SALES PROSPECTING FOR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE--PART II

In our last article, successful sales people learned to overcome their “Fear-of-Failure” by answering 5 key questions. Today we add 3 additional questions to obtain competitive advantage in the sales process. The answers to these questions will better position your product or service for success.

Three Additional Questions

A reminder that the first 5 questions focus on understanding your product and, more importantly, understanding your customer:

  • What do I sell?
  • Who is my customer?
  • Who is NOT my customer?
  • Why does my customer buy?
  • Why does my customer NOT buy?

The next 3 questions will examine the reasons a customer wants to buy your product or service.

  • Where is my ideal prospect?
  • When does my customer buy?
  • Who is my competition?

Where Is Ideal Prospect

Once you have answered the first 5 questions, you understand your product or service. Your next question, “Where is my ideal prospect”, asks you to think about where your customer is located. This is not just a physical location, more importantly; we ask where the ideal prospect can be found. Referrals and networking are two of the highest paths to success for sales. Asking people within your own circle for a referral to an ideal prospect can provide that warm introduction needed to establish a relationship.

This question also applies to an ideal prospect’s digital footprint. Today, social media is an extension of your sales force. When looking for new customer’s, ask yourself where on social media your ideal prospect interacts. If there is a group or blog post to follow, then take the necessary actions to become a member of that group. LinkedIn or Facebook introductions are an ideal way to mine for that ideal prospect.

When Does My Customer Buy

Knowing when a customer buys is just as important as knowing why they buy. Certain businesses are seasonal and therefore decisions to purchase a new product or service are highly dependent upon the season. Interfacing with a prospect at the wrong time of year can be detrimental. Retail, for example, purchases product based on the season. Fall, winter, spring, and summer purchases could happen 6 months in advance of a given season.

Some businesses are highly dependent on the product development cycle. If you are a component supplier to a customer, understanding their development cycle can provide you valuable insight into the “window-of-opportunity” for a sale.

This question should also be asked for each individual you meet. When do they like to meet? What time of day or day of the week is best? What would be the best time for that phone call? Each individual has their own preferences. By adhering to those preferences, you have a better chance of maintaining a positive relationship and eventually closing the sale.

Who Is My Competition

Our last question examines your competition. Focusing on the competition allows you to prepare for the sales process. Who does your customer consider as an alternative supplier of your products or services? What does your competitor do differently when they win the sale? Why does your customer select a competitor’s product?

By answering these questions, you can better position your product or service. Turning a perceived weakness into strength can set you apart from your competition. Framing your answers to neutralize the competition and highlight your own benefits will address one of the objections your customer is bound to ask.

From a prospecting scenario, understanding your competition will allow you to focus on your true prospects. If you know a customer is happy with the competition, do not spend time trying to sell—this is NOT your prospect. Certainly, maintain a relationship, but do not actively pursue a sale. There are other prospects where the “fishing” may be easier.

Summary

To overcome the “Fear-of-Failure” in the sales process, a successful sales person will prepare by answering some basic questions. The answer to these questions will ultimately lead one to the proper path for prospecting. Not all prospects will become customers. The key is to define the characteristics of your prospects to such an extent that you will recognize a potential customer once you have developed a relationship. These concepts will provide you with the competitive advantage you need to ultimately overcome objections and close the sale.

About the Author: Garrett Grega is a Certified Business Coach with FocalPoint Business Coaching in Branchburg, New Jersey, where he specializes in reconnecting executives, business owners, and managers with their business passions! Garrett has his own passion for supporting others through transitions and exit strategies. He has 20+ years helping international companies launch new products and processes. He previously spent 8 years launching LED lighting products for various lighting companies. His professional experience includes: strategic planning, business development, marketing, and product development. He can be reached at ggrega@focalpointcoaching.com. See more at www.garrettgrega.focalpointcoaching.com

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