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Sales Discovery Questions: Partner vs Sales Approach

Understanding your prospects business objectives will lead to a partnership relationship. This starts with a service oriented mindset that leads to asking valuable Sales Discovery Questions.

Most, if not all business buying decisions are tied to a business objective which is usually tied to increasing profit. If your product or service cannot be tied to making the business better in your buyer’s eye it won’t matter if you are offering a time machine at 50% off. So why don’t more sales people take time learning what the business objective is? I believe the answer lies in their discomfort or not understanding how. (Which I will address in the next blog)

I was shadowing a salesperson’s appointment today. The prospect wanted us to show her a reason to be interested. She didn’t have a determined need and was not currently shopping for a new phone system but was willing to learn. The salesperson was good at asking questions about what they liked or disliked about their system but there was not much emotion in her responses. I sensed we needed to learn more about her business so I asked, “What has been a key factor in your 50 year success and how have you competed against the big box stores?” This got her juices flowing about the evil big box stores and she said, “More personalized customer service.”She shared a bit more but the most important factor was “customer service”.

She then went on to explain how she spent some big dollars upgraded store infrastructures. She was excited about her new investment and had shared how it would payoff over time (20 years based on her calculations).

What Just Happened?
We stopped trying to have her tell us what she wanted in a phone system (which she was not sure about) and let her tell us what she wanted in her business (which she was very sure about). Remember all buying decisions are based on meeting business objectives. We also learned she is willing to make investments in the business if they pencil out.

What happens now?
Armed with this knowledge the reps follow-up appointment will be focused on understanding how their current phone system supports customer service and if there are ways a new one can make improvements. He will be allowed to talk to employees or managers because he is now working to support the owner’s business objective. She now hopes he can find a solution.When you learn what is important to your prospect or customer you are no longer selling your product or service, you are finding ways to help them accomplish their business objective. When this happens they become very interested in helping you do that. That is what Service-Minded Selling is all about.

Rene is the President of Sales Manager Now, a company that provides fractional sales management services to small and family-run businesses. He has twenty-seven years of experience in sales leadership, coaching, and consulting. He is also the author of the Part-Time Sales Management handbook and is based in Auburn, California.

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