At the end of the month when the heat is on to close business, what would you rather say to your manager?
–spoke with “Jim Bakus” in purchasing, the order will be issued in the next 2 days
–called my main contact for an update, he’s out of the office until the 3rd of next month, sorry.
The first answer is way better, right?
Sales Managers need accurate forecasts. As a sales person you’re measured–at least in part–on forecast accuracy.
Let’s take a look at 2 questions that will make a big difference in the accuracy of your forecast right away.
1) What could stop this purchase from happening ?
Ask the prospect if there is anything that could stop them from moving forward with the purchase. You will be amazed at the amount of valuable information that this simple question brings.
Most people are optimists and may not be mindful of all the issues that could scuttle the purchase. This question get’s them in an analytical mindset and focused on possible obstacles.
2) What is the purchase process?
If you can get a reasonably detailed description of the process, you can better estimate how long the process will take and what could go wrong.
In addition, having the names of people involved at each stage of the buying process will be invaluable if things get stalled and you need an update.
If the prospect can’t explain the process, they may not be as involved in the purchasing decision as you thought. Keep digging, until you’re sure you’ve found the decision maker.
Always remember, without a solid understanding of the purchase process, you’ll be relegated to ridiculous emails and phone messages asking for an update or “just checking in”.
(For a great article on the value of a forecast check out this post at selling power.)
Let me know what you think in the comments section.