This article increase sales growth is a a review of an article from Mark Hunter called Conducting A Sales Autopsy. The questions outlined in his article are a great set of questions to review after any major sales meeting. For each question Mark suggests I have added my own commentary and opinions.
After a sales meeting Mark suggest that you conduct your sales autopsy and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Was I able to get the customer to state their key needs and desired benefits?
I agree with Mark that this question is critical. The very first step when marketing or selling any product or service should be to get an understand of what your prospects needs, desired benefits or unsolved problems are. Or as my good friend Andrew la Fleur says, "what is their points of pain?". If you know what the problem or need is, it allows you to focus your message and everything in the sales meeting on showing that you understand the issue and have a product or service that meets the need and solves the problem. If you don't know what the need or problem is you will spend a lot of time talking about things that are irrelevant to the prospect which will cause them to loose interest and actually despise you because they will think "they just don't get it".
2. Why specifically did the customer choose not to buy from me?
This is a great question to ask after every meeting, even if the prospect has not said no yet. By critically analyzing when prospects are not buying you will not only increase your success rate but you may also be able to find ways to reduce your sales cycle. If you can determine a reason people don't buy from you ever on the first time you meet them, but often buy on a second of third meeting, and you can find a way to start closing sales on a first meeting you will significantly reduce your sales cycle. By doing this you might be able to save significant amounts of time. Even if you only got 25% of meetings to close on the first meeting, when it usually takes three meeting the time savings could be huge. Lets assume each meeting take 3 hours including preparation, travel time, the actual meeting and any follow up required after the meeting. Lets assume for the example that you meet with 2 new prospects a week or 8 a month. That means each month if you could get 25% of your sales meetings to close in the first meeting you would close 2 of the 8 sales on the first meeting. So for those two meetings the total time for each close would be 3 hours instead of the normal 9, or a savings of 6 hours per prospect. That means over the course of a month you could save 12 hours, just by getting 25% of your sales meetings to close on the first meet.
3. What were two things I know the customer appreciated about me?
Sometimes when reviewing things it is easy to beat yourself up. This question is important to make sure you get some good feelings and self encouragement from your efforts instead of only focusing on the negatives or what can be improved. Only looking at the negatives or what can be improved is not healthy and will negatively impact your psyche and performance. In addition this question is great to make sure you take note of what is working and don't wreck it. You never want to lose anything that you are doing that is giving you positive results, even if it is as small as making the prospect smile. If you continually keep the things that help your efforts in a sales meeting, over time you will become a selling wizard.
4. What did the customer ask and how did I answer?
This is important to track, mostly for how you responded. More than likely if your prospect asked a particular question they are not alone and future prospects will also ask this question. By reviewing how you responded it will allow you to improve your response for the next time you are asked the same or similar question from another prospect.
5. What can I learn from the questions a prospect asked?
Often the questions a prospect asks can tell you a lot about what they value, how they think, and what they are looking for. All of which are very valuable pieces of information to help you close the sale. Keeping track of this information can help you for future sales meeting with that particular person, or get a better understanding of your target market/customer base. If you find that all prospects ask similar questions or value the same things, this is invaluable information. If you know what your target market values, you can ensure from when you first meet the prospect you can focus on what is most important to them, instead of wasting time on irrelevant items.
6. What were all of the customer's objections and how did I respond to them?
It is important to understand all of the prospects objections as buyers usually don't buy from the supplier that has the best product, they buy from the supplier that they feel understands their needs the best. The way prospects determine this is watching if you hear their objections, listen to them and take action. If you can show you understand you understand the objections and are doing something to address the concerns...you will get the sale. Objections are actually a great thing, not a bad one....it means the prospect wants you to solve them so that they can buy from you.
7. Did the customer clearly understand my value proposition? How do I know that?
This is important because if your prospect does not understand your value proposition they will most likely have little interest in buying from you. Instead they will choose to buy from someone who they understand what value they are getting. I would say of these two questions though that the second question is even more important. Often I think prospects want to seem smart so they nod their heads and play that they understand what you are talking about when they really don't or at least not fully. Even worse than not getting prospects to understand your value proposition is to think prospects understand it but in actual fact they don't.
8. What closing technique did I try? How specifically did the customer respond to it?
I think this important for two reasons, to learn about that specific buyer what works with them and what does not, and also to be constantly testing and learning about what closing techniques have the best results. If you continue to refine your closing techniques your closing rate will increase and your sales cycle will shrink.
9. What did the customer agree with me on? How can I leverage this for future sales?
This is great to take note of. People feel close to people they agree with and people buy from peole they feel closer to. This can be anything from agreeing on what your prospect really needs, the optimal product model for the prospect, or even your favorite sports team. Often agreeing on something like sports or hobbies that is not related to the sales meeting can have the greatest impact for increasing rapport. That is why it is critical to sprinkle in some personal discussion in any sales meeting. The key here is to be genuine and not over use it. If it feels salesy it is probably not good. It needs to be genuine and real or it will actually destroy your attempts to build rapport.
10. What is my next step with this prospect/customer?
This is critical to ask. I would disagree with Mark though, that this question should be asked after a meeting. I would suggest you need to be asking your self this during the meeting and than getting commitment from the prospect to the desired next step in the meeting. I have found that it is critical to get commitment to what the next step will be in the meeting. I have found that if I do not complete this in the meeting, I have a low closing rate. On the flip side when I get commitment to a next step, even if it is as small as agreeing to make a decision by a set date, my closing rate is probably over 60%. This makes sense, people don't want to be known as someone who does not do what they say. The act of saying you will do something is a powerful tool to make yourself do something. If you can get both a verbal and written agreement that is even better. For a sales meeting, the best is to get prospects to sign some kind of paper that outlines the agreed to next step.
I think overall reviewing these questions is a great habit to get into. If you use these questions as a self reflection after every major sales meeting, you will see your customer base expand at a faster rate.
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My name is Chris R. Keller. I work at Profitworks Small Business Services helping various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener Ontario generate new customers. Feel free to connect with me on Google+ or if you are just interested in getting new customers for your B2B small businesses enter your email in the box provided below and click the "Send Me Free Updates" button.
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