We’ve Been To Your Web Site (Issue 717)

In which we ask a question: How to respond when a prospect or client calls, having done most of the "buying" process on their own.

This week: A Clarity Question. We’d love to read your thoughts in response:


We got a call from a company with which we’d never done business: “Hi, we’ve looked at your web site, we really like your Talking Business with Small Business™ program and we think we’d like to put 50 people through it. Will you send us pricing?”

Fill in the blank with your products: Always good to receive a “we want to buy call.” What to do at that moment?

A recent Corporate Executive Board study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier.

60% … That’s a long way down the road down which we might normally have walked them– educating them, helping them establish clear criteria and align their organizations to make the best use of our products .

So, what to do at that “we’ve looked at your web site, please send us pricing” moment? Take the order? Risk irritating your prospective new client by backing them up and working them through the decision process?

What do you think?


3 Responses to We’ve Been To Your Web Site (Issue 717)

  1. Bill Thoma says:

    Neil Rackham actually had the foresight to predict this in one of the last books in the SPIN selling series (at least one of the last books I am aware of).

    When dealing with a potential buyer that “knows what they want, and just needs pricing”, I modified the Situation questions (etc.) to inquire about aspects of the purchase, such as where they are in the purchase process – if the request is for budget preparation I am going to respond differently than if pricing is for the purchase order (it rarely is).

    If I can not get them engaged enough to get to Needs it is pretty clear that the inquiry is not going to qualify for forecasting. Hopefully my attentiveness will demonstrate to them a concern for their process and when the opportunity does become “real” they will follow up with me.

  2. john hoskins says:


    Regardless of the situation the old maxim of “Sure, happy to give that to you, before I quote would you mind if I asked you a couple of questions so I can give you the right numbers? Magic question many reps never ask but start spraying and praying.

    I think its different when the client has previous experience in using the product versus a first time buyer. At Xerox Learning Systems and Advantage we would have clients call that moved from one company to another. They would say – I want to train my sales people in PSS and want to get pricing. The last thing you want to do is ask a bunch of situation questions that provide no value to the buyer and run the risk of irritation. So, ask the question above – and then start to understand how they will implement. You train, they train, how many, when, where, custom cases or generic, manager’s involved in the training, follow up and reinforcement. At a minimum that will get the conversation going.

    Now seems if they never bought before they are still beyond recognition of needs, maybe they are “evaluating options or even beyond decision and think implementation.
    How about a quick recap – Well Mr. Jones, grateful for your call. Repeat the magic question…then perhaps the discussion starts at implementation. Well Mr Jones sounds like you have recognized a need to have your reps have better business conversations with prospects, and in evaluating your options found us, before I quote would you mind if I asked you a couple of questions so I can give you the right numbers?

    Then after the ice is broken you can back track on the buying cycle to need. Ok, great thats everything I need to give you a firm fixed fee for our services. BTW, just so I model what our own program teaches, would you mind giving me the readers digest on what is driving your decision to train and what results we want to achieve from the training?

    What do you think?

  3. Dave Scribner says:

    Two thoughts come to mind; one revolves around the fact that so much more data is available to the buyer as compared to 15-20 years ago. Back then it was that data (product information, company history, etc.) that the salesperson delivered to the potential customer. As Neil Rackham said in a later book, this information represented a large part of the “value” that the salesperson delivered. With the internet, the life of the salesperson is more challenging and he/she must “create” value, according to Rackham. To create value, the salesperson needs to get involved much earlier in the buying process which only will come with skill and time. The second thought is that first and foremost it is important to answer the question . The trick is to do it in a way that causes the customer to think or to ask you a question with the goal of opening the door for more discussion. Something like, “I will be happy to get an estimate of price for you. Most clients want training that is low-cost, quick, and effective. The reality is that it is only possible to have any two of the three, but not all three. Which are most important to you?

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