Work these questions into your customer conversations, and you'll find out everything you need to know.
When you're having a conversation (or series of conversations) with a potential customer, work these questions into the dialogue. Once you've gotten answers, you'll know exactly what you must do to turn the prospect into a customer.
How did you get into this [line of work/industry]?
What do you like best about your job?
What do you wish you could improve?
What can you tell me about your priorities?
How are you currently addressing this [problem/opportunity]?
How much is this [problem/opportunity] costing you?
What can you tell me about your decision-making process?
How do you handle budget considerations?
What other options are you looking at?
What can you tell me about the people involved in the process?
What obstacles might be in the way of moving this forward?
How will you be evaluating different options?
How will the funding for the project be justified?
How much attention is this [problem/opportunity] getting at the executive level?
How does this sound as a next step? [briefly describe]
These questions are variations of a list sales guru Barry Rhein gave me a few years ago.
Note: Never interrogate the customer. Instead, use these questions to move the conversation gradually forward. This may very well require multiple conversations.
GEOFFREY JAMES writes "Sales Source on Inc.com," the world's most-read sales-oriented blog. His new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, will be published in early 2014. To get weekly blog updates, sign up for his free "Insider" newsletter. @Sales_Source