As we have discussed in recent blog posts, there are numerous levels to qualifying a sale.
There is the basic fundamental of a buyer or other person at a company interested in your product or service. There is the fact of the budget being available or not. Moving up a bit further, there is gathering data about the company, its place in its market and its business scope.
The fact is, however, that the qualifying of an opportunity can and often does continue almost to the point of the close; there is always information pertinent to the sale that is being gathered, and that should be recorded for reference and used as necessary.
One category of information vital to sales account management is what is referred to in the marketing trade as psychographics: the mental landscape of your prospect. In that in B2B sales we’re dealing with multiple individuals, its good to record pertinent facts about decision-makers within the company that you’re dealing with as you progress through the sales cycle.
What Should You Know?
The first and most important thing you’d like to know about the decision-makers in your prospect company is: what is motivating them to be interested in your product or service? In other words, you want to discover the specific benefits they are seeking that your product would bring to them. There are of course general benefits to them as a company—such as, “That database will be much more efficient for everyone to use.” But you might find your product will provide specific personal benefits to your various contacts at the company; for example, if one of your key contacts is the IT director your product might mean less hand-holding for computer users. Hence it is a good idea to inquire about “benefits sought” from every decision-maker you interact with.
Another factor you’ll want to record is the person’s role in the buying process. That will give you an idea of how much weight that person carries within the company, and who else you may need to contact and possibly have to close as well.
You should also make notes about each contact’s behavior as applicable and as discovered. For example, “Don’t talk to Joe if he’s in a rush and under pressure; he’ll just say no to everything” or “Friday is a good day to talk to Melinda as she’s always looking forward to the weekend and going to the beach.”
You could even keep track of the corporate culture within the company. Are they team-oriented, or is there a lot of infighting and competing?
Ease of Recording and Access
At the end of this article is a link for a set of free tools for qualifying opportunities as the sales cycle progresses. One of these, the Account Profiler, can help you track the type information we’ve been discussing above, with each sale that is in progress.
But in addition such information should also be saved to your CRM application, at each stage of the sales process to which it applies. Not only will you need to refer to it (assuming you are working more than one sale and won’t always remember it), but there may be others in your company that may need it, too. Another rep may be subbing for you or assisting you, and this data will be vital if they’re going to smoothly step into your shoes for that sale. That means you should ensure your CRM solution supports rapid and easy recording and retrieval of such data.
A vital part of sales account management is tracking and utilizing the various attitudes within your prospect company. Understand them and use them to your advantage.
Click here to download your free opportunity evaluation tool.