SM: Can you talk about suspect to prospect qualification? I know you are a world expert on this!
AS: Somebody who is a suspect, and you do not know whether they are qualified, you don’t know what questions to ask. In other words, don’t spend a lot of time asking a lot of questions that don’t lead to understanding that a person might not be qualified, before you get to the make it or break it question. You are trying to accelerate the sales process, not waste your customers’ time.
You need to rapidly understand if this is mutually a good fit. If you know your product does not work on Macintosh, but it works on PCs, you want to ask about their computing environment first. If you find out they are not a qualified prospect, you can end the call sooner.
SM: You have a hierarchy of questions which are decision trees with breaks where you can exit the call sooner.
AS: It is a process which can be integrated into a CRM system. It can just pop up and help you. Sometimes you can do it with the customer on the phone using visualization software and they can help you fill in the answers. There are all sorts of really wonderful possibilities these days.
SM: What are the best practices regarding demos– assuming you have a qualified prospect and it is worthwhile spending the demo time with this person?
AS: A lot of companies you see today have a big button on the home page which says “view demo”. Often it will be recorded. If you want or need something more customized, there are possibilities for live demo group selling type activities where you might have multiple people viewing a demo at once. You can poll the audience in advance and understand more about the accounts and what they are looking for, so there can be customization in the demo. It all depends on how many people you are talking to – is this an enterprise or a SME? How many resources do you have and are you seeing what it takes to get to the next stage? Most people need to see the product live, while others prefer free trials and others just need the demo. It is testing and trying again.
SM: What cues do you pick up from a demo situation which is indicative of strong interest in the buying cycle?/strong>
AS: The desire to move forward. When they begin asking you for additional information, you are in good shape. That is what you are looking for.
SM: Ah, the NEXT STEP. How do you move accounts to the next step?
AS: It is important to recognize that the next step is not only for you as the vendor, but it is also for the customer. You are moving together, and there are things that must be done on each side to bring other people into the fold. Whether it is getting their legal department involved, or their purchasing people, we are talking about customer next steps. Very often there is an imminent event, there is a timing issue for which they need your product and you want to work backwards and understand what has to be done, by when and by whom. You must make the accountability really clear so there are no stalls.
SM: It is a great situation if you have a trigger.
AS: Exactly, but that is not always the case. If you have that, you are really in a good situation.