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07.13.06


Questions To Help You Close?

By Linda Richardson

Knowing all you can about the client's decision process can give you an edge in winning the business. Let's look at questions to ask.

Find out the client's decision criteria.

Most clients expect to be asked about decision criteria, and most salespeople do ask these questions. However, the real value comes by drilling down once they get an answer.
Start broad by asking:

· So I can understand what is important to you, what factors will you consider in making your decision? (Start to narrow it down.) Which are the priorities?

or

· So I can put a solution together that meets your needs, can you tell me the criteria you will look at in making the decision? What are the priorities? Why is X so important?

Then probe the decision makers.

It is critical to understand who will make or influence the decision and then get to those people. Ask questions such as:

· Who will participate with you in making the decision? Or: Once you have resolved this, who else will you involve in the decision?

· What are their perspectives?

· What are their roles?

· Who is championing this?

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· Who is not supporting this?

· What obstacles might there be? (You must know what can stop the deal.)

Probe the decision process:

· What steps are you taking in making this decision? (If anything seems unusual or specific, probe to find out why.)

Probe time frames:

· What is the time frame? Why is that?

Find out about competitors:

· What other organizations are you considering?

· What about their offering do you like?

· What about their offering is of concern?

· How far are they in the process?

· With whom have they met?

Also, there will be times when clients change their criteria midstream. If this happens, ask why. Find out who has changed the criteria. Probe and discuss with your internal coach (hopefully you have one!). When clients say they don't know their criteria, suggest ideas from other similar clients and then check for feedback: We often see clients who consider … How do these sound relative to what is important to you?

Before you can close, probe, probe, probe so you are poised to win!

About the Author:
Linda Richardson: President and CEO of Richardson, training consultants to corporations, banks, and investment banks globally. Richardson has 110 professionals, 15 regional offices in the United States, and presence in London, Australia, Singapore, Latin America, and Asia.

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