3 Ways Your Qualifying Questions Are Destroying Your Buyer's Trust

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Your time is valuable. Every precious minute you spend with a prospect who will never be a viable buyer is a minute you’ve wasted. You need to qualify prospects to make sure they’re serious, not just price shopping or browsing.

The problem is that empowered prospects are impatient with your qualifying questions. They’ve done some research and are talking with you to get their own questions answered. Some of your questions might seem intrusive or premature. HubSpot Research’s study on buyer perceptions revealed there’s a wide gap between your sales process and your prospect’s buying process.

To gather the necessary information without alienating your prospect, you have to strike a delicate balance between understanding their needs and qualifying their ability to purchase. If you flub this balance, you might lose the deal. The number one thing buyers want sellers to do differently is provide information and answer questions in a relevant and timely manner. If you’re perceived as doing anything less, buyers begin to question your trustworthiness.

As you work to qualify prospects and protect your time, avoid these three mistakes.

1) Asking purely self-serving questions

Your questions about the prospect’s needs are welcome and appreciated. Conversely, questions about the prospect’s ability to buy seem self-serving, especially if they come in rapid-fire succession.

There are, of course, certain things you need to know. Is this the decision maker? Who else will be involved in making the decision? What’s the timeline? What’s the budget? What’s the current solution? What other options are being considered?

There’s no shame in needing this information. But the way you ask matters a great deal. Questions that are buyer-focused signal that you care about the prospect. Questions that seem process-focused make the buyer feel marginalized. To get these details without seeming untrustworthy:

  • Explain the purpose for your questions in a way that shows prospects your desire to help them. Say something like, “I know your time is very valuable, and I have just a few questions that will ensure the best possible attention to your needs.”
  • Mix up your questions. Start with a broad, open-ended question to understand the prospect’s needs. You’ll get lots of insight and may even get some of your qualifying questions answered, too. Your opening question will sound something like this: “Let’s get started by talking about your current business needs. What’s going on that led to your interest in (our product)?”
  • Combine your questions so there are fewer of them. Try “Tell me about the process and where you are in your process for making a decision about this,” or “When it comes to all the variables like price, timeline, decision criteria, and such, what are the ideal outcomes you’re looking for?”

2) Being inflexible

True story: At a large, well-known software solutions provider, SDRs are only paid when they set appointments with the true decision maker who has budget authority and final say. A sure-thing purchase in the high six figures was recently lost when an SDR refused to set up a next-steps meeting with a VP, insisting the CEO would have to be present. She was unwilling to accept the VP’s explanation the CEO would take his recommendation and never, under any circumstances, met directly with vendors. This VP went from being a rabid fan of the software to a bitterly disappointed customer of the competition.

This is a classic case of process interfering with progress.

If your processes require you to ascertain where the prospect is located, how much the prospect will likely spend, the number of users the prospect is considering, or other bucketing information, consider how this sounds to the prospect. People want to be treated with dignity, not sorted.

Sellers also lose trust when they’re unable to answer basic technical questions and insist on setting an appointment with someone else. This happens, for example, when SDRs push for demos with the technical team and an account manager. To buyers who only want to get their questions answered, this often seems like a ploy to ensnare them in a thinly veiled sales pitch.

Strive to answer the prospect’s questions in a timely manner and provide basic information without requiring a full demo. Don’t let internal roadblocks stop you from closing deals.

3) Implying someone’s not worth your time

There’s an inherent problem with the question, “Are you the decision maker?”

It suggests that you can’t be bothered with someone who is not a decision maker. For a prospect who has been appointed as information gatherer, it may suggest that you’re about to cut them off without giving them what they need.

Buyers often answer in partial truths. Some don’t want to admit their lack of authority. Others have been asked to stand in for the decision maker at this early stage and will represent themselves that way until it’s truly time for a decision. Increasingly, committees of decision makers are appointed but not revealed to sellers until absolutely necessary. It’s not uncommon to have layers of decision making — the person you speak to first truly is the decision maker, but only for this phase of the process. And so on.

This question really doesn’t do you much good. You risk offending the prospect and operating on incorrect information. Asking someone about their own authority builds barriers between you and makes it more difficult to establish mutual trust.

Instead, treat the prospect like the ultimate decision maker. Demonstrate that you’re on the same side and it’s normal and expected for others to be involved. Ask, “Who else should we keep in the loop as we proceed, and how can I make that easy for you?”

If you correct these three errors, you can qualify prospects without offending them or making them feel like you only care about getting their money.

HubSpot CRM

Source: 3 Ways Your Qualifying Questions Are Destroying Your Buyer's Trust
blog.hubspot.com/sales

50 Budget and Money Questions Salespeople Can Use With Any Prospect

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Figuring out whether the buyer can afford your solution is nearly as important as figuring out whether they can use it. After all, need doesn’t matter without the ability or desire to buy.

But talking about money with your prospect can be tricky. Not only can these conversations feel awkward, but you may not know exactly what to say or how to say it.

That’s where this list can help. To identify whether a buyer can — and will — pay for your product, use these 50 questions.

50 Sales Questions About Budget

Questions to Ask Every Prospect

The following questions are relevant whether you’re talking to an entry-level employee doing initial research for his boss or the C-level executive signing off on the deal. Use some (like #1) to discover details of the buying process and others (like #3 and #5) to inspire urgency.

1) Has [company] bought [this exact product, a similar product] before? How was it funded? What was the approximate price?

2) Based on the info you’ve given me, this problem is costing [you, your team, your department] approximately [X amount] per [week, month, year]. How does your allocated budget compare to that amount?

3) Based on the info you’ve given me, [you, your team, your department] stands to gain approximately [X amount] per [week, month, year] by investing in this opportunity. How does your allocated budget compare to that amount?

4) How much money would it take to build this in-house?

5) How much have you already spent trying to solve this problem?

6) Our solution typically falls between [X and Y range]. If you believe [product] can help you [achieve A results, solve B problem, meet your objective by C time], would that be feasible?

7) Before you invest [significant amount] in this initiative, you can spend just [price of introductory package or product] to see if it works for you and will drive [desirable result]. Is that a number you’re comfortable with?

Questions to Use With Your Champion

Customer champions are rare. Use your ally to your advantage by asking tougher, more direct questions about cost.

1) Is the budget owner an “executive sponsor”?

2) Is the budget authority sensitive to price?

3) Are you willing to work with me to find budget for this initiative if push comes to shove?

4) We can play around with price depending on the other terms you request. Approximately how much do you think [decision maker] wants to pay?

5) Can you tell me about the other stakeholders? Who is motivated by price? Is anyone pushing for the lowest-cost solution? What motivates them and what are their objectives?

6) Does the budget authority subscribe to the “buy cheap, buy risk” philosophy?

7) What other vendors are you considering?

8) How much budget did you use last [month, quarter, year]?

9) Do you often have unused budget?

10) What happens if you don’t use your entire budget? Do those funds roll over or expire?

11) When does your current budget cycle end?

12) When does your organization typically make major purchases?

13) What is Procurement’s review process like?

14) When a product seems like a game-changer but you don’t have the available funds right away, what does your team do?

15) Would [a payment plan, lower price for a longer contract, reduced service fees, discount for a referral customer] make a difference to the [decision maker, stakeholders]?

16) Can you draw from your future budget if necessary?

17) How do you typically get approval for purchases out of your budget?

18) Would [typical results] sway [final decision maker] to invest in [product] for [X price]?

Questions to Use With a Junior Stakeholder

Lower-level employees are often asked to look into potential options before passing the final decision off to their manager or a buying committee. You want to tread carefully when you ask budget-related questions — it’s easy to sound patronizing. Once you’ve insulted them, you’ll probably lose their support.

To avoid this trap, call out their expertise or ask for their opinion.

1) Has the decision making team set aside budget for this project?

2) When you were given the responsibility of researching [vendors, solutions to X challenge], did you get a ballpark figure?

3) Whose budget is this coming out of?

4) Did you get any idea of how much [your manager, the signing authority] thought [company] should pay for this product?

5) Does this project already have approved funding, or do you need to request it?

6) What do you know about the budget for [product or service category]?

7) Can you describe the people involved in making the decision?

8) How heavily will price factor into your recommendation?

9) Does [decision maker] typically reject tools based on price?

10) Does [company] have a Procurement department? What are their financial considerations?

Questions to Use With the Budget Authority

This person has the most knowledge and influence over the purchasing decision. With these questions, you can identify potential roadblocks and move them closer to a “yes.”

1) Is price one of your main evaluation criteria?

2) Have you decided on a budget range for this purchase?

3) What’s the approximate ROI you’re hoping to get?

4) How does your department’s budget figure into the organization’s budget?

5) Are you working within a budget?

6) How much budget do you have set aside [this month, quarter, year] for [general product category]?

7) How much are you currently spending per [month, quarter, year] to address [problem, opportunity]?

8) How major a priority is [relevant business area] for your [team, department, business] this [month, quarter, year]? Does that align with your budget?

9) What is [result] worth to you?

10) [Customer stakeholder] said you were working within a budget of [$X and $Y] — is that correct?

11) Would this be easier for you to push through if we [unbundled the package, billed you separately for X and Y, started on a lower rate]?

12) Is price the only thing stopping you from moving forward?

13) How much would you be willing to pay for [X component of product] by itself?

14) If we removed [X feature or add-on], the price would go down by approximately [Y percent]. Is that an option you’re interested in?

15) Would you be interested in hearing some of the creative ways my customers have found the budget for this purchase?

Once you’ve qualified your prospect for budget, identified any major roadblocks, and delved into their top priorities, you’ll be well on your way to making the sale. Get ready to spend that commission.

HubSpot CRM


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales