While it is important to understand your personal metrics, mostly as a means of improving your use of time, and to develop an ongoing improvement process. While many know some of their metrics and conversion rates, few take time to explore and understand their prospects’ closing average or ratio. It’s easy to see why, you find yourself in front of what appears to a willing prospect, sharing what they want to do, why they are thinking of doing it, all while asking you questions that your manager taught you are “buying signals”.Instinctively you feed the fire, figuring that the more information you provide and gather, the more your share with them, the more likely they are to finish their journey with you. All is good till the last scene, curtains close without a deal. Would have been helpful had you had an inclination earlier in the sale, when you may have been able to change the outcome. The change in outcome does not always mean a closed deal, but saved time, energy and refocus on better opportunities in your pipeline.
No matter how good things look, professionals in all fields know that the fundamentals need to be present no matter what the immediate circumstances look like. A key fundamental in sales is not just to understand the buyer’s buying process, but their buying habits or patterns.
No matter how bright and rosy things appear at any time during the cycle, it is important to confirm and validate. Failing to do that leads to a familiar situation for us all, i.e. no deal at the end.
How & Why
This is where asking two specific type of questions, from a couple of different directions will give you window the buyer’s buying habits, or let’s be real, a prospect’s “kicking tires” habits.
The why – as you’re are going through the Discovery process, ask why they choose the current thing (product, service, etc.) you are exploring with them. What they respond is important, but more interesting is how they respond. Someone involved with the decision will have not just more details, and as a result lay out more dots, but will also be able to tell you why those dots connect, and how they prefer them connecting. Someone who was tangential to the decision will deliver the same headlines, but no detail. Someone involved in the decision would describe things in first person terms, while those who were not, say implementers, will use third party description. You will also see who was able to drive a decision, and who could not; in the case of the latter, listen for who internally they blame for the decision, (or lack of one), those are the people you should pursue to connect and bring into the current cycle.
You will also get a window into how progressive and early to adopt they are, or are they the type that wait second or third iteration of a technology.
Now that you have a sense around how they deal with their “whys”, why change, why that, or more like why not, it is time to turn to how they select based on the why.
“So now I understand why you chose to go with that kind of database, help me understand how you selected ACME Corp as the vendor?”
Much like above, you will be clearly able to tell if they were in the thick of it, or someone that was not invited to the offsite where the decision was really made. People may want to embellish, but you will be able to have a good view wit the right questions.
The reality is that everyone will paint a positive picture in the start, even the “Brochure Scouts” sent to gather information. Exploring their role in past similar decisions will help you gauge their closing average, which has a direct impact on yours.