In a recent post, we began to explore first three of the “Big Six” categories that sellers use to qualify leads using our scorecard: solution alignment, decision-making process and timing. Today, we focus on the remaining three categories: other people, competition and budget.

4. Other People

On average, 6.4 buying influences are involved in complex deals. Given the changes afoot with COVID-19, it’s likely that there are new or different people involved in making decisions that you should speak with. It’s important to understand what role each of these buying influences plays in the decision-making process, what information to share with them and how best to reach them.

Given the tenuousness of today’s situation, speaking to buying influences requires a more empathic approach than before. For example, if you’re already talking to one buying influence, you shouldn’t diminish their role when you ask questions to determine who else is involved in the buying decision: it requires a more delicate approach. Here are some questions to try:

  • In addition to you, who else in the organization will be most affected by the success or failure of this initiative?
  • As you consider the various stakeholders, who do you anticipate will need additional information to help them approve the path forward?
  • Who, in addition to you, will need to provide their approval for this project to become a reality?

5. Competition 

Competition is a thorny subject for most sellers to ask about, because they don’t want to remind buyers that other sellers exist, and they certainly don’t want to spend their limited time with buyers discussing solutions other than their own. But now, with the shift in the market, your sales organization may face unanticipated types of competitors, and it’s imperative for you to understand what you’re up against.

One way to avoid addressing the competition head-on is to create a broader conversation that discusses alternatives to your solution. Here are some questions that may steer clear of naming competitors:

  • Help me understand some of the alternatives that you are considering. How do you feel about your options?
  • Of the options you are exploring, what are some of the things you are most excited about?
  • What are the major gaps you see based on the alternatives you have seen to date?

6. Budget

Sellers often wait until late in the sales process to discuss their buyer’s budget, because they think that money is a taboo topic. But, especially during the coronavirus crisis, it’s essential to ask about budget: you want to make sure your buyer is in the best position to make the smartest decision, while you also want to provide a solution that matches their desired scope—and determine whether the company can still afford what it anticipated. If you ask questions with this mindset, then you’ll have more confidence, and your questions will elicit the information you need to deliver the right solution at the right price point.

Use these questions to explore your client’s budget.

  • What do you need from me to help you create your business case for this project?
  • What help can I provide to help you get budget or funding for this? (Or do you already have the funding you need?)
  • Can you give me a sense of your investment tolerance for this project?

How to Maximize Your Big Six Questions While Selling Remotely

Sellers often resist the idea of preparing to get the information they need from buyers. They claim that writing down questions makes them feel too scripted; others say they’re good conversationalists who prefer to go with the flow. But, when you’re selling virtually, on camera, preparation makes a huge difference.

The idea here isn’t to create a laundry list of questions to fire off at your clients; virtual sales calls shouldn’t feel like an interrogation. But a prepared list of questions—and reviewing these questions online with your colleagues in advance—can facilitate your dialogue and help you share the right information, so your clients are able to make good decisions.

You can use our customized qualification scorecard below, and for more tips on increasing your chances of making the sale remotely, check out our webinar series on Selling in the New Normal.

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