Sometimes trying to find business and get into an account is like being a detective trying to solve a crime. And in order for a sales person to be like a successful detective, they must be able gather all of the key clues and information. We have already discussed that researching customer information in external resources is key to increasing sales. The other way to gather important details is through talking with different individuals on the customer’s side. Every interaction is an opportunity to get information and becoming effective with that will help with increasing sales.
The Information That You Need
Before you can get in a habit of getting the most information out of each interaction, it might help to identify what information is needed. This can be different for each sales person, but below are some generic areas that may be applicable to most sales professionals.
Contacts: It is critical to map out an organization to identify who does what. You want to identify the users, the decision makers, the influencers, etc. There may be some contact information available from published sources, but it is most likely the case that the contact information you need is not easily accessible. Thus, in every interaction you have with someone on the customer’s side, you should be asking questions that help to build out a picture of the organizational landscape.
Current state: You want to identify the current state for the area that applies to what you are selling. Identify if the customer is using a competitor’s product and if so, try to find out what they purchased and when.
Pain: One of the keys to increasing sales is to identify pain. Pain is an area where something is not working well for the customer. If there is no pain, there is likely little chance of the customer spending money.
Critical Business Issues: You will want to identify the customer’s critical business issues.
Internal Processes: In order to close deals and deliver with increasing sales, you need to understand the customer’s internal processes. You will want to know how decisions are made, how purchases are approved and funded, how projects are scheduled, etc.
Politics: It can helpful to understand the political landscape on the customer’s side. Politics exist everywhere and if you are selling something, it is likely that there are political influences that can arise and work against you. If you understand the political landscape, you can be either prevent this from happening or be prepared when politics do come into play.
How to Effectively Collect Information
We have outlined some of the information that you need. As you can see, there is a lot of different information that you can benefit from knowing. Some sales people just pick up the phone or go to meeting armed with their product knowledge and they just rely on their experience to feed them the questions that they need ask. By going this way, it is very possible to end the call or meeting with missed opportunities to get key information.
The other way to go is to outline the information that you need, structure questions that can be asked, and then have those in front of you while on the phone and in meetings.