When it comes to qualifying a prospect it's important to understand the reasons why people do things, and ultimately, why they will or will not buy your product or service.
You see, people will buy your product or service to satisfy one of two main needs. Some times they will even buy to satisfy both needs.These two needs are:
- The need to avoid pain, or a loss
- The need to gain pleasure.
These are the two motivating factors in a person for doing anything in their life; to gain pleasure, or to avoid pain. You may have heard it stated this way, "The carrot or the stick". The carrot represents the edible reward, while the stick refers to a punishing switch.
Your goal in finding the answer to the prospects' problems is to find the pleasure they wish to gain or the pain they wish to avoid, and then show them how your product or service will help them avoid that pain, or gain the pleasure they seek.
Does that make sense?
Great! Let's move on...
People buy products or services based on emotional needs or wants, and then justify their purchase logically.
So, in the qualifying phase of the sales process you need to find what the desired results are your prospect is seeking. Then you must dig deep to find their internal emotional reasons for wanting what they are telling you they want.
When you connect with people and their emotional reasons for wanting what they desire, you have tremendous power to give them what they want, and have them feel great about buying your product or service.
At this point you are probably wondering how to do that.
Let me explain...
In order for a prospect to find value in what you are attempting to sell them, you have to understand they have a problem they need some help with. Once you understand this, you can show them how your product or service can solve their problem.
If a prospect doesn't have a problem, or has a problem your product or service will not solve for them, you'll be spinning your wheels trying to sell them. Many sales people will attempt to sell their product or service to this prospect; however, it's usually ends
poorly for the sales person.
There are different types of prospects.I will cover each one so you'll know when you encounter them.
- You have the prospect who knows they have a problem and are eager to find a solution for it.
- You have the prospect that is somewhat aware that they have a problem; however, they're not quite sure how to go about solving it. This particular type may also not be aware of the consequences of not solving their problem. In other, words it's not a priority for them.
- The third type of prospect isn't even aware they have a problem.
You need to handle each type of prospect in exactly the same way. You need to use the same process of questioning and probing regardless of whether the prospect knows they have a problem or not.
When the prospect shows an obvious need for your product or service, don't fall into the trap many salespeople fall into. Resist the temptation at this point to show them what your product or service will do for them, the benefits of doing business with you and your company, and how much they will invest in what you're selling.
Then they shake your hand, thank you for coming, and tell you they need to think about it, and you walk out wondering why you didn't make the sale.
You didn't make the sale because you didn't follow the sales process and proceed with the question and probing phase of the process. You figured you could take a short cut and save yourself some time. What you did was waste your time, and the possibility of making a sale.
Do not, under any circumstances, think you can skip any step, including qualifying. Follow every step in the process. I know you think you may be saving yourself time, however, in the long run; skipping steps will cost you time and money.
So what questions should you ask?
You should always ask open end questions. Open end questions begin with "who", "what", "when", "where", "how" and "why". An open end question cannot be answered with "yes or no". Open ended questions require the prospect to tell you what they think, what they want, or how they feel.
First of all, you want to determine what product or service they are currently using. So, begin with a simple question, "What product or service are you currently using?" Remember, when you ask a question, close your mouth and listen. Don't think about what
you're going to say next. Listen to what they are saying, and don't speak until the prospect finishes talking.
An important lesson I've learned in sales is that most people will tell you anything you want to know. All you have to do is ask. People love to talk about themselves, and want to share information about their current situation, problems, likes and dislikes. However, in most cases they need to be prompted. This prompting comes from asking the right questions in the right tone and manner.
When you begin probing, ask general questions. General questions are less threatening; they get the ball rolling, and give you information so you can determine which direction to aim your more specific questions.
Another general question to ask is, "What do you like most about the current product or service you are using?", "What do you like least?", or, "How would you like it to be different?" "If you could design the perfect product or service to meet you needs, what would it do for you?"
I used a similar form of question when I sold Real Estate. I asked my buyers to describe the perfect house, right down to the last detail. I mean everything they would ideally want in their house. Then, depending on the price range they could afford, I would narrow the list down to the most important ones they would be apt to find in a house, in their price range.
The product or service someone currently owns, and what they like or dislike about it, will tell you a lot about what buying decisions they will make in the future. This line of questioning will give you a general understanding of what they are looking for,
and how your product or service fits their needs.
The questions regarding what they like, dislike, or wish were different, will give you some insight into the pain they are looking to avoid, and the pleasure they want to gain. Also, it will tell you if they want something similar to what they currently have, or something different.
You should spend as much time as you need on this phase of questioning. It's important to the process to get as much general information as possible before deciding the direction to take your questioning. Don't be concerned your prospect will object to the number of questions.
Actually, what you will find, if your questions are asked with a genuine interest and caring attitude, your prospect will be more than willing to share the answers. After all, you're there to help them solve their problem, and if that's really your primary focus,
they will relax and tell you anything you want to know.
I know you're thinking you're there to make a sale, and you are; however, as I've said before, get the dollar signs out of your eyes. "When you stop treating the prospect like a paycheck, and put their needs first, you will be on your way to earning more money than you can imagine".
You need to change your thinking to "How can I provide service"? The compensation you receive is in direct proportion to how much value you provide.