Copyright Exigent Ventures Ltd 2010-
Over recent weeks I've seen many businesses fall into this trap and rely on what I think is the world worst sales qualification question. It seems to be especially prevalent in micro businesses and in the creative industries.
In my opinion sales qualification is one of the most important aspects of closing sales. Unfortunately these days most experts seem to concentrate on closing, however proper sales qualification makes sales closing easier. Good sales qualification will help you identify early in the sales cycle those prospects most likely to commit to buy from you, and at the same time help you shorten the sales cycle. Something that we all want. Poor sales qualification, by contrast, results in the opposite leading to a lot of wasted effort and fewer sales.
As we emerge our sluggish economy the number of sales opportunities increases as potential buyers prepare to invest. As providers of products and services we enjoy more sales conversations unfortunately this new found wealth of prospects is often ruined by one single question which kills time and is our own work creation scheme. On the face of it this question seems quite sensible and for the inexperienced sales person a good one. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The culprit for this colossal waste of time? The question "Can I write you a proposal".
Why? The answer to this question is almost invariably "yes" so off you go thinking that you’ve progressed the sale because they want you to write a proposal. In reality you've done no such thing. Ask anyone if you can write them a proposal, ask your mates, your competition even the bloke on the corner, they'll all say yes because that question means nothing. Knock yourself out, write me a proposal, in fact send me three because that question commits me to absolutely nothing but creates a whole lot of work for you. What you have really asked me for is my permission to let you rush off and write something, so why I shouldn’t say yes? It has not tested in any way at all, my desire to purchase from you.
The result from his single question is many fruitless hours putting together proposals in which your potential buyers have absolutely Zero interest. That's why its such a poor question.
If you can't resist asking this question, then at least have a good follow up question. This follow up question will help you stop becoming a work creation scheme. It goes like this "Thanks for allowing me to provide you with a proposal, can we arrange a short meeting in a couple weeks time to review it"? If and only if they agree to that meeting is it worth your while writing them a proposal.
The next time you are tempted to ask a prospect "Can I write you a proposal?" remember on its own it’s probably the worlds’ worst sales qualification question. So don't waste your or your sales teams’ time pointlessly knocking out proposals, get a commitment from your prospect first.
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