In sales, the general rule of thumb is, the more complex the product, the longer the sales cycle.
And for some complex products, that might be true. But for others, a single phone call is all it takes to get a deal done.
I close complex training and consulting packages with some of the brightest companies in the world. And usually, I do it over a single conversation. Yep, I have one phone call with the prospect and then send the invoice.
Most salespeople think this is impossible. But with the right step-by-step, single call structure, you too can start closing your deals quicker than ever before.
So the business-winning phone call isn’t a sales myth. It isn’t sales folklore. And it isn’t an old wives’ tale. But it is misunderstood. See, you can’t get any old buyer on the phone and close them in a single conversation.
No, they have to be the right buyer. And the real trouble, the thing that should take the most effort, the most thought, and the most time is qualification. A survey from HubSpot found that the number one challenge for one out of three sales reps is lead qualification. And it’s true, doing it right is tough.
That’s why with the Diagnosis framework we’re going to first discover the pain that the prospect is in, qualify them to see if we should be doing business with them and then close them, in that order.
Most salespeople do this over multiple calls, over multiple weeks. This framework will show you how to do this in just one call and then close the prospect at the end.
The first step is to understand the buyers…
Pain. Is this potential buyer actually in pain right now? Is their problem actually a problem at all?
The buyers you want to work with are feeling the hurt from this problem. And as a result, they’re going to be highly motivated to find the right solution.
Now, a few qualifying questions to ask that’ll get to the bottom of their pain are…
- “You booked this call with me today, what led to getting this call booked in?” and…
- “What’s stopping you from solving this issue yourself?”
Both of these questions should help you get to how big this problem really is for the buyer.
Time. Not all problem and solution timelines are going to line up. And one of your primary concerns when qualifying prospects is what their timeline is for when they need their problem solved.
Are they thinking today? This quarter? Or in the next few years?
If your buyer doesn’t have urgency, they won’t be compelled to act. And as a result, you’ll likely encounter plenty of feet dragging and time-wasting along the way. Best instead to say you’re not a fit early on.
As for qualifying questions here, start with…
- “Do you have a deadline to solve this?”
It’s straightforward, I know. But the answer will give you a clear, no-bullshit timeline that you can work with.
Fit. Can you actually fix this buyer’s problem?
The truth of the matter is there’s no perfect product or service for everyone. And saying otherwise is just playing into the public’s idea of sales reps being con men.
Instead, it’s your job to think of yourself as someone who offers value. And you shouldn’t have to waste time with someone who doesn’t need what you’re selling.
Qualifying questions here are for YOU this time, not the buyer. So ask yourself…
- “Do I have the solution for this buyer’s problem?” and…
- “Do they really need this solution?”
Return. There’s a downside to any solution. Buyers need to change vendors, hire new staff, train on novel systems, or fight for a change to the budget.
The question is, is the value your solution provides worth that discomfort?
How much will they have to change to accommodate it? And when all is said and done, will they look back on the investment as a good purchase or one that ate up too many resources?
Going through this calculation upfront is a must during qualification of sales leads
For qualifying questions here, try…
- “How would things be different if we solved this for you?”
- “What is your motivation to make this happen?”
- “If we took your business from $X to $X, how would that change things?”
These three questions will help you parse out whether your buyer’s willing to put in the effort needed to make this a success.
Process. As an expert on your product, you know what it takes to make using it a success.
But does the buyer know how things are purchased in their organization? Do they know who needs to be involved? What training needs to be done? What process did you need to follow to get the project implemented.
You can uncover this by asking…
- “When your organization has done similar projects in the past, what paperwork process needed to happen?”
This will give you a clearer idea of what lies ahead should the buyer be a reasonable fit.
Budget. As touchy of a subject as budget can be, it’s absolutely essential that you get a feel for your buyer’s budget before you start working with them.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to lead the call with questions about money. And in fact, doing so may turn off the prospect from the outset, sinking any hopes of a deal.
Instead, lead up to budgetary questions. Handle the subject professionally and use direct communication. Think of it as just another aspect of the qualification process.
And use these questions to get the necessary details without scaring off the buyer.
- “How are projects like this funded?”
- “Is a project like this in this year’s budget?”
- “What financial scope do you have to solve this issue?”
Champion. With sales, your buyer’s decision is often going to be influenced by other individuals in the business. It could be heads of other departments, higher-ups in the C-suite, or even influential team members below them.
That’s why it’s important to figure out who these other individuals (or “champions”) are before you decide the buyer’s a fit.
Doing so clues you into whether the buyer is the final decision maker and if there’s someone else you should be talking to instead.
The main qualifying question here should be…
- “Who is the person that people look up to within your department on projects like this?”
This subtle approach will help you uncover any other decision-makers that may influence the passing of the deal.
Agreement. As a sales professional, it’s up to you to get your buyer’s verbal commitment on the call. Otherwise, they’re liable to walk away after days or even weeks of your hard work, leaving you out weeks or even months of hard work.
So when you’ve determined that a buyer is a solid lead, don’t hang up the phone before asking this discovery call question.
- “You’re a good fit to work with us. If we can solve X, will you commit to Y?”
This time-tested formula has it all—validation, a hint of flattery, results anchoring. By asking this question, you’re tying your solution to a specific result. And equally importantly, you’re influencing the buyer to commit to that solution, provided you can achieve the results you promise.
After that, the only thing left to do is nail down the specifics and sign the papers.
No matter how complex your product is, how many moving parts your solution may have, it is possible to win business on a single call. All it takes is asking the right questions and qualifying prospects according to the right structure.