Yes! You got the appointment! Excited about the opportunity to close a new account, you do a lot of preparation to make sure you can ask intelligent questions about your new prospect's IT issues. You've got a checklist to talk about their current woes and discuss how your company can help get rid of technology headaches at an affordable price. You're ready!
The meeting starts. You go into your pitch. You're digging for details. And best of all, they're answering your questions! You find out how many computers and printers they need to manage, how they need an off-site data backup solution, how they need remote access to files, how they need to ensure that their network is secure — the list goes on.
You've uncovered a goldmine of information. You are confident that you can offer a solution that will remedy their problems and leave with a strong feeling that your company is a contender for the deal. This was a great initial sales meeting!
Back at the office, you diligently work out what you feel is an affordable option for them. You send them your proposal, then call to follow up. No response. You email them. No response. You call again — and again. Radio silence. Finally, you get a short email back:
“I've shared your proposal with my boss. He hasn't had time to look at it yet. I'm not sure we're ready to move on this. Check back in about 6 months.”
What happened here? The prospect sounded so excited when you spoke to them. They told you about how some of their staff do not keep virus protection updated and how some of their computers do not have the latest patches in place. They know they need your help. How could they not be ready to buy?
The Forgotten Questions
You forgot to ask the two most important questions in your initial sales meeting. These questions are designed to help you figure out if you are talking to the decision makers and to see if they can afford your services. The people in the room might not be the ones who write the checks. And what you think is affordable might be out the range for some.
What is the decision process in your company for using services like ours?
If the response is “I have to share this with my boss,” then you clearly are not talking to the decision maker. One way to alleviate this scenario is to ask up front — before you schedule your initial sales meeting — whether others in their company should join the meeting. This tactic often gives you insight into whether you are pitching all of the people who would be involved in making the decision.
Do you have a budget in mind?
A common response might be “Not yet, we're exploring what our options are.” That's okay — at least you know that they have a budget. If their response is “We haven't done this before so we're not sure what this kind of thing costs,” then you may be entering a situation in which they do not have a budget. Here are some questions to ask to see if they do indeed have a range in mind:
I understand that you don't have a set budget, but if you did have a budget for this type of activity, what might it be?
Would the budget be $5,000? $25,000? $50,000?
I'm just using some sample numbers to illustrate the point, but as you toss out some numbers as options, don't use small numbers. You may be selling yourself short. When your prospect hears the numbers, they usually have a reaction — positive, neutral or negative. Listen for things like "Whoa! That's totally out of our range," “Well, probably not $50,000” or “What could we get for $25,000?”
If you don't ask about budgets, you may be pitching a prospect with no money, which means you are wasting your time. If their reaction is "That's out of our range" to your lowest number, then you are indeed wasting your time.
Memorize these two questions and make sure that you never leave an initial sales meeting without asking them.
Other Questions and Warming Up Sales Calls
There are many other questions you can ask to keep your dialog going. See our free guide, The Most Effective Ways to Start a Sales Call and Keep It Going, for a list of questions to ask in different situations.
To warm up a sales call before you pick up the phone to set up a meeting, use Presstacular to gain insight into what your leads are interested in and find out who are your best bets. Request a demo today.