Recognizing Real Opportunities: 4 Questions Sales Managers Should Ask
As a sales manager, your role is broad. You have to ensure your sellers are focused with all their activities and you’re responsible for everyone hitting their numbers. You don’t want to micromanage, but you need to be able to help and lead your team efficiently. Hopefully you’re already doing a significant amount of measurement on selling activity to have an overview of everything that’s going on, but when you’re required to dive deeper into your sellers’ specific opportunities, how can you start a productive discussion?
Keeping your team on track with real sales and away from wasting their time with dead-ends is one aspect of being a great manager. What can you ask to ensure your team’s leads are worthwhile and actually qualified?
1. How have they expressed interest?
Make sure your seller knows exactly how and why their prospect is interested in the offering. Sometimes it’s just wishful thinking on the part of the salesperson about whether their contact is actually seriously considering buying. Knowing how the individual has explicitly indicated they have an interest and need for the product or service is crucial and the first step in classifying them as a serious prospect.
2. Are they the decision maker?
Who is the prospect? What’s their position? Are they an actual buying persona for the company? Do they have the authority to decide whether they’ll buy from you? If they’re not the ultimate decision maker, how can they help move the sale along? Are they an influential position with the final buyer? Knowing who exactly your seller is talking to is important in having insight into whether the deal will go anywhere.
3. What’s their budget?
In order to establish that any discussion with a prospect will yield a true opportunity, the seller needs to have a clear idea of what the budget is. Have they been wasting their time chasing someone who is interested, but has absolutely no budget? Is the budget so small that the time and effort spent trying to cultivate that sale could really be better spent somewhere else? Is the budget off the charts and your seller hasn’t been pursuing the opportunity with adequate vigor? Knowing the budget can help you assist your seller in formulating an effective approach.
4. What’s the timeline?
The timeline of a potential buyer’s process will help your salesperson forecast with greater accuracy and confidence. If a deadline for the buyer is quickly approaching, the seller should be acting with greater emphasis on moving the sale along. If no clear timeline is in sight, this could be a potential warning sign of the supposed interest, budget, or decision making authority. Having an idea about the timeframe is something you should stress to your team.
If your sellers aren’t capable of answering these questions, make sure they follow up with their contacts so that next time you ask, they have clear answers. Taking the time to ask these questions about any accounts you see stalling, will allow you to easily discuss action steps with your sellers for moving forward. Eventually your team will begin to ask these questions of themselves to continue to streamline their sales process by recognizing when a discussion with a lead won’t go anywhere.