How to Sell to the Savvy Prospect

The best reps ask savvy prospects about their business goals and give them more product options than originally asked for.

- Don’t default into order-taker mode.
- Reframe the conversation and figure out pain points.
- Ask about possible competition.

The Pro: Danita Bye

Title: Sales Development & Leadership Coach and Author of Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Next-Gen Leaders

Danita Bye currently writes for Forbes Coaches Council, and has served as a Harvard MBA Sales Coach.

Ask About Goals
“To be effective, the rep has to understand the prospect’s goals and how their current request fits into the business goals and metrics the prospect is trying to accomplish, including quarterly, yearly and three- or five-year objectives. The rep has to have a strong sales DNA, or selling mindset, to be able to implement this redirect strategy. The rep might say, ‘Tell me about where you’d like to be in three years with this initiative. What’s your vision?’ Typically, if a prospect calls looking for a quick fix and has nothing to contribute when you ask questions, that’s a strong hint the rep is at the wrong decision-maker level to build a long-term strategic relationship.”

Reframe the Discussion
“Elevate the conversation so it’s sales rep to decision-maker discussing how this project relates to their overall strategic objectives versus just talking about a pen. It requires a tremendously strong sales DNA to be able to do that. To be a trusted marketing advisor, the rep needs to ask the tough questions. You need the ability to ask appropriate business-related questions and the emotional control to ask them even when you’re scared to ask.”

74% of B2B buyers conduct half their research online before moving offline to make the purchase.(Forrester)

Offer Additional Options
“Track one in sales is the prospect’s track, where the prospect asks the question and the rep answers. It’s reactive and it follows the prospect’s lead. Track two is when everyone follows the rep’s proven process. This proven process includes a time of discovery and learning the big picture of their business objectives. What’s the problem they’re trying to solve? How much are problems costing them? What happens if they don’t fix it? These are some of the insights you need.”

Discuss the Competition
“Don’t just show them the first thing they ask for. Offer more options and suggestions based on the needs they share with you. After you’ve developed rapport and asked business-related questions, ask the prospect who else they’re looking at. Even if they don’t give names, follow up with, ‘What didn’t you see from them that you’d like to see?’ Sometimes they’ll tell you, but not always. You can also ask them, on a scale from zero to 10, how close the competitor comes to meeting their needs. Some very strong salespeople will actually ask, ‘Are you really looking for someone new to work with, or are we just another third-column item on your worksheet?’ These salespeople want the truth, and they don’t have time to waste.”

Stay Proactive
“The entire culture is going this way, becoming more educated before they buy. Millennials are definitely taking the lead. Companies need to upgrade their process by hiring salespeople with strong sales DNA who will be adept at redirecting the conversation, and who consistently execute a redirect strategy. High-growth companies hire strong salespeople who aren’t reactive but are instead proactive in order to help the prospect.”