Don’t ask a prospect anything that you can find out on Google
“All wish to possess knowledge but few, comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price.” -Juvenal I saw a sales interaction that started out badly and got rapidly worse. It was like watching a car crash, compelling, uncomfortable, and hard to ignore. In my job, I am lucky enough to see a lot of salespeople in action. On this day I was doing my best fly-on-the-wall impression and we were about to walk into a prospect office.
The meeting started out with all the warmth of a Hatfield-McCoy peace treaty. The salesperson tried to build rapport but the executive did not want to talk about his weekend, his golf game, or the photos on his office wall. The salesperson try as he might, could not warm up the conversation.
It's common, executives are busy, they want to know how are you going to help them make them money, save money or save time. The salesperson did not look like he was going to answer these questions anytime soon. The situation got worse as he started asking discovery questions. · What keeps you awake at night? · Who are your biggest competitors? · What is your biggest challenge? · How did you get started in the business? · What is the company focused on right now?
The prospect's answers were short and to the point. The meeting ended after the discovery summary, promises of a follow-up appointment were exchanged, but no one looked convinced.
In our post-mortem, (a fitting term, in this case) the salesperson said he thought the meeting had started badly and got a lot worse. He did not understand it, he had used the same questions many times before, and they had always worked.
I suggested we go online, do some research, and see what we could learn. We looked at the company website, a newspaper article, and LinkedIn. We found a podcast with an interview with the owner explaining how he started the business, the challenges they faced, their mission, current focus along with a ton of additional information.
I asked, “Knowing what you now know, what questions would you ask in that meeting?
I gave him three minutes and he came up with a list of relevant questions that would have differentiated himself and made the customer think.
When information is ubiquitous, there is no excuse for going into a meeting without knowing as much as possible about the prospect. If you want to be taken seriously, do not ask anything you can find out on the internet.