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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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Teleprospecting: Using Open Ended Questions Effectively


Sales Prospecting Perspectives is pleased to bring you another guest entry from one of our BDRs, Jill Ryan. 

In brainstorming what to discuss this week, I decided to address the landscape of what we do and how open ended questions can be helpful for teleprospecting.  As business development representatives (BDRs), our jobs are to extract pains and needs, the business profile, time frame, ultimate decision maker and the budget.

Once I get my contact identified live on the phone and finish qualifying them, I usually hang up victoriously and begin to type up my lead notes for the next step. When I started at AG, I would often draw a blank on the timeframe and budget specifics, but after a few write-ups with ambiguous notes on the budget and time frame-"semi low priority and fiscal year come July 1", the training staff pointed out that the only way to get the meat of those specifics, is to work on open ended questions.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I do not do well with scripts. My personal nightmare is asking someone, "Has budget been allocated or approved for a CRM solution and will you ultimately be releasing the funds". Maybe it's just me, but by the time I arrive at these questions, I've developed a pretty great rapport with this prospect. I find my success is in making a few assumptions and asking open ended questions. No one wants their position down played, so more often then not, I assume that they will affect the decision on some level.  I usually ask if there is anyone they want involved with the discovery call that would impact a next step. This question usually results in the prospect listing 1-2 individuals they would like to invite on the call. From here, I can flow into "okay great, now will this team over see the initiatives for the upcoming fiscal year,", and then make note of the decision maker. After this, the last missing piece of the puzzle is the budget specifics. Given my style of making a few assumptions, I use my previous questions and segway into "great, and are you coming up on a July 1 fiscal year?" There are only two answers that can come out of this question... "Yes or no date XYZ".

The final step in my process is clarifying the level of interest. It is extremely important to find out how serious the prospect is about evaluating come their fiscal year. If this is a call for basic information, it can affect the value of the lead. I use the pains and needs as my driving factor in asking "based on the conversation we had today, if our solution can help enhance your process, is this something you could see evaluated come July 1?"  I make note of the active initiative and the funds that may be allocated, and who the individual is that approves such a budget.

It's hard to forward a qualified lead onto a rep with yes or no answers all over it. If you make a habit of that, they will know absolutely nothing about the person on the other end of the phone.  Our goal as business development reps is to give a client a clear picture of "if and when" an opportunity can be committed to forecast. There are multiple steps taken in committing a prospect to pipeline. It begins with the level of information we extract from that first contact. As BDR's, we set the stage for our clients, so why wouldn't we ask open ended questions? Any one can pop online, research RFPs and CFO's and put together some facts. We're not surveyors we're business development reps.  Our job is to be professional listeners and information gatherers, so why wouldn't open ended questions be our number one tool?  


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