Part Two: Understanding a Buyer’s Method
In Part One of The Power of The Word ‘What’, we discovered how ProActive Sellers qualify prospects using questions that start with ‘what’, not ‘who’.
The ProActive Selling MMM qualification process focuses on three key decision areas (Money, Method, Motivation) by asking seven different qualification questions. In this installment, we are going to look at part of Method, which gives you insight into the buyer’s timeline:
What is the Implementation Date?
Yes is good. No is good. Maybes will kill you. Yeses are good for obvious reasons. No is also a good answer because you can disqualify them and focus your energy elsewhere. It’s the swirling eddy of maybe that is a death trap for sales people. The word ‘maybe’ is used by a prospect as a way to control the deal. If the prospect is trying to control a deal, that means they are evaluating multiple solutions, and you are just one of many. Here are some sure signs you are drowning in the eddy of maybe:
• They don’t get back to you in a timely manner
• They miss scheduled calls
• It can take days or weeks for them to respond to an email
If you’re wondering if a sale like that is going to close anytime soon (or even at all!), I’ll give you your answer now – it probably won’t.
When a situation like this arises, it’s time to get ProActive. M3 Learning’s Implementation Date (I-Date) Tool is the motor to your speedboat. It will pull you out of that eddy in no time.
Don’t focus on the date the deal closes. That’s the wrong date, although it’s easy to see why a seller would focus on it. It may be counterintuitive at first, but the I-Date, which may be quite a bit later than the close of the sale is the date you should be focused on when speaking with the prospect. Use questions like:
• “What date do you plan to start using or implementing what we are talking about?”
• “When do you want to have the solution up and running?”
• “What date does the financial justification or ROI start from?”
These questions put the focus on the customer and their live implementation, not signing or closing the deal. Prospects place a heavier weight on this question because they own it. It’s when they can start using the solution you are providing them. By being ProActive and asking about their I-Date, you are showing the prospect that you know what’s important to them. Try looking at it this way:
Which date is more significant to you?
• When you bought your shoes, or when you had them on your feet and went hiking up Mt. Shasta?
• When you submitted your credit card to charge for your vacation, or when you were actually on vacation?
• When you signed the papers on your new car, or when you drove it home for the first time?
Prospects value I-Date questions more than any other during the Buy/Sell process for several reasons. They promised the boss that’s when something would change, there’s a deadline for another project and this product or service plays a part in its critical path, a schedule must be met… You get the idea.
As a general rule, salespeople know the I-Date in less than 50% of their current prospecting forecasts. This is common and happens for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the sales person is focused on selling and not familiar with the Buy/Sell process. Other times the seller isn’t thinking like a buyer. Or, being focused on their own numbers, forget to ask questions and just assume that the I-Date is immediately – the same time the seller wants to deal to close.
If you find yourself in these scenarios, don’t feel bad. These are common and using the I-Date Tool will rectify this for you, and be a surefire way to kill the maybes.
To learn more about the I-Date Tool, go to ProActive Selling, Second Edition, by Skip Miller.