If only we knew which enquiries we were going to win, we could stop wasting our time chasing prospects that simply will not conclude their order with you, or in fact with anyone!

Recent studies have shown that between one and two thirds of enquiries for business services never lead to an order with anyone.

So here are five “hard questions” that will help you filter out those enquiries wasting your time. I am not suggesting you use them as I have written them, some tailoring to your own situation, and that of your customer, will be required.

How important is this purchase to you, right now?

If making a decision now is not really important to the buyer, then how high should it feature on your current follow-up list? Getting clarity on when it might be important and why, will help you prioritise when to follow-up.

What will not happen if you did not proceed with this purchase?

At the heart of this question is the reality that if there are no negative consequences of not proceeding, the likelihood of a decision to proceed is low. These consequences might be failing to reduce costs, improve profits, generate cash, or improve productivity, etc. If this purchase does not reduce pain or provide gain it is unlikely to happen.

What do you think is the biggest risk if you proceed now with buying?

If there is inertia by the buyer or the decision makers, getting a better understanding of their concerns will enable you to develop a plan to explain how these barriers can be overcome, and their risk reduced.

What else should I know, that I do not already know?

We do not know what we do not know.  This is intentionally a broad question to sweep up anything that the buyer is prepared to share. Such as a lack of internal support, perceived poor returns, uncertainty of outcomes, etc. Getting a better understanding of a broader picture may help move this from an opportunity to an order.

How much are you willing to invest to get a return on this?

Experience generally shows that if the customer has not worked out a budget, then they are likely to dodge the answer to this question. Without an agreed budget the customer is unlikely to be ready to buy. So when will the budget be known, and the return on investment calculated? Knowing this will help you prioritise your next steps.

Are these questions that should be asked selectively with some customers?

Absolutely not. If you are not getting the order, then all your prospects should be asked all (or most of) these questions. This will help you understand exactly what is stopping them from going ahead. You will then be able to either move them forward, or move on. This will free you up to give even better service to those ready to buy, and to move on to a larger pipeline of quality prospects.

Next step?

If you would like a confidential discussion on how we can help you to successfully grow your business then send an email to stuart@heart-of-business.co.uk. This is probably the best business investment you will make this year.

About www.HEART-of-business.co.uk

A collaborative business development group. A membership network of business service providers. The mission of the group is to inspire and deliver personal and business growth.

Currently members operate across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Northamptonshire, with ambitions to grow in adjacent counties.