A prospective client and I were talked about doubling sales without taking more time. They were sceptical until I told them about my clients and my own results.
Finally they asked me,
“What made the biggest difference to your sales performance?”
I explained that I’d successfully sold several million pounds worth of services each year. The downside was that I was working all hours, seldom saw my young family in the evenings, and was distracted most weekends thinking about business. Not exactly my original picture of success. The truth was that I worked and earned about the same as if I’d been doing two jobs. Not so smart.
When I realised this I made changes. I turned my performance around very quickly. In the first year I maintained my income, while reducing my hours by 40%. In the second year I worked no longer and was able to double my sales.
“In effect that was a four-fold improvement in performance in just two-years.”
There were several things that made a significant difference. But by far the biggest one was qualification.The biggest drain on my time was prospects who didn’t make a decision to buy. Or who purchased a very watered down version of their original inquiry. Qualification became my secret sauce. Qualification filtered out the doughnut eaters, so I could focus on pursuing high-value, winnable projects.
Qualification criteria give you a checklist for the decisions you need prospects to make. Even the simplest criteria … budget, authority, needs, and timescale (BANT) can be used in this way.
It’s too easy to get into free problem solving and solution design. To improve your sales performance start by focusing your prospective client on the decision process. These statement-led qualification questions might help:
- “Businesses generally invest around £150,000 to £250,000 for external support on a project with this kind of return. How does that sound for you?”
- “There are generally a number of stakeholders involved in a decision like this. Who else do we need to get onboard?”
- “We’re talking about external support for this project. What prevents you from using internal resources to do it?”
- “Looking at this project, what are your initial thoughts on a go live date?”
If the prospect can’t, or won’t, answer these questions the chances are you’re not dealing with a decision maker, or influencer. Remember, beware people who have sloping shoulders, or wear Teflon underpants.
Of course, BANT type questions are just your starting point. As you move into the sales process you must continue to qualify and test the validity of the project.
Let me know how you get on with the statement-led qualification questions.
The bottom line
Get real: Projects that never start are a waste of your time.
Get prepared: Design your own the statement-led qualification questions.
Get savvy: Qualify early and be prepared to walk away.
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