The formidable, former mayor of New York, Ed Koch, was famous for asking his constituents a question. As he walked the streets of New York, he would ask, “Hey! How’m I doing?” Being typical New Yorkers they would tell him quite directly. What about your sales? You know how you are doing when you make a sale. What about when you don’t make a sale? How are you doing then? Here’s a way of knowing where you stand with the prospect when you don’t make the sale at a sales call.
Start by asking yourself these questions. Then score yourself based on your answers.
At what organizational level are you selling?
Your sale is less likely if you are at a lower level within the organization. Approvals take time and that delays the sale. A senior level prospect often has the authority and budget to make a buying decision and can do so without delay. Score: Senior level: 7-10 Give yourself more points for the highest level. Lower Level: 1-5
Are you speaking with a decision maker or influencer?
It takes time to have influencers do their work to persuade decision makers. Sometimes your sale has to go through influencers in order to reach the decision maker or makers. It is certainly preferable to be speaking to the decision maker because typically you can sell more effectively than someone else. Some influencers have more weight than others. Be sure you ask how they will influence the sale and how they have influenced sales in the past. Score: Decision maker: 10 Influencer: 1-5 with the stronger influencer getting more points.
How strong is the customer need for your product?
Customer urgency is your friend when you are in sales. You know you are more likely to make the sale when your customer has an immediate need. Be sure to ask your prospect how important the need or problem you identify is for him. That’s the best way to learn how urgent it is for him to solve his problem. Similarly low inventories can create customer urgency. When his inventory is low and he is desperate for a replacement you are more likely to make a sale. Score: Urgent: 10 Not so urgent: 1-5
What is the financial situation of your prospect?
Just remember that the object of selling is to make the sale. There is little probability of a sale when a customer has no budget nor plans to budget for your product. Be sure to ask this question about budget early in your sales process. You get a zero if there is a budget, but it is inadequate for your product or service. Score: Has a budget 7-10 No budget 0.
What does the competition look like?
Your position is weaker when you have lots of competition. Some of your competitors might be weaker than others. Know who is your competition. Your prospect has many choices and you might have to compete with many of them. You have a much stronger position if there really isn’t an alternative to what you have to sell. Score: Little competition and weak: 10 Lots of competition, much of it strong: 1-5
What’s your sales call score?
You are unlikely to make a sale if your sales call score is 20 or less. Try this scoring on a prospect you are working on now to determine the likelihood of your making a sale. It would be wise for you to address the deficiencies you uncover before you gain the confidence that your sale will come to a close. Even better is for management to adopt this scoring system to keep all salespeople accountable for their sales progress.
Many sales managers ask their salespeople at sales meetings how they’re doing. I’ve heard too many salespeople tell their sales managers at meetings week after week that the deal is going to close. The question sales managers should ask instead is what’s your sales call score?