Finish the Year Strong by Qualifying Customers

Sell out of end-of-year inventory by properly qualifying customers and spending your sales time wisely.

As the season begins to wind down, it’s important to take advantage of every selling opportunity that is presented to you. The last thing you want to do, is carry extra equipment through the winter.

During this time of year there are fewer people walking through the doors of dealerships. That is why it’s so important to take advantage of each conversation you have the chance to have. But before you spend your time and effort going through a full-blown presentation, it makes sense to spend a little time determining if you are even in front of someone who is in a position to buy.   

The qualifying process

I have always found it to be a useful when I am selling to have a process in place to determine if a prospect is someone I can truly turn into a customer. For each prospect I meet, they need to qualify for me to seriously invest time in them.

Keep in mind that while you will find situations where a prospect doesn’t meet all your qualifying criteria, that doesn’t mean that you simply blow them off as unimportant. In those situations, still spend a little time with them to build a relationship. Then if at some point in the future they are in a position to buy—or they know someone who might be in a position to buy—you are ready to make a sale happen. 

Their current situation

In the equipment business, selling is a relational process and as I take a prospect through my qualification process I want to be sure that I am making them as comfortable as possible. The first question I like to ask is a simple: “Do you have one now?” type question. If you have a prospect looking at a zero-turn mower, a UTV or a tractor, then I would ask them, “Do you currently have a (zero-turn mower, UTV or a tractor)? If they say yes, then I follow up with “What do you have and what do you like most about it?”

If they have a competitor’s product but they are in my dealership, I know that my competitor has dropped the ball somewhere along the way and I can use that to my advantage later in the selling process. By them telling me what they like most about what they have I can make sure when I am presenting them with my product that I spend time highlighting how my equipment provides the same features that they like with their current equipment. 

If they don’t currently have what they are looking to buy, then my question would be more along the lines of what brought them to my dealership and what is their interest in the particular lines that I carry. Again, my goal is to understand why they came to me so I can use that later in the sales presentation process. 

Likes and dislikes

My next question is: “So if you could change or improve anything about the equipment you have now, what would it be?” Asking this allows me to target my sales presentation on key selling points rather that dumping information about every feature my equipment has. If the customer doesn’t bring it up in their answer to this question, I probably won’t highlight it in my presentation to them. 

Money matters

I then transition in to the money question and ask, “So if you found what you were looking for, what sort of budget are you trying to stick with?” It’s important that I make sure that what I am going to lead them to is within range (15 to 20%) of what they want to spend. 

Decision maker

My next question involves the time frame they are looking at making a decision in—so I can determine what level I want to take them into the presentation. My final question involves asking about who will make the final decision to move forward. It’s a delicate question so I normally ask: “Who other than yourself would be involved in making the final decision?” I learned long ago in sales to never assume that you are talking with the decision maker. I always ask to make sure that a wife, brother, partner or someone else doesn’t need to be involved before I start the presentation. 

The end of the sales year leaves no time to waste on a sales pitch that is going nowhere. Developing good qualifying questions will give you the ability take advantage of those final sales of the season—adding extra dollars of profit to your pocket.