There’s something wrong with a sales process when a sales manager sees a prospect sitting on a prospect list month after month and there’s never a sale. The reason is the manager is asking the wrong questions and the salesperson is reporting history, not creating the future. Here are the questions that sales managers should be asking.
Why should the customer buy?
The first question the sales manager should ask about the stalled prospect is “Why should they buy from you?” The answer will define what the salesperson should do next.
If the salesperson doesn’t have a good answer, the first option is to stop calling on the account. Prospects are unlikely to buy if they are happy, have no issues, or are buying from their brother-in-law. You can tell your salesperson to forget about the prospect. Don’t waste time. Move on.
The other option is to have the salesperson ask enough questions to uncover a reason why the prospect should buy. Customers don’t know what customers don’t know. This is an opportunity for the salesperson to learn more about the prospect’s business and find an area to help him improve. The salesperson could help the prospect reduce a cost, avoid a cost or increase revenues. If the salesperson still can’t find anything to improve, then it is time to move on.
Who is the decision maker?
Salespeople waste time and extend their sales cycle unnecessarily when they’re not talking with the decision maker. Ask your salesperson who is the decision maker. They should have asked it in a way that gets a truthful response.
The question to ask is “Who along with you makes the decision to buy?” If the prospect replies, “It’s me” they should ask, “How are you going to select your (your product/service) supplier?”
The answer to that question will tell them volumes. Prospects without a plan might still be a prospect. But it does demonstrate that they are less serious. How can they want to solve a problem and not have any idea of how they will implement the solution?
How do you know?
Your salesperson might have answers to these questions. What they could be telling you is what they think. Your job is to find out how they know the answers. I tell my clients that the only information they can use is what the customer said or did during a sales call. What the salesperson thinks is unacceptable.
A sales stall is a sign that salespeople are not asking the right questions. Sales managers who ask the right questions in sales meetings not only prevent sales from stalling, they also help salespeople make more sales.
Best wishes for your sales success,