Close the knowledge gap: get your salespeople to qualify customers more effectively to improve close rates and generate more sales revenue.
Having trained hundreds of salespeople in the recycling industry, and after listening to thousands of hours of recorded sales interactions, I’ve encountered a symptom that is as prevalent with new salespeople as it is with industry veterans: most salespeople are not effectively qualifying their customer. This lack of qualification is a symptom of a larger problem, salespeople rarely have an understanding as to why they’re qualifying their customer in the first place.
As a good sales manager, you’re already training your team to be inquisitive and ask customer qualification questions that reveal whether a potential customer has the ability, authority, and inclination to make a purchase. The one I hear most frequently is, “What kind of miles are on your car?” or “What’s the mileage on the vehicle you’re working on?” As an exercise, ask your sales team why they ask this question. My experience is that they simply want to find the nearest match in the marketplace, which may be good enough in some instances but may overlook other options. They aren’t necessarily thinking about any of the other “buying reasons” their customer may have. They aren’t necessarily thinking about whether that customer is open to a more cost-effective option with higher mileage or a more expensive option with fewer miles.
Again, as a sales manager and, as an exercise with your team, ask them, “Why would a customer buy our part over someone else’s part?” In our industry, we can distill our customers’ buying reasons to four things: price, quality, value, and availability.
- Price — the salesman will sell the part if the price is right, if the price point is at or less than the customer is willing to spend.
- Quality — the salesman will sell the part if the mileage or condition is the best in the marketplace.
- Value — the salesman will sell the part because of any additional “plus” they are able to offer the customer. This could be their charming customer service, the yard’s free delivery, it could be the stellar reputation of the yard in your area, or an excellent warranty coverage. Anything outside of the part, that you can offer the customer, is a value.
- Availability — the salesman will sell the part because they can have it ready to the customer when they need it. This could also be an instance of the salesman selling the part because they’re the only one that can source it.
Once your sales team understands the connection between customer qualification and discovering their customers’ buying reasons, they should be asking things that target each of these reasons. We know from experience that sales are won and lost sometimes by a matter of $50. Price is the main factor at play for our customers and yet time after time, it’s the factor that salespeople most frequently left unaddressed. To understand if price is what your customers’ buying decision is based on, coach your team to ask, “Have you been able to price this anywhere else? What prices have you seen?” In the event of a wholesale customer, questions like, “Do you know where you need to be to sell this job?” If the customer hasn’t been shopping around, asking, “What kind of budget do you have in mind?” or “Do you have any idea what these go for?” It’s imperative for the salesperson to address this most important buying reason.
Customer qualification questions to identify value as a buying reason are things like, “Is this your daily driver,” or “Are you planning on keeping this vehicle or are you just looking to fix it and sell it?” This is a particularly useful strategy to include a warranty rolled into your offering before mentioning a price with a standard warranty.
Questions about availability can be phrased as soft closes to help advance the sale, “If I could get this to you in 4 business days, would that work for your schedule?” This question is more effective than, “When do you need this part by?” as it doesn’t leave the salesperson scrambling if the customer must have it before the salesperson can source it.
If your sales team is asking customer qualification questions without thinking about their customers’ buying reasons, they could very easily be missing the factors that can help them land the sale in the first place. Help them make the connection to increase close rates and sales revenue. Is your team being coached in effective and practical techniques? Do they need to be pointed in the right direction? Let us know! We can help!
Robert Counts Chad Counts Rich Tyler Johnny Logel
Robert Counts, firstname.lastname@example.org; 512-693-6915
Chad Counts, email@example.com; 512-963-4626