When detectives begin investigating new cases, they try to quickly narrow their targets to only suspects with three “qualifications”: Means, Motive, and Opportunity. Although purchasing a product or service a sale is not a crime, a successful sales process “qualifies” potential clients who share the right qualifications for hot prospects. That is… Means, Motives, and Opportunities.
Successful B2B sales campaigns dive deep by asking many questions, becoming obsessed with the problem at hand, making connections, listening carefully, and discovering information that other people haven’t. Using methodical processes allows you to collect critical facts and better understand the situations or problems that customers are trying to address.
And Rule #1 is LISTEN, according to long-time Silicon Valley executive Joe Schoendorf. A good detective not only listens to what is said but also what is not said, and that can guide follow-up questions. But today’s B2B sales process gets a big boost by taking listening to the next level. You need to listen carefully and document what you hear. That is, put it in the CRM! Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are indispensable for collecting and mining critical details that keep the sales process churning.
But in order to listen, you have to get your customers—both potential and existing—talking. The best lines of questioning reveal what your customers do, why they do it, and where they are in the buyer’s journey… Their Means, Motives, and Opportunities.
Learn from a True Pro
My favorite TV detective, Lieutenant Columbo, was a master at getting his suspects talking. He cleverly teased details out of his suspects with the ultimate goal of getting them to incriminate themselves by revealing Means, Motives, and Opportunities.
Columbo’s talent was extending conversations until his suspect would let their guard down and accidentally reveal a telling detail. One of his signature phrases, after it seemed the conversation was over, and he was walking out of the room, was: “Oh, just one more thing.” The question that followed often seemed to concern a minor detail at the time, but one that would later turn into an important piece of evidence.
Everyone’s sales style is personal, and your sales process should reflect your own personality. But the goal is always to elicit important details from customers about their Means, Motives, and Opportunities. And remember to always put the details into the CRM system.
The Means: Are They Ready to Buy?
Collecting details about both the individual and the company they work for will help you paint a more complete picture of your customer. And the more details in the CRM, the more powerful that tool becomes. What is the size of the company? Do they have a budget? What are they currently buying? Who is the person with purchasing authority?
The Motives: What Benefit Are They Looking For?
Very revealing answers can come from open-ended questions. Sometimes, a simple "Why?" or “Why not?” will open up new opportunities that you hadn’t thought of before. What are the pain points with their current processes? What would be a critical point of differentiation? Is there a way to cut costs? Are they happy with their current level of customer service?
The Opportunities: What Circumstances Might Close a Sale?
More importantly, what is the hurdle preventing a sale. Is it as simple as price point? Or is it a matter of finding the right push at the right time? CRM systems keep opportunities open by pairing with other software to feed marketing campaigns. B2B inside sales still goes hand-in-hand with email campaigns, and the details in your CRM system can be unleashed into marketing campaigns that target customers’ specific needs and desires.
The value of the information you glean from your customers is only truly exploitable if you are using a CRM system. If you’re new to CRM, here are six unbiased tips for choosing a system that will be compatible with your sales process. Using all the tools available to you keeps you moving forward and closing sales ahead of the competition, like the sales shark you know you can be.