By Ron S. LaVine, MBA, President and Founder of Accelerated Sales Training >
The Prospect’s Planning Process
In order to be of service to your Decision-Maker, it is important to establish an understanding of how they do business now or their current business status, where they would like their business to be and how they plan to get their business to be there.
This is best accomplished by asking a series of open-ended questions, such as “How do you currently handle…?”, “What are you doing in the area of…?”, “When is that taking place?” or “Where will that occur?.” Alternatively, you can ask, “Why is that?” Or “Who besides yourself will be involved?”
Open-ended questions are designed to create a dialogue and share information. There are varieties of ways to define a prospect’s status (e.g. Financial status, solutions in use, tax status, types of clients they serve, etc.). These are some questions to stimulate your thinking prior to your discussion with a Decision-Maker.
Current Business Status – Where is the Prospect Now?
What department are the end users in?
What is the prospect’s primary business?
What is the prospect’s gross annual sales volume?
How many employees work for the prospect?
Have you visited the prospect’s website?
Have you read the prospect’s Annual Reports, 10K, 10Q, Quarterlies and Proxies on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website (http://www.sec.gov/search/search.htm)?
What types of organizations does the prospect market their solutions too?
What solutions does the prospect offer?
When does the prospect’s fiscal year end? How far before the fiscal year end, does the budgeting process for the following year begin?
Is the prospect qualified for non-profit pricing due to tax-exempt status?
Key point – Ask yourself how you can be of service and help the prospect do a better job of conducting business.
Projects or Initiatives in Process or Planned
What are their needs, problems or challenges requiring a solution?
What are the Decision-Maker’s feelings about the solutions currently in use?
What initiatives, processes or projects are currently implemented?”
What current solutions or service evaluations are in progress?
What is the purpose or the reason behind the project or initiative?
How is the project or initiative going?
Who is driving the initiative, and where are they located?
What is the Decision-Maker’s solution evaluation process, and how does it work?
Key point – What areas of the Decision-Maker’s business are they focusing on improving?
Has the prospect merged or been acquired by another organization? Why?
Have any subsidiaries recently spun off into new organizations? Why?
What are the names and locations of the prospect’s divisions, subsidiaries, affiliates, joint ventures, member organizations?
Has the prospect divested or spun off an independent organization?
If so, who was it? When did it happen? Why? What was the result?
Key point – As changes take place, the business is often scrutinized for areas of improvement and this creates sales opportunities.
Number of Locations
Does the prospect have any additional locations, divisions or subsidiaries that are using or not using any of your organization’s solutions?
In what countries does the prospect have locations?
Is there a possibility of an enterprise-wide sales versus a division or business unit or department sales?
Key point – More locations mean more opportunities to sell.
If the prospect is in a joint venture, what is their role and what is their ownership percentage?
What solutions does the joint venture offer?
Who are the partners in the joint venture?
What are the names of the companies in the joint venture?
Where are the locations of the companies in the joint venture?
Key point – Joint ventures and other alliances may create new or additional sales opportunities.
What is the prospect’s industry?
Does the prospect specialize in one industry, or is it a conglomerate and why?
If the prospect is a conglomerate, what other industries are they involved?
What trends or changes (such as government regulations) are taking place in their industry?
Changes Occurring or About to Occur
Have there been any changes to location, management, employees or departments and why?
What are the specific business issues that may require your solutions and why?
What types of specific competitive challenges may the prospect be facing in their industry?
What types of specific competitive advantages may the prospect be seeking to gain in their industry?
What changes are taking place in their industry, the economy or their target market that may have an effect on your pricing?
Key point – Industry trends will influence what you say and how you present solutions.Anchor
Where Does the Prospect Want to Be?
After finding out and establishing where a prospect’s company is now, the next step is to find out where the prospect’s company wants to be.
Are there plans for initiatives, processes or projects? Why?
Are there plans for changes by the Decision-Makers to solve their problems? Why?
Are there plans to bring in outside consultants? Why?
Are there plans to centralize or decentralize? Why?
Are there plans to downsize, restructure or outsource any of the prospect’s overall business, or their individual business units or departments? Why?
What are the plans to expand or combine departments or business units? Why?
What are the plans to upgrade their current solutions? Why?
Are there any plans to resell your solutions? Why?
Do you know which business direction your prospect is going?
What is the prospect’s future strategic business direction? Why?
Who is leading the move? Why?
How Does the Prospect Plan to get There?
How an organization plans to move into their future is not always well defined. It will probably require some questioning and analysis on your part. Use the following questions to provide clues as to what might happen:
How has a prospect solved past problems?
How are they solving current problems?
Are they expanding or contracting? Acquiring or divesting assets?
How does the prospect plan to get to where they want to be? Alternatively, what are their strategic plans?
Here are some questions you can use:
“What are your plans in the area of…?”
“How do you propose to implement…?”
“What do you think will happen when… occurs?”
“What is your time-frame for the roll-out of…?”
“What is your future strategic direction in the area of…?”
These kinds of thoughtful questions indicate caring and professionalism to your Decision-Maker. It shows them you have taken extra steps to understand their business, as well as their challenges and concerns. This understanding will also help you during your discussions with them.
Key point – If you want a Decision-Maker to trust and respect your opinions and suggestions, you must be able to demonstrate you understand their challenges and are prepared to assist them in achieving their personal and professional objectives plus their company’s objectives.
What People are Saying About Ron‘s Training…
Best telemarketing training I’ve ever had.
Carrie V., Account Executive.
This training was more challenging and informative.
Daniel P., Sales Development Specialist
It has been a long time since I’ve had cold call training and this was a great method to learn.
Skip L., Account Executive
Always good to put the concepts into action during the training. Helps with retention of the concepts.
David H., Account Executive[Ron’s] training was very relevant to my day-to-day activity. Thank you.
Patrick P., Sales Development Specialist
Until the next issue…
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