Posts Tagged ‘Probe’

The Other Side of the Selling Equation

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From Wikipedia: In mathematics, an equation is an equality containing one or more variables. Solving the equation consists of determining which values of the variables make the equality true.

Your sales equation might look like this: good price + right product + favorable terms + good relationship – competition = win. And like Wikipedia says, determining the values is what will result in that win.

On the opposite side of the opportunity, the buyer’s equation might look like this: need + budget + authority + product + trust – hype = buy. And the buyer has the same problem of establishing the values of his variables before he chooses.

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The Challenge of Selling to a Buying Center

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To effectively manage a sales cycle, the salesperson must understand and mirror the buying process. This process can be broken down into the three phases: recognition of need, evaluation of solutions, and negotiation. A well-managed sales cycle will follow these phases by uncovering customer’s needs (Probing), demonstrating superior solution (Proving), and removing barriers to getting the order (Closing).

But what does this mean to the sales person? Uncover who´s need to? Convince whom? Who actually is the customer –  the company, an individual or a group? What does this mean for the sales cycle?

Industrial buying decisions, in contrast to consumer purchases, are generally taken by several individuals, the so called buying center. The sales person is faced with two challenges: The composition of the buying center and the dynamics of the decision making process within it.

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The Probing Demo: Using the Right Selling Skills At The Right Time

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In a previous article, I categorized the probing skill as the most overlooked of the three selling skills: probing, proving, and closing. Probing is asking the questions before giving the answers. It’s listening to what the customer says, thinking about that in relation to your own products and sales environment, asking follow-up questions and listening again, repeat. You never stop probing, you only do less of it as you learn more and are able to use that knowledge to move through the sales cycle.

Many sales people are reluctant to ask the questions, maybe thinking it shows their ignorance or something. And even those who do ask often don’t listen to the answers and think about them and react accordingly. They have accumulated information, but they haven’t gained any knowledge. It’s like hearing the weather forecast. If you don’t get your umbrella, it is useless information.

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The Trial Close Surprise: I Want To Buy From You, But…

Written by on . Posted in Fundamentals, General Sales Topics 1 Comment


“I want to buy from you, but the rest of the committee doesn’t.”

The words struck fear and dread in my heart. I was hoping to close the biggest sale I’d ever made, but when I called expecting to hear that the PO was on the way, instead I heard:

“I want to buy from you, but the rest of the committee doesn’t.”

“What committee?” I stammered.

“The other four professors. The rest of the purchasing committee,” came the reply.

“I didn’t know there was a committee,” I blurted out, incredulity infecting my voice.

“Well, you never asked. I just assumed you knew.”

This was the first I had heard about any committee. What the heck was I going to do now?

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Selling Isn’t Telling

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The most successful salespeople know that great selling is not simply telling – great selling is all about asking the right questions. The most important phase of the sale, then, is the probing phase. Probing is not really a distinct phase per se, since you need to continue probing throughout your relationship with a customer. However, especially early in the sales cycle, your job is to gather all of the information you need to be able to develop the right solutions for the customer. It is almost impossible to effectively map your solution to the customer’s needs until you fully understand their situation and what is driving the need.

A process I call “High Impact Qualifying” allows you to hone in and explore the key issues that are affecting the customer and causing a need. The following guidelines will help you to implement a “High Impact Qualifying” process to gather this information as quickly and effectively as possible.

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