Cluck Cluck Sales Chicken

Cluck Cluck Sales Chicken

You’ve heard the phrase: there’s no such thing as a stupid question. In sales there is. The questions you don’t ask because you’re chicken.

Don’t get me wrong – I have clucked my way through so many sales meeting that it’s surprising I didn’t end up as a peri-peri chicken at Nando’s. King size portion at that.

But every so often (when the year was nearly over and I had achieved less than 1% of the target) I ‘plucked up’ the courage to ask the questions that sales people in the know call:

THE FEARFUL FOUR

  1. Is there a budget?
  2. Who owns the budget?
  3. Who is the decision maker?
  4. What are the timescales?

Without them you’ll end up running around like a headless chicken chasing a never closing deal, with the prospect of either getting fired or being sent to the ‘death zone’ (account management).

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by putting anything about product/service fit – as that is a given and not difficult to talk about. I have spent many a sales meeting focused on the presentation, objectives, technical requirements and deadlines, only to return to the office and become chicken feed when my manager asked ‘Do they have money to spend?’ Cluck, cluck, cluck.

I hear you shout ‘But sometimes it’s a chicken and egg situation! If the product doesn’t fit their requirements – what’s the use of asking anything else?’ Very true – and prospects won’t (quite rightly) provide information if they don’t first see value.

But once the value of your product or service has been established having these questions answered is essential.

Early in my sales career I was lucky enough to ‘shadow’ one of the best sales people I have ever met. It was early April and he had already smashed the year’s target and was sandbagging other deals because he was maxed out on commission. (Sales people sandbagging? Neveeerr … please delete that last phrase.)

I’ll call him Mark, (because that’s his name), a soft spoken guy with glasses who looked more like a biology teacher than a corporate sales guy. At the end of every meeting he’s say:

‘I just want to see if we have all the information I need. ’

And then would proceed to read the FEARFUL FOUR with the respective answers (or lack of).

‘If you don’t have the information, it’s time to ask. If they don’t want to provide it, that’s also information you need to use’.

As in investigate why they are resisting to answer them, who is blocking the procedure and why – you get the picture.

I met up with Mark a couple of weeks ago, and he told me he had toyed with the idea of tattooing the FEARFUL FOUR into the palm of his hands, but then thought better of it. Mark took early retirement (at 45!) and lives in in Menorca. Guess sandbagging worked just fine.

Stop clucking – start asking.

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This article was published in Sales Initiative

Sonia Aste is a stand up comedian and a sales gal.

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