Following on from the post “The Art of Sales”, I thought it might be useful to list some questions that can be used by sales people under the 5W’s and 1H headings. These are also the types of question I would use as a sales manager to see if my sales person really had a handle on the opportunity. To remind you, the 5W’s and 1H are Who, What, Why, When, Where and How – and here are some ideas on how they can be used in sales qualification.
Who is buying?
Who is in the Decision Making Unit (DMU), what are their roles – Decision Maker, Recommender or Influencer? Key point – who will sign off on the order, are we talking to the executive sponsor?
What are they buying?
What business issues are they trying to solve? How does our solution address these issues? What is the competition offering and how do we beat them?
Why are they buying?
What business issues or events are driving their decision? Is it a desire for more market share? Are they on the offence against new competition? Learning their reasons for buying enables your salesperson to understand the emotion behind the decision. This prevents them from being a product-focused only salesperson.
When are they buying?
When they were going to make the decision and when will they place the order? Too often, it’s much later than either the salesperson or the sales manager expected. Be sure to ask your salespeople what the prospects time frame or sense of urgency is about their decision. In many cases sales forecasts slip due to a lack of understanding of the buying process and who is involved.
Where is the budget?
Where is the money coming from for the purchase – are budgets in place, do they need to go for board approval; are they just flying a kite? In my experience sales people are very weak in qualifying where the money is coming from.
How will they buy?
How a prospect buys refers to the terms and conditions. How are they financing the purchase – lease, lease purchase or outright sale? What performance conditions are attached to the sale – do they need a trial first?
Using these ideas as the basis for a sales review will often expose the weaknesses of the qualification and allow you to decide whether to spend time (and resources) on the bid, re-qualify by getting the additional information or move on to opportunities that are more likely to result in an order.