Welcome to Part Two of the three-part series that we are creatively calling “The Decision-Making Process”. If you did not read the former blog (Part One), please go back and check it out here.
Part One of the series was all about the “who” and the “when”. We covered how to avoid bruising someone’s ego as well as uncovering their real desired timeline for receiving the economic benefit from your products and services. We’ve begun to scratch the surface!
We left off with the example “when” question as follows:
1. If today is month/date/year, and you’ve done your due diligence, you finish the RFP, it’s made it through legal, it’s made it through procurement, you have a P.O., and a contract, everything has been shipped, your people have been trained, and now you’re receiving the economic benefit – when do you want that to be?
The answer to this question sets us up for our next round. Remember, your questions should come directly from the prospect’s responses. Suppose they respond with “We need to have this completed by no later than the third quarter.” Most salespeople write that date down and move on. What would be a better response is to ask WHY that date is important. There are four questions we should be asking to uncover the why behind the when. Let’s look at some examples:
1.Why that date?
a. Are there consequences of missing that date?
b. Are there any incentives to move the date up if possible?
c. Is doing nothing an option?
Once we understand the business drivers behind the timeline, we can begin to dig in to WHAT criteria they will be using to make their decision. Oftentimes, because our prospects are not experts in what we do and how to do it well, they don’t have ideal criteria markers for making said decisions. They have what they’ve used in the past, or what they believe will help them – ie: “have you worked with companies like ours before?”; “how long have you been in business?”; but these are really surface level questions that won’t help them cut through the fog of options. So, we need to help them.
1. What criteria are you using to make this decision?
2. What (other than price) would lead to an absolute “no” on your end?
3.What approach are you taking in determining who to work with this time, that is different from the last time?
These certainly are not the exhaustive list of questions you could/should be asking in each element of the decision step, but they’ll definitely get you started down the path of a productive conversation. Stay tuned for Part Three, when we discuss the “How” and “Why not” questions.