QUALIFYING ... sounds more like something a NASCAR driver does just before the big race, or what we all have to do when we’re trying to talk our friendly banker into a loan. But it’s not something that a top-notch sales person does. No, a truly successful sales person thinks a lot deeper than simply “qualifying a prospect”. He or she thinks more like a doctor diagnosing the patient’s illness, or a top-notch detective determining the clues that would solve the big case.

In both of these kinds of situations, in-depth questions are very important, but listening and observation skills are critical. How effective would a doctor or a detective be if they simply took the surface answers that they received? How would you feel about a doctor who handled you in the following manner:

“What seems to be the problem?” Well, you say, “I have this pain in my side”. Doctor: “Uh huh! Sounds like appendicitis to me. I’ll call the hospital and schedule your surgery for first thing tomorrow morning.”

You would probably want a second opinion, wouldn’t you?
No, a good doctor would layer his questions on top of each of the answers, such as:

“Pain, what kind of pain, sharp or dull?”
“Does it hurt all the time or just on occasion when you’re doing certain things?” “When did it start?” etc., etc.

He may probe and feel where the pain is. He may even do an X-ray or MRI to see what’s happening on the inside. But sales people often approach it in a different manner. They simply ask a couple of closed-ended questions and then jump into their presentation.

“Do you play golf?” (Bad question. What if they don’t? After all, only 1% of the people in American do play golf and there are plenty of others with the money who may love the lifestyle you offer. But with that type of question the prospect is put on the defensive. It may trigger a thought such as, “No, do we have to in order to fit in?” Far better to ask, “What type of activities do you folks enjoy?” Or, “What are a couple of the features of a community that would be most important for you?”)

Then layer ... dig deeper. “Oh, really?” What do you enjoy about that? Or “Why is that?” Then sincerely listen, be attentive and observant.

Granted, in a trade-show type of environment, you don’t have the luxury of time. You must have your four or five good open-ended questions not counting the layering of future questions on top of their answers then be able to connect their answers to the features and benefits of your community. Keep in mind, in this type of situation; you are playing the role more of a marketer than a sales person. What’s the difference? In marketing you are only trying to create curiosity in their minds that will cause them to make the appointment to check you out. Your questions and brief presentation should all be aimed at this one purpose creating curiosity. So think. Ask diagnostic questions and detect what really is happening on the inside that has them standing in front of you. You’ll find by displaying this depth of interest and demonstrating sincere attentiveness, a lot more people will want to pay you a visit.

By: Terry L. Weaver, President Marketing and Sales Institute, Inc.

MSI does sales and management training along with marketing consultation for luxury amenity communities throughout the United States, Mexico and the Islands. Phone: 843-706-3872 Email: terry@MSICorp.us