When selling, I’ve always found it useful to have a process in place to help determine if a prospect is someone I can truly turn into a customer. This is why qualifying is important; it allows you to determine how much time you should invest, up front, with a prospect.
While you will find situations where a prospect doesn’t meet all your qualifying criteria, that doesn’t mean the person is unimportant. In those situations, continue to spend a little time building a relationship, and then, at some point in the future when your prospect is still in a position to buy or knows someone who might be, you are ready to make a sale happen.
Their Current Situation
In the equipment business, selling is a relational process, and as I take a prospect through my qualification process, I want to be sure that I am making the prospect as comfortable as possible. The first question I like to ask is a simple: “What do you have now?” type question.
If you have a person looking at a zero-turn mower, a UTV, or a tractor, then I would ask, “Do you currently have a (zero-turn mower, UTV, or a tractor)? If the answer is yes, then I follow up with “What do you have, and what about it do you like the most?”
If the prospect has a competitor’s product, but is in my dealership, I know that my competitor has dropped the ball somewhere along the way and I can use that to my advantage later in the selling process. When the prospect tells me what it is he likes most about what he currently has, I can make sure when presenting my product, that I spend time highlighting how my piece of equipment provides the same features he likes. My goal is to understand why that prospect came to me so I can use that later in the sales presentation process.
Likes and Dislikes
My next question is: “So, if you could change or improve anything about the piece of equipment you have now, what would it be?” Asking this question allows me to target my sales presentation on key selling points, rather than dumping information about every feature my equipment has.
I then transition to the money question, and ask, “So, if you find what you’re looking for, what general price range are you hoping to stay within?” It’s important that I make sure that what I am going to lead them to is within range (15 to 20%) of what they want to spend.
Time Frame & Decision Maker
My next question involves the time frame; when does the prospect plan to make a purchase. This will help me determine what level I want to take him into my presentation. Then, my final qualification question involves asking who will be involved in making the final decision to move forward. It’s a delicate question, so I normally ask, “Who, other than yourself, would be involved in making the final decision?”
I learned long ago in sales not to assume that you are speaking with the decision maker. I always ask that question to make sure a wife, husband, brother, business partner, or someone else, doesn’t need to be involved before I start the presentation.