should now be able to list a number benefits that your solution will offer and demonstrate how it’s going to take all that pain away. You can now head for “the close” with confidence, but that’s a subject for another time.

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