by pat

May 2, 2010

On-site facility tours are one of the best ways to learn about your prospect’s needs

Gathering information about an account is an ongoing process–you need to ask lots of questions over time. Here are some quick tips to help you gather information the next time your prospect says: “Would you like a tour?”

Do your Homework

Visit their web site, talk to members of the team. Once you have a solid understanding of their world, you’re ready to ask insightful and effective questions during the tour.

As the prospect extols the virtues of their products and processes, you can ask questions that direct the conversation to areas you want to explore.

Create a List of Topics to Explore

Throughout the life of a sales call, you can only ask a finite number of questions before the call starts to look like a scene from Perry Mason.

The tour represents a fresh start to the sales conversation. The prospect will be more open to questions since they are in the role of tour guide. Use this time to ask more detailed questions that you have not been able to cover so far.

Ask Process Questions

To show how your product or service can improve the prospect’s situation, you need to understand their unique challenges. The best way to discover ways to improve a situation is to ask questions about how things are done today and what would they like to improve if they could. As they explain how things are done, think about ways that your product could help.

Ask Forward Looking Questions

As you take the tour, be sure to ask what the plans are for the future. What are the goals and initiatives they are planning and how do your products map into the plans.

Be Sincere not Pedantic

Never ask a question just to show that you did some research. Show genuine interest in the prospect and what they are doing. Think about ways that your product or service can better their situation and focus on that.

Let your Prospects Talk

I have been on calls with sales people who don’t understand the basic purpose of a sales interaction: to let the prospect tell you about their situation. On a facility tour remember to ask your question, then be quiet. Allow your prospect time to answer, and only chime in if they stop talking or if clarification is required.

Understand Before you Pitch

Ask for additional detail to be sure that you have a complete understanding of a topic before you even think about talking. You want to be sure that you fully understand the situation as well as the effect it has on the prospects world. Armed with this information, you can begin to formulate a presentation that specifically addresses the needs of you prospect.

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