In the last blog I stated that most sales people don’t inquire enough to understand core business objectives because they are uncomfortable asking business questions or don’t know how. We all know sales discovery meetings can be tricky. Let me explain what I mean and offer you tips to help.
Business objectives are usually tied to performance and profit. Asking a business owner about their performance or profit objectives can be a sensitive subject. It is uncomfortable because most of us are taught not to talk about people’s money and asking a business owner about their company’s performance could be considered personal.
How to increase your comfort level and gain a deeper understanding of the company’s objectives.
Approach the meeting with a partnership perspective: People form partnerships for mutual benefit and gain. A partner brings something to the business table that helps the business grow. It might be a skill, resources, expertise or abilities. Business partners fully understand the business objectives so they can best apply their contribution to build the business. In order for a sales person to become a partner they must:
- Stop selling (pushing your products) and start learning about their business
- Understand the value or contribution they bring to the business
- Be confident and bold in making recommendations that help the business
- Be willing to back away when they cannot make a contribution to help the business
How to learn more about business objectives?
Ask business questions:
- What has been a key factor in your success?
- What are the biggest challenges facing your company today?
- If there was one impact a new ___________ system could make on your business what might that be? In what ways is your current ___________ system hindering you in reaching performance or profit goals?
- Are you anticipating this year to be a growth year? What needs to happen this year to reach your goals?
Don’t settle for surface answers: Some people are not used to answering a sales person with core business objectives. Simply ask another question to help them get to the core. Here are some examples.
- If you were able to track call-turn-around time, how could you use that information to help you achieve your key business objectives?
- How would three new ___________ help you achieve your short or long term goals?
- If we provided a system on or below budget, delivered on time and with the features you wanted, in addition to getting a new _____________ what would change in your business operation?
(If you are speaking to managers, tailor your questions toward their department or area of responsibility as well as the business in general)
Increase your comfort level by being partner focused, be bold in understanding core business objectives and then connect your solution to their objectives.