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Sales Solutions
How To Avoid "No Decisions" vol 2, issue #1
January 15, 2004

We've all had it drilled into us since day one of our selling careers - qualify your prospects! And for good reason - why invest time on prospects who won't or can't buy? And so we qualify. Yet despite doing so, we still end up with far too many "no decisions" than we should. So what' s the salesperson who gets fewer no-decisions doing that you're not? He's turning the tables on his prospects. He's making them convince him that he should invest time helping them solve their problem. Let's explain the concept and then illustrate it with a real-life example.

What does the average salesperson do in the qualifying stage of the sales process? He does a "needs analysis." He asks questions to determine the prospect's "needs" and to uncover "pain". If he's really thinking, he'll also toss in a couple of questions about whether there's a budget and who will write the check. So what's wrong with that? Nothing - except that it's not sufficient. What's missing are the few questions that will help him gauge the likelihood that this is a deal that will close with a purchase - by you or a competitor. These questions are: Why do you need this? Why do you need this now? Why not six months or a year from now? Why not six months or a year ago? Could you do without it? If not, why not? What priority is this for you? For the decision-maker (if they're not one and the same)? Is there any reason you would decide to do nothing?

Do you see how these questions drive out the tire kickers and window shoppers?

I recently saw an ad on a web site about postal meters. I wasn't looking to buy a postal meter, but since I might be doing some large mailings some day, I figured I'd educate myself. So I filled out a form and within a week I had half a dozen sales reps calling me. Each and every one of them dutifully explained the features and benefits of their products, and some questions about my usage. Not one asked any of the questions I listed above. Not surprisingly to me, every one of them who called back (four of the six) was surprised that I wasn't ready to make a purchase - from them or anyone. But they shouldn't have been. I never told them I needed to buy one. I certainly didn't need one at the time,; it wasn't a priority for me. These were all reasons that I would decide to do nothing. Yet not one of them uncovered this. It's all well and good that a prospect tells you he needs something, but if he or she can't answer the deeper questions to your satisfaction, you ought to think hard about passing "GO" and collecting your two hundred. It might cost you a lot more than that in wasted time and effort in the long run - time and effort better spent on real prospects.


Print out two copies of the questions in the second paragraph above. Keep one by your phone, and one in your wallet or purse. Next time you sit down to prospect for business, or prepare for a prospect meeting, review these questions and make sure you ask them at some point in your conversation. There will be times when you'll hear something you don't want to, but isn't it better to hear it now, rather than 3 months and countless wasted hours later?

Good Selling!

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