How to Assess a Prospect
Over the years, I have fielded many questions like this-
“I have a few high value prospects that I have been targeting. What are some good ways to assess if I have a chance of getting the business they are currently giving to our competitor? I know my products are superior to my competitor’s and I think these prospects could really benefit from doing business with me, but I do not want to push my way in the door. How do I figure out if it is worth my while to pursue?”
I really sympathize with this dilemma. I have never wanted to be a “pushy salesperson” either. Here are two key questions I would ask during an initial conversation with your prospects:
- “What are the ideal qualities you look for in a supplier relationship?”
- “How does that compare to your current situation?”
These questions will allow you to determine whether or not the prospect is satisfied in his/her current vendor relationship. Let’s face it, most of us could find fault in any business relationship. So it is possible that the prospect might share with you a disappointment or frustration (even if it is something minor) that he has with his current vendor. If and when you get that opening, you know that there is room there for change. You can then go on to ask about the other things that are important to the prospect, such as service, price and quality.
What if the prospect says “Everything is fine with my current vendor”? This is a real possibility. If that happens, you can try to shift the conversation by asking the prospect about their needs and goals for the future. You might say something like, “In the next five years, how do you see your business changing?” As they share their answer with you, you can segue in to a discussion about how your products or services might fit those future needs. Customers are more interested in their OWN outcomes, needs and goals, than in any vendor relationship.
Warning! Never ask the two-part question, “Can you tell me what you like and what you don’t like about your current vendor?” If they say, “My vendor is wonderful and he does everything I ask,” then you have just solidified their relationship.