The final article in our series on how to improve your questioning technique.
COVERING THE PROSPECT’S KEY CONCERNS
Both your range of services and the prospect’s needs are complicated. Prospects are often confused or doubtful as you near the point of commitment. Traditional sales training said to “close early, close often, and close hard.” Some sales training pointed out that closing can bring doubts or unanswered questions to the surface as objections (a technical term in selling). The most successful salespeople prevent objections by taking the initiative to ask the prospect about further points or concerns that the accountant should address.
Example: “Well, I think that about covers everything, Ms. Prospect. But before we go any further, is there anything else you want to tell me, or is there anything else you think I should know?” [after addressing those areas] “Are there any other areas you want to tell me or ask me about?”
SUMMARISING YOUR BENEFITS AND SUGGESTING THE NEXT STEP
Sometimes your meeting runs several hours and covers a variety of areas. Refer to your notes and pull the elements of the meeting together by summarising the points you have covered — especially the Benefits which we will look at shortly.
Traditional sales training says, “Ask for the order.” However, in a professional relationship where you are the expert it is often more effective for you to suggest an appropriate next step to the prospect.
Accountant: [checking key concerns] Is there anything else that we need to discuss?
Prospect: No. I think that covers everything.
Accountant: [summarising the benefits] Well, we have seen how us having prepare your monthly report to the bank would speed up the process and accounting personnel for more pressing tasks. We have also shown you how we can help you improve the accuracy of your interim financial statements so you will have more accurate management data to control costs. And we have shown how we could help you develop a staff share ownership plan to make your exit strategy more effective and improve employee morale. It looks like we could bring some significant benefits to your company and you personally.
Prospect: Yes, there could be some real benefits to making these changes.
Accountant: [proposing a commitment] May I suggest that the logical next step would be for us to meet with your controller and see what he thinks about these ideas?
Propose a commitment to advance the sale which is the highest realistic commitment you think the prospect will give. Do not push prospects faster than they can comfortably move, and do not push them beyond achievable limits.
Key Point: Your objective is not to “close a sale” but to “open a relationship.”