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BILL LEE: Questions Help Salespeople Identify Obstacles

Don’t be afraid to ask prospects what it might take to get the sale.

How long has it been since a prospect gave you a new reason for not doing business with you?

If you’ve been selling for a while and if you are honest with yourself, your answer is probably, “I can’t remember the last time that happened.” Let’s face it, there are a finite number of reasons contractors can possibly have for denying you a piece of their business.

Here are a few of the most popular reasons I have jotted down in my sales career:

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• Your prices are not competitive.
• I am happy with my current supplier.
• One of your predecessors mistreated me several years ago, and I have a long memory.
• I see no reason to change suppliers.
• Your competitor and I are personal friends.
• It’s not personal—I like you a lot—it’s just that I don’t see any reason to change suppliers.

I’ve found that scripting your response to each objection you’re trying to deal with is a great way to help salespeople gain the confidence they need to effectively overcome the objection.

Let’s say, for example, you have a prospect who repeatedly uses price as the number one obstacle preventing him from giving you an order. Here is a scripted response that you might use to help change the conversation:

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“…I understand that price is extremely important to you, but what other issues do we need to resolve before you will feel comfortable giving me an order?”

Asking a well-designed open-ended question is an excellent way to learn what else is on the prospect’s mind. The open-ended question may just open up some other areas of concern that are being masked by the prospects insistence that your prices are too high.

If you were to find yourself up against a prospect who seems to be obsessed with price, here is another pointed question that is designed to help you learn if there are any other obstacles you need to overcome:

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