Selling is all about preparation. However, you can know your customer's business (and your own business) up, down and sideways, but if you don't know the points of leverage -- the places where you can influence the customer to buy -- you're not really ready sell.
Scientific research (really!) suggests that if you've got six key questions answered in your own head, you're far more likely to make a sale. They're generic to all sales situations and provide some touch points to know whether you've got the leverage to develop the prospect and close the deal.
Here they are:
- How can I help this customer? If you truly believe that you can help the prospect, the prospect will feel obligated to say "yes." Example: if you're only calling on truly qualified prospects, and you've got an offering that you're sure can do the job, you know that you can help them.
- What will it cost the customer to not buy? A prospect is more likely to say "yes" if there's pain and loss connected with saying "no." If the prospect stands to lose business or opportunity or career points by not buying, you've got leverage to make the sale.
- What are the sources of my authority? A prospect is more likely to say "yes" if he or she believes you are knowledgeable and credible. So be certain that you've done everything you can to establish yourself as a credible source that can add value to the conversation.
- What similar commitments have already been made? A prospect is more likely to say "yes" if they've already made public commitments consistent with purchasing. Example: a prospect that's made a public commitment to increase revenue will buy offerings that help achieve that.
- Who among the prospect's peers is already your customer? Prospects believe that saying "yes" entails much less risk if the prospect knows of similar people who have already said "yes." Make sure that you have reference accounts and sell through referrals whenever possible.
- What is it about this customer that I can truly like and respect? A prospect is more likely to say "yes" to somebody who is likeable, and likeability is a reflection of your own attitude towards the prospect. So find out what's special about the prospect, and decide to like and respect it.