Are you suffering from the latest sales process epidemic “Selling too soon?”

While working with a few sales teams recently, I realized a huge sales challenge that even the most seasoned sales reps are facing. It’s “Selling Too Soon” Syndrome and this epidemic started with buyers who have little time for salespeople. Salespeople have wasted buyers’ time, thus buyers have reduced the amount of time to about 10-15 minutes with a sales professional, forcing salespeople to quickly provide their product solutions and get down and dirty with price.

You can’t sell or even hint to one of your solutions until you have used the 3x3x3 Questioning Technique. In the PURPOSE Consultative Framework – you don’t sell until you get to the S in PURPOSE – which is the sixth step in the sales process. 

The PURPOSE Framework is a simple 7-step consultative framework to help salespeople have a more purposeful conversation.

P- Prepare, U – Understand your Customer, R – Rapport with Customer, P- Purpose of Meeting, O – Ask Open ended questions(more questions about their business, not your products), S- Summarize & Solutions, E – Execute next steps 

Download the PURPOSE template to help you NOT sell too soon!

A salesperson will ask a few questions and then too quickly jump to selling the solution.

To help salespeople not sell too soon, try the 3x3x3 Questioning Technique. A simple repeatable sales methodology that enables you to be more customer centric. This is a critical step in the sales process to build stronger customer relationships and earn more time with potential customers.

To begin this effective sales process, you quickly build rapport with your buyer, state the purpose of your meeting and then let them know you want to ask them a few questions about their situation and their business. You don’t you have to tell them you’re going to ask them over nine questions, each question will build on the other and you’ll be surprised at how much information they will share when you ask these questions.

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In the first group of questions – ask about their needs and pain points. Too often sales professionals will ask a few relevant questions, then quickly jump to selling their product or service, but I encourage you to go deep and find out why they need this product/solution now. What is really causing their pain or challenge? Peel the onion to get to the core of the need. Be curious and inquisitive about their challenge.

Needs Based Questions: (Choose at least 3 of the questions below)

• What is your current situation?
• What is your current solution?
• What caused you to reach out to us?
• What are your biggest challenges with…?
• When do you need this?
• How much do you need?
• Why is it not working?
• How important is it to prioritize and/or fix this problem?

Now, that you understand their true challenge, you can’t sell yet – even though you think you have the right solution to fix it. Hold your recommendations and ask three more questions about the future and ideal outcome for their business. This will get them sharing more information about their business goals and KPIs. This is critical to getting closer to a yes and to the right solution.

Goals/Ideal Outcome Questions: (Choose at least 3 more questions)

• What are your goals/ideal outcome?
• What KPIs (key performance indicators) does your organization measure?
• What is the one thing that you want to avoid?
• What would make you look good?
• What would make the team/organization look good?
• What is your boss/CEO’s vision?
• Who else would you need to get involved/collaborate to…?

Now, you’re getting so excited because you know your solution will make them look good and will help achieve their business goals, but wait – don’t sell yet. Ask three more killer questions that will help you secure the sale, without even selling. With each question they answer they are giving you the ammunition you need to build an awesome ROI case, so you do not have to reduce your price! 

Business Impact/ROI – Return on Investment Questions: (Choose your next 3 killer questions!)

• What is the impact on your …? (operations, efficiency, inventory, etc.)
• How will this improve your KPIs?
• How will this impact your business long-term?
• What are the consequences if you choose to do nothing?
• How will this impact the profitability of your organization?
• How could this impact your company bonus?
• How much could this make more money/profits in the next three years?
• How can you turn this expense into a long-term investment to make more money for your organization and your dealer channel?

Voila – you now have all the information you need and have probably found that they shared so much more than you had anticipated. Great job! But, don’t sell yet!

Now, summarize their key needs, outcome and business impact. This will demonstrate you were listening, builds credibility and ensures you are both on the same page. This simple step and statement is a game changer in earning trust with your buyer. Don’t skip this step in your sales process, as it only takes 30 seconds and will get you closer to close deals and repeat business.

Now – position your solution as three-options in a working proposal to continue to collaborate with them. This is the next conversation, the solutions conversation in your sales process.