You made the original prospecting call, you got the appointment (face to face, telephone or online), and you delivered your pitch. Now what? You are at a critical stage in the sales process, and it is vital you know exactly what is going to happen next.

Unfortunately, many salespeople do not get a firm commitment from their prospects with respect to the next steps. They hear, “Let me think about it” or “Let me run this past my boss” or “I’ll get back to you in a couple of days,” and they think the sales process is moving forward.

However, the truth is that these brush-off statements indicate that the prospect has little or no intention of moving forward. At this stage of the game, it is important to start asking tough questions — questions that will prompt your prospect to think about the decision-making process, questions that your competition is not asking, questions that help you clearly understand what you need to do to keep the ball rolling.

Here are a few questions to ask at this stage of the sales process:

  • How do decisions of this nature typically get made?
  • Who else needs to get involved? Who else do you normally consult with?
  • How do we get everyone moving together on this initiative?
  • Whose budget does this affect? What is your budgeting cycle?
  • How did your current program get implemented?
  • Where do we go from here? What are the next steps?

A word of caution with this last question: If your prospect says something such as “I need to check with Ms. X,” work at getting a commitment to have a conversation with that person. Otherwise, you run the risk that the sales process will grind to a halt and you will end up with “no sale.”

Don’t end your important first conversation without knowing exactly what is going to happen next and what action you and your prospect are required to take. Clear objectives and firm deadlines can put you on the fast track to your next sale.

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