The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I say that you make your own luck. That is a very true statement for sales. Luckier salespeople understand the buying process. They are more likely to make more sales, too.
Do more qualifying.
Before a face-to-face meeting, determine general information about your ideal prospect. Specify a required location, building size, revenue, other demographics or perhaps know specific information about a particular prospect issue that you can address. A face-to-face meeting is warranted when you’ve identified the basics of an ideal prospect. I then qualify my prospect further at the first meeting. You should, too. It makes no sense to try to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.
During your sales call you should work to get more specific knowledge to determine how likely that particular prospect will buy from you now. The area you can work on is to determine your prospect’s buying process. You might know that the stages of the buying process are awareness of need, research, evaluating alternatives, and buying decision.
What are your vulnerabilities?
Something can go wrong in each one of these buying process stages to stop the sale. There goes your luck. Be prepared to address your vulnerabilities.
Awareness of need:
Ask your prospect about the issue he is working on. How urgent is it? Nothing will happen if the issue is unimportant to the people who fund projects. You are more likely to sell when senior managers care about a project. Likewise, if your prospect is the only one championing the project, you are more likely to end up without a sale at the end. This result might change only if he has budget authority.
Ask your prospect where he got his information. There’s a lot of incorrect information on the web and that’s where many prospects do their research. You might have a problem even if your prospect relied on qualified people as a source of information. I had a competitor give technically incorrect information to my customer to try to take away my business.
Of course it’s a delicate process to tell a customer or prospect that what they think is correct is actually incorrect. I was able to show my customer the research data to correct the misinformation. Be sure your prospect is using accurate information to evaluate alternatives. Try to provide the information you believe your prospect will need to make the best buying decision. Show your prospect why it is accurate.
Be sure you know your prospect’s decision making process to ensure you know how they will be evaluating alternatives. You want to learn which criteria your prospect prioritizes over others to make his buying decisions. You want to learn if there is a buying committee and if someone has a bigger vote than others. Talk with your prospect as he is evaluating alternatives.
Some buyers make their decisions based on the last person they spoke with. That presents a problem if you think you know everyone they’ve spoken with and you are not the last in line. The buying decision could change if someone respected inserts himself into the buying decision at the end and influences your prospect. You also want to learn if there is someone on the buying committee who can say no and stops the buying process.
In all these cases you would want to be clear about who is talking with your prospect about the decision to buy. Thinking you know is not the same as asking to learn the information. Talk to your prospect so you can be certain.
You want to be prepared especially if luck is where preparation meets opportunity. You should prepare and know your prospect’s buying process so you get lucky and make the sale.