To get the proper takeaways from a meeting, you need to prepare yourself before going in. Here are some tips concerning which questions you should ask as well as a couple that you absolutely shouldn’t:
- “Why are you interested in our offerings?”
- “Why now?” as in “Why did you call us to have this meeting today?”
- “Are there particular departments or individuals that focus on energy efficiency in your business?”
- “How many projects have been proposed here in the past __ years?”
- “How many of those projects were approved and why?”
- “What has prevented projects from getting approved?”
- “Can you think of any previous efficiency measure that have been particularly gratifying? Why?”
- “How have you funded efficiency initiatives in the past?”
- “What kind of financial metrics do you use to evaluate projects?”
- “What projects or initiatives are on your wish list?”
- “What is the process for approving projects here?” – Feel free to exhaust this question. Follow up with “And then what? And then what?” until you reach the steps where the purchase order and notice to proceed are issued.
Here are some tips on what you shouldn’t ask:
- Never ask questions that could’ve been answered with a little research ahead of time. If you’re walking into a major university don’t ask, “So, how many students do you have here?” You could have looked that up on your iPhone during the elevator ride to the meeting! Opening with that sort of question demonstrates a total lack of prep on your part as well as intellectual laziness.
- Don’t open with “Could you tell me a little bit about your business?” That proves you’ve done no homework whatsoever. You should know all of this before you enter the building. Ideally, you should be able to cite situations where you’ve helped other customers who look very much like the one you’re presently meeting.
Failing to ask the right questions sets you up for failure. You won’t know how long the process is going to be or how to juxtapose what you can offer with what they want to make your value proposition not only relevant but also compelling.
Following this advice will command your prospect’s respect, give you the data points you need to pursue a productive sales conversation, and greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll gain a customer.