The questions you ask prospects in the early stages of a sale can make a world of difference to your business.
Questions not only serve as a tool to understand the needs of a person but also to qualify businesses for your services.
Contrary to common behavior, it’s important to turn away a large portion of businesses that come your way.
The downsides of going into business with a company that’s unsuited for your digital marketing services far outweigh the benefit of a quick buck.
Believe me, it’s not worth it to go into business with people who a) have unrealistic expectations b) are perpetually dissatisfied with the people they work with and c) don’t have the processes in place to fully take advantage of your services.
For this reason, it’s vital to go into every sales conversation with a digital marketing questionnaire to weed out the good clients from the bad ones.
I’ve compiled a list of 14 pre-templated questions that can, and should, be used on any sales call.
This client questionnaire is laid out in a way that is chronological and each question builds/transitions from the last.
The way you phrase each of these questions should definitely vary depending on the person you’re speaking with and the industry they’re in.
Pay close attention to the way you ask these questions as much as the words themselves.
Your tonality can spell the difference between being polite or intrusive…
1. What interested you in jumping on a call today?
I’ve found this phrase to be a great open ended question for nearly any discovery call. Although it is likely you pushed for the call, this question subtly infers the prospect was the one who wanted to jump on call; framing you as the buyer in the relationship.
This question has the added benefit of being open ended. Out of nervousness, prospects will tend to say more than necessary and give away key bits of information about their pain points and goals.
You can use this new intelligence to guide the rest of your conversation towards the sale.
2. How many years have you been doing this for?
People like talking about their business almost as much as they love talking about themselves. Your prospect’s company is likely an extension of themselves if they are a small business owner. Appeal to their ego and focus your attention on them.
This question will give you an idea of how successful they are while keeping the conversation light.
A general principle of asking questions in a sales conversation is start broad and get more specific later on. A broad question like this gets you some high level information while not setting off any walls of resistance in the individual.
3. What got you into this business?
Another broad, light question meant to elicit values of the business owner.
This question should pull out the deep emotional reasons why the business owner does the things they do. You may commonly hear stories about money being tight and having to provide for their family. If this is the case, make sure to mention family in your presentation to appeal to their values.
4. Where’s your business at right now and where would you like to be in a couple years?
The sole intention with this question is to quickly judge the ambition of the business owner and their current progress towards their goals.
Someone with huge goals but little progress could be a dreamer with unrealistic expectations.
5. On average, how many new customers is your team getting per month?
Now that you know the future goals of the prospect it’s time to get more specific with where they are at right now. This question is going to subtly shed light on the gap between the prospects goals and their current state.
The idea is to make it very clear that they are going to need to do something if they want to reach the goals previously mentioned.
6. How many new customers a month is enough for you?
This is another test of ambition as well expectations. Essentially, the answer to this question will tell you what type of numbers to throw out to the lead once you start pitching your services. It’s important to center your estimates around the client’s expectations because anything too far outside their range is unbelievable. Otherwise, they’ll think your offer is too good to be true and that you’re just trying to make a sale.
7. Will you plan on hiring once you reach capacity?
Obviously, you want to work with clients that are looking to grow. The more a client grows with you the more you’ll get paid. However, this question serves an even subtler purpose. Inherent in this question is the belief that your services will (for certain) help them reach their goals. In fact, the end result is so certain that you better start planning for it beforehand.
8. Who’s an ideal customer for you?
People love customized offers. Ask leads this question to create the perception (and reality) that you care about providing them a solution that is exceptional. This question lowers the prospect’s defenses and tells them, “I care about getting you the best result possible.”
9. What would you estimate is the lifetime value of a customer for your business?
Two important pieces of information should amount from asking this question…
1) What is the value of a customer for the business
2) How advanced is the company with their sales process
The first bit of information is important in terms of presenting your pricing. You can revert back to this customer value if/when the client makes an objection around cost.
The second part gives you insight into how effect the company is with their sales process. You don’t want to work with a company that has a shaking sales systems because it’s unlikely they’ll be able to properly handle the leads you produce for them. Regardless of the fact that this isn’t your fault, you’ll still get blamed.
Generally, if a company has a good read on the average value of a customer, this is a really good sign that they have good sales processes in place.
10. How much are you looking to budget for digital marketing?
This question immediately tells you the price sensitivity of your prospect and their expectations. People who answer much lower than what’s needed are either uninformed or cheap.
Either way, expect to get some resistance at the sale based on pricing with these types of prospects.
11. Have you invested in digital marketing in the past? If so, what were the results?
It’s generally good to hear a ‘yes’ response from this. Companies that have been sold before can be sold again.
The main thing to look out for in their response is any emotionally charged statements about the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts or the companies they hired.
You’ll oftentimes hear business owners say, “I tried it but it didn’t work.” Make sure to dig deeper when you get responses like this and follow-up with, “what about it didn’t meet your standards?”
Ask these follow-up questions about the companies they hired as well and you’ll get a whole slew of buying objections and beliefs you’ll eventually need to overcome later in the conversation.
12. What does your sales process look like from initial contact to close? Who is involved, when, and how?
This is another question meant to judge how seriously the prospect takes their sales. A prospect that scoffs at this question or gives a vague/basic response likely doesn’t have the greatest sales system in place.
On the other hand, companies that know the detailed steps of their sales funnels will likely be good clients to send leads to.
Further, this is something you’ll need to know anyways once you begin implementing a digital marketing campaign. The more you know about their sales process the more you can work to find innovative ways to integrate their internet marketing with the sales side of their business.
13. Is there any way you differentiate your process, service, or offering from competitors?
This question is another highly specific inquiry aimed at judging the complexity of the project at hand.
You’ll likely be able to produce exceptional results for a client that has an offer that’s irresistible so I like to pull this out in the sales conversation and hit on it hard during the pitch.
14. Do you have any special offers for new customers?
Many times, business owners won’t have a clear answer to the question above so you may have to guide them by asking about offers. Offers are just one form of differentiation but it’s a start to at least jog their brain for ideas.
As you may have noticed, most of these questions have a deeper purpose than what is on the surface.
Yes, they’re meant to pull logical information from the business owner about their business but more importantly, they illicit objections, needs, beliefs, and even frame your services in a way that is more conducive to a sale.
Hopefully this marketing client questionnaire helps you on your next sales call! Keep in mind, the discovery phase is only the beginning stage of how to sell digital marketing services so make sure to read our other articles on the digital marketing pitch presentations.
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