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A Thing The Four Ws

The Four Ws

As you know, selling involves a tremendous amount of information gathering. You already know WHAT you're selling but you still need to find out the WHY, WHERE, WHO, and WHEN of the sale.


Identifying a reason for buying is imperative to a successful meeting. Knowing what motivates the prospect will help you position your service so that you make the sale. But how?

Use the answers to probing questions, such as the ones below, to help figure out WHY this merchant is in the market for your service and how you should tailor your presentation to meet those needs.

  1. What motivated you to meet with a representative from my company?


  2. You haven't used a check (bankcard service) in the past, have you? What prompted you to shop for one today?


  3. How does my service fit in your business plan?


  4. What do you expect from this service?


After you've taken the time to investigate why a merchant wants a service such as yours, now you need to find out WHERE the decision power lies. In other words, is this person the decision-maker? To find out, try the following questions:

  1. Is the responsibility of this decision spread across several people?


  2. Will your supervisor have any input?


  3. How many people are involved in the decision to purchase?


  4. Who will sign the agreement?


What about your competition? We all perform better if we know what we're up against. If you know whom else the prospect is considering, you can highlight the features and benefits you offer which the competition just can't. You can also anticipate objections, which will arise when comparing your company to another. Find out WHO your competition is by asking the following:

  1. What motivated you to meet with a rep from my company, rather than someone else's?


  2. What other solutions have you considered?


  3. From your point of view, do we have any competition?


Once you have the answers to these questions, you'll know:

WHY the merchant is shopping for a service, WHERE the decision power is and WHO your competition really is, but you may still be uncertain if you should go for the close. If you go in too soon, the prospect may feel threatened and you'll lose the sale. Too late, and the prospect may go somewhere else. The answers to the following will help you know WHEN to go for the close:

  1. Are you planning to start right away or do you have a long-range plan?


  2. What steps does your company execute when going through a purchasing decision like this?


  3. When would you like your terminal programmed and ready for transactions?


Getting the answers to WHY, WHERE, WHO and WHEN will get you WHAT you want: The Sale!

Good Selling!

Paul H. Green