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:

  1. “What are the ideal qualities you look for in a supplier relationship?”
  2. “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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search Articles

Paul Cherry

For over two decades, sales expert and author PAUL CHERRY has helped B2B sales professionals close more deals in all major industries. As a recognized thought leader in customer engagement strategies, Paul Cherry has been featured in more than 250 publications, including Investor’s Business Daily, Selling Power, Inc., Sales & Marketing Management, The Kiplinger Letter, and Salesforce.

Performance Based Results

Paul Cherry is the president of Performance Based Results. PBR delivers intense, customized sales team training programs and sales management coaching to companies throughout North America. Paul has worked with more than 1,200 organizations, including 175 of the Fortune 500, plus more than a thousand entrepreneurial, small to mid-sized, cutting-edge businesses looking to dominate their niche markets. Clients typically get 7 times their return-on-investment (ROI) or better.

Questions That Sell

Paul Cherry’s top-rated bestseller, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants (AMACOM) has been listed on BookAuthority’s “100 Best Sales Books of All Time” and has been published in four languages. He is also the author of Questions That Get Results (Wiley) and The Ultimate Sales Pro (HarperCollins Leadership).