You only get one first appointment with a prospect—never waste one again.
If you don’t have a list of first appointment questions, you need one. Don’t waste that irreplaceable time by inquiring into the same generalities and presenting the same company overview that your buyer hears from every salesperson who walks through their door. Don’t go prepared to talk; go prepared to listen.
And more than that, show them that you intend to add value—not only to their organization, but to them personally. Here are five first appointment questions that your competition probably isn’t asking.
1. How has this issue impacted your business?
This question not only addresses the issues they want fix, but it opens the door to the degree the issue affects them. Listen carefully to your prospect’s response for what is important both to your prospect and to their organization—they should overlap, but they might not be identical. You might find that the company is doing well, but the department your contact manages is affected by this issue. If you can solve problems for the company… that’s good. But if you can solve a problem for the decision-maker… that’s great!
2. What’s the best way for me to stay in communication with you?
This question is not about personality or communication style; you want cold, hard facts. Find out what technology—email, cell phone, text—and cadence your prospect wants you to employ, and then stick to it. Violating their preferred method of communication can derail the opportunity. Asking good questions is key.
3. Aside from our products and services, can you describe the customer experience that you’d like to have with us?
Your prospect wants more than just a good product at a good price. They want value. So… give it to them. They might also want to tell you about past negative experiences with companies like yours. You’ll learn how to avoid repeating them. They might want faster technical support to reduce downtime. In addition, they may want a single point of contact, confidence by knowing your manager, and regular check-ups to ensure results are delivered, etc. The best way to find out the customer experience they want is to ask them.
4. How do you define success for a project like this?
This powerful question works no matter how prepared your prospect is for it. If they know what specific outcomes they are looking for, you’ve brought clarity to the deal. If they don’t, then you know you have an opportunity to add customer value through consultative sales. Regardless, you need to define for yourself what their goal is so you can determine if and/or how you can achieve it.
Make this question even more powerful by personalizing it with this follow-up: What specific outcomes would equate to success for YOU on this project?
5. How does this initiative fit into your overall strategy?
Asking this strategic question last can help you add context to the other answers as well as provide critical information for use when you present possible solutions later. A good solution that does not fit with the direction of the company or is counter to their strategy simply won’t work – not matter how much you believe in your product or service.
Never waste another minute of a buyer’s time—or yours. Bring clarity to your relationship, build the foundation for an unparalleled customer experience, and begin to create a value proposition unique to your prospect by asking these five first appointment questions.