It’s pretty simple, qualify hard and make sure it’s done early enough that the deal practically closes itself. A client that is qualified early in the process is one that makes the closing part super easy, why? Because it means that little effort and consideration needs to be put into what angle you need to take to get the deal done and dusted. So we have put together the 5 steps you need to qualify hard and early which will abolish the dreary sales approach you may have and put less stress on closing the account.
# 1. Questions, we hate lots of questions
It’s a habit, to go loco with the questions to get you in the mindset that everything is fine with the client and it’s a constant reassurance, a sense of personal security if you will. However ask 20 questions and that client is bored and walking away, keep the questions awesome and get the client thinking. A run-down of the lame questions that we are guilty of asking and the awesome one’s we avoid can be found here, use them as you wish but remember keep it short and make sure you ask the ‘real’ questions.
# 2. Commercial Perspective
Commercially focused people will use the qualification checklist at the earliest stage possible to get an idea of the client’s needs but ultimately to have the client qualified. It’s important to drill down the 3 stages of questioning that will help you go through the checklist. Example questions would be; will you give me an order now? Why in 2 weeks? Is there anything that could stop this from happening? These are tough but a confident approach will make your client want to copy that confidence with a solid reply.
# 3. Qualification Checklist
Maybe you have a criteria you follow or maybe not, either way it’s essential you have one and a rather incredible one. Our criteria consist of;
- Need – How will this affect the business and would it work? Pointing this out generates a thought process on both parts and can really determine if the deal is worthwhile.
- Money – Can you really afford it right now? It’ll be a hard question to ask, but your knowledge of the product and a non-bias view will be straight and say what the actual cost will be in the short and long term. If there are no major issues they will gladly answer and back it all up, easing any worries that may be present.
- Authority – The decision maker is who you have to qualify, if you are not talking to that person then call off the meeting. If a deal is to happen and not get lost in translation it is imperative you avoid the front desk staff so to speak, even though in time they may become an internal champion for your business, the decision maker will probably not have a clue who you and your service are.
- Timing – It’s no good trying to qualify a customer that won’t require your product for over a year, if contracts are not signed then it’s a waste of time for both parties. Business situations can change quickly and your client may be interested to get an offer in now, but be straight with them and ask if the timing is right and ask them the likely hood of requirements changing. Looking out for the customer is important to build a good relationship, getting all of the possible time constraints out in the open will help with the final decision.
- Champion (the champion is explained here) – This can be anyone within another business so like mentioned above the front desk staff could be prime. These people will be your best way into the boardroom to have a meeting with the decision maker, if you arrange a meeting and no one with authority turns up, make sure that the person you do meet loves your offer and even becomes an expert in your company, this way if your service is required in the future you will be the first to pop up. It also helps that internally someone has experience with another company; less risk is involved that way.
Using this checklist (MNATC) look at your last 5 deals, won or lost and be extra critical on them then go through them again with MNATC. Chances are you will see that with MNATC 99% of those deals you would have had no choice but to close the deal sooner rather than later, however without the use of MNATC there is a strong chance you wouldn’t get that sale.
# 4. Process Centric Sales Techniques
Steps of the sale training can be very good but little emphasis is on qualifying an account early which needs to be much stronger than on closing the deal. If it’s done early it practically closes itself remember to ask the tough questions, again the sales script we pick up over time is generic and tedious the right questions however will get the account finalized.
# 5. Control
Use your sales model, stick to it and be sure to use it early. Ask the sales specific questions early and get the account going in the direction you want it to, leave it too long and it will go another direction which then completely ruins your sales process. Be careful not to get manipulative though as this is a huge no-no which can and will upset you clients, don’t grab the account by the horns and lead it down the unknown as this tends to leave more than just you red faced.
Conclusion – Make sure that on every account you qualify hard and it’s done early. Skip the nursery questions and get into your big boy pants, asking the right things will get the sales mindset flowing for both parties. By all means remember to close just don’t search far and wide for the ‘guru’ and ‘ninja’ that everyone seems to love.
It’s really not that important to close!