- Let the customer do the talking.
Ask questions about him/her and how he/she got to that position. It will tell you a lot about who you are dealing with.
Ask questions about the business: where it came from and where it is going, how he/she will support that strategic goal, what the needs/issues/pains are he/she is encountering.
Keep asking open questions like: could you give me an example of that, help me understand that matter a little better, what do you mean by that, how is that an issue, what could solve the issue, ...
- Let the customer do the talking - Bis.
Don't let the customer come back to you with questions. Once you are talking he/she will have time to think and to form an opinion about you and your company. When asked what you/your company does, always tell then the issue/pain you solved for a "reference" customer, never tell them what product/service you are selling (at least not in the initial face). Always reply at the end of your conversation if they encountered a similar issue and ask them how they are dealing with it.
- Who else is suffering (aka the pain chain)?
Always try to find out who else in the organization is suffering from the issues/pains mentioned. The more people are involved, the more willingness you will find to solve the issue.
- Why would they want to solve the issue?
Try to find out what the compelling reason is to fix the issue? Is it:
- Increase in revenue;
- Decrease of costs;
- Increase of productivity;
- Increase of service levels.
This will be the core message of your value proposition and ROI. If you can't find the reason, most likely they will not purchase your product/service.
- When will they act?
By when do they need to solve the issue? Even more important, what will happen if they don't solve the issue, what will the impact be on the organization?
- Ask for time.
Never tell the customer you have a product/service that fits their needs straight away. Always ask for some time to come back with a proposal. Meantime, call them to check if you understood their issue/pain 100% correct (the Columbo trick). If you have an off the shelve solution, price will be the decisive factor.