I've been selling or leading sales teams for the last 12 or so years and without exception, sales are made or lost during discovery.
Discovery is the process of gathering intel. Learning about your prospect. What is their pain, who actually makes the decision, what makes them feel good/look good to others, etc etc.
We could easily put together a list of 100 great discovery questions (future post), but instead I want to focus on just one.
The most avoided question is often this:
What do you like about your current/former [service provider, vendor, solution]?
The tendency for most salespeople is to solely focus on the pain (which is important!) or to quickly go right into presentation mode. There's also often a fear that the vendor might identify something that you don't provide. Or maybe they mention a competitors strength, but something that's a weakness for your company. What if they say they like the fact they have no fees, and you actually have higher than average fees?
All intel is good intel. If there are trade-offs to doing business with you, your customer is going to consider those trade-offs whether they tell you they are or not. It's so much better to acknowledge the trade-off, than to gloss over it or try to down-play it. You'll come across as more of a resource and trusted partner if you candidly outline the pros and cons of the deal.
It's also worth noting- no matter what the prospect likes about their current/past vendor, there's a reason why they're talking to you, giving you their time.
Most [smart]buyers are always on the lookout for the tradeoffs in a deal. And average salespeople are always trying to gloss over the tradeoffs. The best sales people get on the buyer's side, helping them consider all the pros and cons of the deal. It's a powerful trust-builder.
In the end, who's the safer bet for the buyer? The vendor who enthusiastically perported to be all pro and no con? Or the vendor that candidly helped them weigh all the pros and cons of their offering?
Chris Nordyke is an integrated marketer and strategy consultant. He works with owners and senior business leaders to transform and grow service companies via a unique holistic approach that drives referral business and client retention. Click here to schedule a complimentary consult with Chris.