Most of the content I share is from personal experience and a blended mix of what I've learned over the years.

But every now and then, someone else thinks of system that is just to perfect not to steal verbatim. This is one of those cases (although much of this is paraphrased).

In his book, 20 days to the Top by Brian Sullivan (a book my dad recommended to me years ago), Sullivan discusses what he calls the CLEAR line of questioning.

And it is genius for a couple of reasons...

  1. Since its an acronym, it's easy to remember, especially when you are caught off guard.
  2. It works in almost ANY sales situation where you are meeting someone for the first time, or quoting a product you don't have much experience with. 

Let's say you are meeting a customer for the first time to discuss an issue they need fixed. After you get all the details about the customers timeline, budget (if possible), and other needs and desires about the project, now is the time to start feeling your way through the sales process. 

This is where 90% of sales are won or lost, so be ready to ask questions and take good notes. If you don't collect the right information here, even if you are great at follow-up, it won't matter. 

The "C.L.E.A.R." questions might sound something like (not as robotic though).

  • "Who are you currently using for service"?
  • "Have you been using anyone else, or are you looking at any other contractors?"
  • "What do you like (or find most effective) about your current service contractor?"
  • "If you could alter anything about the process with your current service contractor, what would that be?
  • "Who, in addition to yourself, is responsible for a purchasing decision like this?"

Did you notice the acronym? 

  • Currently using
  • Looking at other contractors?
  • Find most Effective?
  • What would you Alter?
  • Who's Responsible?

Why is this so powerful? 

C- You know who you're competing with, so if/when you get an objection about your competitor, you are ready for it.
L- If you don't ask this, you might get an objection about a competitor that you haven't researched, and won't be ready to handle the objection.
E- If your prospect really likes something about your competitior, make sure you can meet or exceed the expectation.
A- This is so important. If your prospect tells you something they don't like about a competitor, you can use this during the pitch and the close. Not in a sneaky way, but just to paint the picture of why you have the best solution.  
R- This one should be self explanatory. If you aren't working with the decision maker, make every effort to get to that person. 

These questions could also be PRODUCT specific: 

  • "What brand are you typically buying"? [C]
  • "Have you been looking at any other brands?" [L]
  • "What do you like about those brands?" [E]
  • "If you could dream up the perfect unit, what features would you add, change or remove? [A]
  • "What does your buying process look like?" [R]

Practice this a until you have it memorized. Find a way add it to your sales process.

Hope this helps you win more business and close more deals!

 
 

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Brad Telker
Director of Commercial Sales at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Director of Commercial Sales, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys photography, running and spending time with his family.


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