Customer Experience News & Trends

7 ways to turn inquiries into sales

Someone contacts your company requesting info about your product or service. What comes next is crucial to turning an inquiry into a sale.

Most initial contacts are information gatherers and have no buying authority. Here are attributes that make it in your best interest to work with them collaboratively:

  • They are excellent sources of information regarding the basic needs of the prospect.
  • They can become a strong ally if treated with courtesy and respect.
  • As “gatekeepers,” they can help gain access to the  decision makers.

Since the prospect already recognizes a possible fit, you have a lot more latitude when it comes to asking for information. Here are seven questions that may help you get the information you need to establish a competitive advantage:

  1. How did you hear about us? It’s always a good idea to keep tabs on where your leads are coming from.
  2. What prompted you to contact us? This may provide you with the prospect’s buying motive – the primary reason for the action taken in contacting you. It’s a good idea to let the prospect talk and take notes.
  3. What else can you tell me about what you are looking for? This may be the most important question of the initial interview. In most cases it will provide you with secondary data about the desired outcomes of the prospective account – details your competitors may miss.
  4. What other options are you considering? This is a nonthreatening way of finding out who the competition is. If they provide names, ask about meetings with the competition. Have they already had any?
  5. What were the positives and the negatives of your meetings? If the prospect seems hesitant, move on. But there’s really nothing wrong with the question and it may tell you how far along the prospect is in the decision process.
  6. What is your role in the process? This may clarify the level of influence your initial contact has in the buying process. Usually your initial contacts are not decision makers, but fill an information gathering role.
  7. What is your time frame for making a decision? This is a good question to establish the interest level of the prospect and the quality of the lead.

Dealing with tough questions

It’s not unusual for information gatherers to ask tough questions. A mistake some salespeople make is reacting too quickly. If the prospects are asking questions because they don’t understand your product or service, it’s a good idea to slow down. Understand that many of them have little knowledge of what you’re providing.

Try to find the main objective of what the prospect hopes to achieve. When you identify it, you may be able to align your proposal with their intent. If you become part of the plan, the prospects may close themselves.

(Adapted from Competitive Selling: Out-Plan, Out-Think, Out-Sell, by Landy Chase.)



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