Thursday, 7 October 2010

5 hot questions a Buyer can ask to expose unqualified supplier salespeople !

New Business Development
The expression barking up the wrong tree apparently derives from the allusion to hunting dogs barking at the bottom of trees where they mistakenly think their quarry is hiding.

As salespeople on the hunt for the their quarry - new business we can fall into a similar problem. A lot of noise and bluster but no end result!

A story goes that once there was an email sent by a sales manager to his sales team which caused considerable confusion among the hunting pack.

It read “Time will not be wasted visiting small accounts”
The ambiguity caused a split in the sales team. Half interpreted the email as a directive not to visit small accounts whilst the other half interpreted it to mean that visiting small accounts was what was being expected from them by the manager.

Whether you feel your sales effort is worth spending on approaching any accounts whether small, medium or large accounts the key is to know what prepare for, and how to prepare for such interactions.

Elsewhere on this blog site we have considered the importance of developing a "Suspects List" as a pipeline for prospecting. This was in order to qualify accounts and their potential.

Of course using a term like unqualified prospect is language very much from the Sales (Supplier’s) point of view. Old fashioned tell-selling is inappropriate to buyers nowadays.

Let’s consider this issue from the Buyer’s perspective.

Here are five questions that I suggest to new Buyers learning their craft.

How would you respond on a first meeting or contact if your Prospect asked you any of the following questions?

1. “Why did you take the trouble to come and see me/ phone me/ email me?”

2. “Why do you feel your products/services will be of benefit to us?”

3. “Why do you feel that your product/service is better for us than the one we are currently using?”

4. “What will we gain by using/selling this?”

5. “Please, your time as well as my time is very expensive. Can you get to the point?”

If you can’t provide answers of quality and relevance to the above questions you are probably either not sufficiently prepared or you have not qualified the prospect adequately. But it comes to the same result.

Why not take this list questions to read over before most sales calls whether face to face, before group presentation or making telephone calls etc.

Appreciating the Buyers viewpoint is important in selling.

Like Salespeople, Buyers have their professional bodies. Today’s professional salesperson needs to know what’s hot in Professional Buying. Why not take a look at Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply’s website.

By looking round the site you can see what the hot topics are for professional purchasers. Take a look at the topic content of their own training programmes especially.

If you appreciate their role you are also more likely to speak their language rather drown them in conventional sales spiel.

To take an expression from another country sport - fishing " If you want to fish successfully think as the fish not as the fisherman"


  1. Hugh you've eloquently hit the nail on the head! These are the questions so few business developers answer well. Corporate, jargon full stool water we're great at but simple, value responses not so.

  2. A great slate on things Hugh. I certainly feel many sales people would benefit from seeing things from the buyers point of view. In the current climate buyers have so much more choice to - so sales people who really take time to understand the buyers motives will always succeed.

    A great piece Hugh.
    Audrey Bryce...