Working with clients, I notice that they often expend too much time and energy focused on opportunities that have little to no potential for actually becoming a bona fide sale. This happens because they have not taken the time to ask the right questions – questions that will help them determine if they should be spending time on this prospect now or following up on in three months from now.
Does this sound familiar?
You met someone at an event and they said they wanted to know more about your service. You called them and scheduled an appointment, met with them and told them all about what you have to offer. They suggest you write a proposal, which you feel pretty good about because you think that means they are really interested. So, you spend several hours putting together that killer proposal and send it over thinking a sale is coming any day. But then when you follow up they say…well, we really don’t have the budget right now, so call me back in 6 months. Excuse me? Even worse is when you realize that all that hard work crafting your proposal was merely a way for them to get their current provider to lower their price! Yup, at some point it has happened to all of us.
Remember that just because someone expresses interest in learning more about your product or service, that doesn’t mean they have the means or the ability to buy right now. Before you spend much time scheduling meetings, crafting presentations or submitting proposals to your prospect, be sure you ask the questions that will help you determine what stage of the buying cycle they are in.
The key is having a healthy sales pipeline is to learn how to balance between closing short-term sales and developing long-term opportunities. Here are some examples of the type of questions you can ask:
- When do you plan to make your purchase?
- Do you have budget now or is this something you are thinking about for next year?
- Are you the only one who is involved in the buying decision?
- How long does it usually take for a buying decision to be made?
- Is there paperwork required for me to complete to be considered as a vendor?
Don’t be shy about asking questions right up front that help you better qualify your potential prospects ability to buy now. You will save yourself time and a lot of aggravation!