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  • Brent Rood

Why it’s important to understand a prospect’s decision-making process

You have probably all experienced this in sales. You asked good questions in your discovery call. You articulated with brilliance your value proposition and showed how well your solution solves their problems. The presentation has gone well. They say they are interested in moving forward in the next couple of weeks.

Now come the crickets…

A cricket climbs up a screen and pauses to look at the camera.

You wait a couple of days. Days turn into a week, and now you have to send the generic “Just-wanted-to-followup” email. You don’t want to be annoying, but you don’t want the deal to go stale. The prospect in this situation is in complete control, and if they choose to stall there isn’t a lot you can do about it.

A great way to help prevent this issue is by asking, “Would you mind walking me through your decision-making process?” as part of your discovery call.

Three reasons why:

1) Understanding the decision-making process from the prospect lets you use their own words in the follow-up, not yours.

Which is more effective?

“Hey Ed, I haven’t heard from you since our presentation two weeks ago. I just wanted to follow up and see if you have decided anything.”

Here is a better way.

“Hey Ed, when we last spoke, you said you had to bring the proposal to the board on Wednesday afternoon before you discuss it with your CFO. How did that conversation go, and were there any new questions for me?”

2) Understanding the decision-making process gives you a reason for following up that has been agreed upon by the prospect.

Let’s say you are talking to Will, a sales manager who is the user of your product but not the decision-maker. Will says the process involves several steps: First, he has to bring the product demo to his sales team to see what they think. Next, he has to schedule a meeting with the CFO to get budget approval for this quarter. Finally, he needs one more demo with him and his sales engineer to see if they have any implementation issues or questions. In this scenario, depending on how much detail you can get about this process, you now have agreed upon follow-up points that stay in step with Will’s needs.

3) Understanding the decision-making process creates an experience for the prospect that feels more like a partnership than being sold to.

Here is an example.

“Hi Rita, as we discussed earlier, you said you were bringing our service offering to your tech guy, then you will propose it to your finance team next week. You had the meeting with your tech guy on Wednesday, right? How did that go? Were there any questions you couldn’t answer that I can help you with that will bring him on board? What can I help you with to be prepared for next week so we can knock this out of the park and get you set up with our services by the beginning of next month?”

In conclusion, understanding your prospect’s decision-making process can give you an effective process for prospect follow-up. It involves using their words and not yours, guiding them in a way they have already agreed to, and making the whole process feel more like a partnership.

Brent Rood is a seasoned sales professional who offers marketing and sales consultation through Intone Marketing.

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