Archive for March, 2016

Questions are Key to Closing Business

Monday, March 7th, 2016

by Ginny Speaks

Being a sales strategist and coach, I work with sales reps on a daily basis. Some are brand new to media and the sales path and others have been in media sales for a long time. In my experience, I find that success does not depend on years in the field, but in the ability to ask great questions. Harvard did a study of the History of “Sales Scripts” in American Business and they found that the one common denominator in all the scripts was the use of questions.

The sales cycle, at all stages, should be a series of questions — not a pitch or a broadcasting session about your package or your medium. You want to cultivate a fluid conversation that engages the prospect in dialogue by asking great questions and then listening.

Let’s review a series of questions to get you thinking along these lines. The first series of questions in the “get to know you” stage should be all about building rapport and establishing common ground. Once common ground is established, you should move into the second series of questions, the “discovery” or “needs analysis” stage. Questions during this stage should be about identifying a need or capturing an assignment by asking questions that bring answers to the following questions:

  • Who – Who is their primary target audience? Who is their secondary audience?   Capture demographics and psychographics to really get a good understanding of who they are seeking and how these people spend their time so you can align your marketing strategy to reach them.
  • What – What is the product or service that is the highest priority? Get clarity on this and learn all you can about it.
  • When – What time frame and/or quarter are they working on now?
  • Where – Is there a retail location that they would like to anchor a promotion? Or is there a business that they would like to collaborate with in the market that is like minded?
  • How much – Always define a realistic budget so you know what you are working with to not waste your time or theirs. It is always good to throw out a range, such as  ”Most of my programs run anywhere between $25K and $75K. Is this a comfortable range for you?” This question will always flush out a number.

All these questions come prior to any pitch or solution and should be well-thought out in advance during the research phase.

Once an assignment has been established and a plan has been put together, we enter the presentation phase of the sales cycle. During this phase, one should be asking questions that determine the interest of the package/program being presented.

  • For Example – “Are you with me so far?”, “Do you see the benefit in that?” or one of my favorites, “Does that make sense?” These questions help determine the interest and make your presentation conversational. Again, keep in mind your presentation should not be a pitch or lecture, it should be conversational and this only happens if you ask questions.

Once the presentation is coming to completion, we enter the trial close series of questions.

  • For example – “How does it sound so far?” or “On a scale from 1-10, where would you rate this program?” If you get a positive response you move on to the closing questions. If you do not get a positive response, you answer the objection or the question.

The last series of questions are the closing questions. These questions should lead the prospect to sign the agreement or at least commit to another meeting. They can be assumptive.

  • For example – “In order to get started, I need to gather some information from you.” Or they can be choice driven, “Would you want a start date this month or the first of next month?” Or they can focus on a deadline or event date, “The event starts 4 weeks from now, I suggest we begin the pre-promotion in two weeks. Do you agree?”

You get the idea. I challenge you to begin seeing your presentations as a series of questions that engage the prospect in dialogue. This will bring results.