Qualifying is the third step of the 7 Step Sales Process and is a critical step towards a Sales Professional’s evolution as a prospective client’s Trusted Advisor. A successful qualifying process is necessary in order to uncover valuable information regarding the Prospect’s needs and understand if they can be addressed by; and where they align within, the Sales Professional’s deliverables and solution stack. During the Qualifying phase of the sales process, the Sales Professional should ask a series of strategic questions that keeps the prospect’s curiosity piqued and strengthens the Sales Professional’s perceived competence by the Prospect.
The Sales Professional must discover who the decision makers are and why would they would want or need the Sales Professional’s services. The most effective method for uncovering what the prospect is interested in is by asking questions centered on their business strategy and the priority of their strategic goals. The Sales Professional should position questions around the following Business Generalities:
Once the Sales Professional understands the true issues and challenges of the Prospect, they must then connect their solutions’ features and benefits and what the implications of their adoption would be on more specific areas within the 4 stated Business Generalities. The ability to delve deeper into the Prospect’s challenges is what creates a true distinction and differentiation between the Sales Professional and their competition. The Sales Professional should create a repository of Implication questions around each of the challenges that the Prospect could be experiencing.
Implication Questions are questions that connect the effects of the business issues to the specific areas within the four stated business generalities. For example: “Since you mentioned that backing up your crucial data is important to your business strategy for this year, how would not having access to critical client data affect your ability to generate new sales?”
The Sales Professional should always take a Business Needs Analysis document that will help them gather and document the information needed to properly qualify the sale. It is important to note that the Business Needs Analysis should not dictate the pace of the conversation, but rather support the natural flow of the discussion. It is crucial that the Sales Professional remain engaged in a logical conversational tone throughout the Qualifying process. The Sales Professional should utilize 3 different versions of the Business Needs Analysis – one for the Business Owner, one for end users, and one for the “unofficial IT person” in the prospect’s organization (if appropriate). Along with documenting end user-focused data and issues, using the End User Business Needs Analysis will also provide an opportunity for the Sales Professional to “Warm-Up” the rest of the staff and create internal advocates that can also increase the sense of urgency within the sales process.
Ultimately, the Sales Professional’s responsibility throughout the Qualifying phase of the Seven Step Sales Process for IT solutions or Managed Services is to create a bond with the Prospect so as to deepen their relationship and elevate the value of any proposed services or solutions. When the Sales Professional masters the ability to govern the dynamics of the discussion without losing control of the conversation or making the Prospect feel uncomfortable, this will allow for more candid responses to their questions throughout the engagement. This will enable the Sales Professional to deliver a more powerful presentation by clearly aligning the proposed features and benefits of their proposed services or solutions to the Prospect’s stated and newly uncovered needs.
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