Using the CONSULT method, part 2

Asking effective and open-ended questions

Previously, we discussed why it’s so important to focus on the customer during the qualification phase and how it’s vital to find a sales framework that lets you ask the right questions. We developed the CONSULT method for early-stage startups qualifying potential customers.

Let’s zero in on each of the elements of the CONSULT method and look at examples of what elegant, open-ended questions for each might look like.

C: Current process

Understand what your prospect’s current process and workflow are as they relate to what your solution offers.

  • How are you currently doing [X]?
  • Can you please tell me about your current process?
  • What is working well with this process?

O: Ongoing challenges and pain

Deter mine what challenges the prospect is experiencing with their current process or product. Remember, no pain = no sale. Once you identify the challenges, you can start to shift the conversation to how your product or service can help solve them.

  • What are some of the challenges with your current process or way of doing things?
  • If you could improve certain areas of the process what would you do?
  • Are these challenges business-critical?

N: Needs and product requirements

Once you’ve identified the prospect’s pain points, you’ll want to understand what is important to them when they evaluate solutions. Don’t be afraid to ask!

  • What is important to you in a solution?
  • What criteria do you use to evaluate solutions?
  • What would the perfect solution look like?

S: Success criteria

The goal here is to understand what success looks like to the customer after adding a new solution. Think about it from the buyer’s perspective: What is the goal for them? Is it a quick implementation? Working with an existing tech stack? Creating a certain report? Achieving a certain metric?

  • If you fast-forward to after you have implemented a solution, what does success look like?
  • What is the end goal for this project?
  • What metrics will you review to determine if a product will work for you?

U: Understanding of the evaluation process

How will the customer evaluate your solution and where will the money for it come from?

  • Tell me about the evaluation process that you will run for [X].
  • How does your organization or department buy software?
  • Has your organization bought [X] solutions before?

L: Leadership involved in making the decision

Find out which people are involved in making the decision to buy and implement a product or solution.

  • Who will be involved in this evaluation?
  • Are there any other people we should include in ongoing discussions who will be involved in the process?
  • Who else will be using the product?

T: Timelines and priority

The goal here is to determine by when the customer wants to make the decision and how much of a priority it is for the business. Remember: interest does not imply urgency.

  • When would you like to make a decision by?
  • Is this a priority for the organization? When would you like to be live with the solution?
  • Why is this a priority for the business now?