B2B selling is all about communication. When a prospect expresses an interest in learning more, you want to make the most of your time with them because you may not get a second chance. That is why it is crucial to ask the right B2B sales probing questions. With that in mind, ensure that you are coming in strategically armed to the sales meeting to learn as much as you can about the situation, their needs, key players, timelines, budget etc…. Here is a list of a few B2B sales probing questions that can help you make the most of your sales meeting.
What do you do? What are your goals? What is your current situation and the nature of your need?
It is important to understand what your prospect does, and the services or products they sell so you must be prepared to ask relevant B2B sales probing questions. The deeper your understanding of who they are and what they do, as well as what their business pain and goals are, the better you can position your product or service to help them. I have always looked at sales in a consultative role where you are coming in with what you are selling to see if you can add real value to the prospect. The ultimate goal is to help your client win. If they win, you win. Long-term sales success and references are built on this way of thinking.
What projects are you currently working on?
Are there large capital projects, operational improvement projects, research initiatives or other things underway where your product or service can help support? How can your solution provide value? The better your understanding of the “need”, the better you will understand your client’s motivations and timeline. Every project, depending on its nature and the level of priority, will have its own lifecycle. Understand it and be there to support it when needed.
Where are you located? Is the solution for a single site or for a corporate-wide need?
All these questions are related in some way and in this case, you are trying to understand the vastness of the need. Is it a new ERP system going global, or a particular software solution for a research group in one office? Even if it is the latter, this also leads to a “foot in the door” which can provide upselling opportunities for other research groups in the organization. Remember, large companies can have tens to hundreds of thousands of employees – they are like small cities and they do not all know each other. You can provide a very valuable role by acting as a facilitator and a connection point within the organization to help drive more value for them and ultimately yourself.
What is the budget? Is it an operating expense or a capital expense? What are the time frames for decision making?
Everything has a budget! It will either be an operating or a capital budget item. In some cases, depending on the stage of the sales process, the budget itself may not be allocated yet and your work could help define it. Tied to the budget is the time frame of the decision. When is their year end? When do they start planning for next year’s budget? What do they need from you to assist with in allocating for the budget? What does the process entail? How can you help?
Set yourself up for success by understanding the timing of their decision making process.
Who is your current supplier? What are you using them for? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Find out what solutions your prospect is using now, if any, and how that is going. How long have they been using them? Where are they having success? Where are they not? What are the holes? Can you help fill them? How are they pricing – annual licensing, SAAS?
Obviously, the better you can understand who you are up against, the better you can position yourself.
What criteria is the buyer basing their decision on?
Understanding how your prospect will weigh in and make decisions will help you position yourself more effectively. This list can be long, but it typically includes technical proficiency or experience in the area you are looking to assist in, along with cost, timing, your team, support and so forth. Be sure to articulate how your solution meets their criteria.
Are there other people involved in the purchasing process?
Different stakeholders from different departments may be involved in the buying process. It could be a senior manager and a buyer, or it could be various stakeholders from different offices across the globe. You will need to ensure that you understand their roles, responsibilities, and tailor any messaging to them at the appropriate times. If you can identify who holds the budget, who is an influencer, who is your champion, who is the dissenter or devils advocate, and who makes the ultimate call, then you will be in a good position to win.
Best of luck with your sales meetings. If you have questions on how to craft your B2B sales probing questions or you’re looking for outsourced sales and marketing assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. For great insight into startup sales and marketing, feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.