Building a Profitable Sales Process - Qualify the Opportunity

Qualification, Sales Process, Close more business, hope is not a strategy, wishful thinking, sales people, sales manager, pipeline, building a profitable sales process, quote and hope, sales effectiveness, sales coaching, Mike Carroll, Intelligent Conversations, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sales consultant, Objective Management GroupHere's a radical idea - let's have your sales team qualify opportunities before you prepare a quote!  Too many sales organizations seem to use a "quote and hope" strategy that rarely drives consistent revenue growth.

Continuing our series on Building a Profitable Sales Process, this post will cover step 8 - qualifying the opportunity.

 

 
  

 

If you asked your sales people and sales managers what's the most important area to explore in the qualification process you'll probably hear "budget".  And that's good, profitable business begins by working with customers who can afford your product or service.  But there is much more to the qualification process than just finding out if they can afford to pay you.

Here are eight (8) questions to have your sales managers ask when coaching your sales people to review opportunities at the "qualification" stage of your sales process:

  1. Have we uncovered all of the issues and do we fully understand the impact our product or service will have on the prospect's situation?
     
  2. Does the prospect agree with all the issues we have identified and do they have urgency to make a change?
     
  3. Have we discussed the investment required to implement our solution or purchase our product and does the prospect understand the value this investment will create?
     
  4. Do we understand the prospect's timeline for when they need our product or solution and do we have the capacity to take on this work within the timeline the prospect requires?
     
  5. Do we understand the prospect's decision process, know all of the stakeholders involved, and have a strategy to leverage our advocates and covert (or at least neautralize) our detractors?
     
  6. Have we asked enough questions about the competitive context in which the prospect is making this decision?  Do we know the advantages our solution provides and how these advantages fit into and align with their buying criteria?
     
  7. Do we have all of the technical information we need to produce an accurate quote?  Has the prospect provided contact information for any technical people on their side (engineers, quality control, etc.) we may need to contact with clarifying questions as we prepare our quote?
     
  8. Have we clearly defined what happens when the prospect receives our quote?  Has the prospect agreed to make a decision?  Have we set up a meeting to review the quote and go over any questions?
And of course there may be more questions your sales manager should add that are specific to your business.  What would happen if your sales managers regularly asked these types of questions of your sales people?
Would the quality of your quotes and estimates go up?  Would the total number of quotes sent out go down?  Would your sales people win more deals?  
  
Free analysis report - download it here
Too many companies use a "quote and hope" strategy where their sales people use the quoting process as a means to have the discovery conversation they should have had earlier in the sales process.
  
Too many sales people waste valuable company resources preparing unqualified quotes. And too many sales people (and sales managers) mistake "being busy" with "being productive."   
What would happen to your sales results if your team consistently took a more disciplined approach to the qualification stage of your sales process? 
 

Free analysis report
Does your sales team have the skills and strengths to effectively qualify the opportunities in your sales funnel? What challenges and weaknesses get in their way?  Who on your team is capable of selling at a higher margin?  Who can you save and who should you consider replacing or putting into a different role within your organization?

If you're not sure how to answer these questions, ask us for a free overview of our newest tool - the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis™ - and we will follow up with you to find out if it makes sense to talk about helping your sales organization become more effective.

Building a Profitable Sales Process - Make Every Appointment Count

All of the work your sales people are doing at the front of the sales process (identifying the right targets and making initial contact to get an appointment) is a waste of time if they blow the appointment.  What needs to happen to make every appointment count?

Here are five (5) key goals every sales person on your team should focus on when they get in front of a prospective buyer:

 

Sales appointment, asking great sales questions, discovery process, make every appointment count, building a profitable sales process, Milwaukee sales consulting, Intelligent Conversations, Mike Carroll, Sales Expert, Objective Management Group, coaching

1) Set Clear Expectations

A sales appointment isn't just about having a nice conversation and hoping a next step results.

Your sales people should make it clear - right at the beginning of the appointment - why they are there and what they want to accomplish.  

 

 

Something as simple as "I have a lot to learn about your situation so I'm going to ask you a lot of questions; I'm sure you'll probably have a lot of questions for me; so let's ask all of our questions and by the end of our discussion if it seems like we might be able to help you we can talk about potential next steps.  And if it doesn't make sense, I'll let you know.  Does that sound fair?"  

 

2) Ask Great Questions
Questions are the answer. Too many sales people show up and start talking about all the features and benefits of their product without ever asking the prospective customer what is important to them.

Instead of diving right into a demo or launching into a presentation, what would happen if your sales people asked questions that made the prospect think about their issues and challenges differently?  What would happen to your revenue if your sales people were more memorable?  Do they have the skills they need to drive this type of conversation and help a prospect discover the gap between where they are now and where they could be if they worked with your company?

 

3) Create Urgency
Will a prospect feel compelled to take action by the end of the conversation your sales people typically have during an initial appointment?  Or will they politely say "thank you" and get on with the rest of their day?  The questions your sales people ask...the areas they explore to identify issues and challeges....the way they summarize and recap what the prospect says...all of these things should drive the prospect to want to take action (whether with your company or with someone else).  A run-of-the-mill demonstration or presentation doesn't do this.


4) Ask Questions 3-deep
When your sales people are asking great questions and creating urgency, make sure they don't rush through each issue in a hurry to get to the end of the call. Slow down!

Ask follow up questions. Ask questions about when the issues identified first showed up. What impact is it having on their business? What would they do if they didn't have theses issues? How would that translate to improved revenue or greater efficiency or stronger margins or a faster product launch?  And what would that mean to their business?  Chances are your sales people rush right past these issues and move onto the next area they want to explore. What would happen to your sales pipeline and the quality of your proposals if everyone on your sales team slowed down and asked at least 3 questions for every issue they uncover?


5) Concise Summary and Next Steps
After spending enough time asking questions and exploring each area (at least 3 questions deep), your sales people need to master the skill of summarizing what they've heard into clear, crisp bullet points that get right to the heart of the matter.  At this point they should know whether or not it makes sense to discuss next steps. If the prospect doesn't have the types of problems your company can solve....or if they have these probelems but they are not urgent enough to be a high priority....stop the process and let the prospect know that while you might be able to help them eventually, right now may not be the best time to move forward. They will thank your sales person for being direct and honest. And if they had the right conversation (great questions, strong follow up questions, and a succintct summary of the situation) they will call you back when the timing is right.  

And the other side of that coin is when the prospective buyer has urgent needs and is a great fit for your prodcut or service, the clear next step will be to talk about how you deliver, what the investment requirements and terms might be, and how you might work together. In other words, a qualification discussion.

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Qualifying all of the areas necessary to move an opportunity forwared in a profitable sales process will be the focus of our next article in this series.  

 

Sales Effectiveness & Improvement Analysis
How long is your sales cycle? Could it be shorter? What would your business look like if it were? Are your sales managers capable of coaching your team to set strong agreements at the beginning and end of each sales meeting they go to? 

Need answers? Ask for a free overview of our newest tool - the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis - and we will follow up with you to find out if it makes sense to talk about helping your sales organization become more effective.

 

 


Harvard Study Explains Why Sales People Talk Too Much

Sales Blog, CEO sales blog, Intelligent Conversations, sales questions, Mike Carroll, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Objective Management Group Partner, OMG Partner, Sales Team Effectiveness, Sales Results, Revenue GrowthAn article in today's Wall Street Journal caught my eye, "Science Reveals Why We Brag So Much."  It talks about a Harvard University study that finds:

"Talking about ourselves...triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money..." It goes on to say "In several tests, (the neuroscientists) offered volunteers money if they chose to answer questions about other people...rather than themselves...Despite the financial incentive...(volunteers) willingly gave up between 17% and 25% of their potential earnings."

Ask a sales manager who has been on a joint sales call recently and they'll tell you the test subjects got off easy.  When sales people talk about themselves instead of engaging the prospective customer in tough, timely questions they almost certainly give up more than 17% to 25% of their potential earnings!

This is one of the most common issues we run into when we work with a sales team.  Instead of asking good, tough, timely questions....questions that help the prospect think about their situation in a new way....questions that challenge the way a prospect is doing things currently....questions that reframe the issue and create urgency....questions that highlight the consequences of NOT acting to fix a problem....questions that help your sales person earn respect and credibility....questions that uncover compelling reasons for the prospect to move forward and more importantly to move forward with your company.  Instead of doing all of that, what do most sales people do?  What do your sales people do?

If they're like many of the sales people we meet when we first get started, they probably do exactly what the test volunteers in the Harvard Study did.  They talk about themselves.  They talk about their product.  They talk about the features and benefits of their service.  In short, they puke all over themselves and stick to what they know rather than engaging the prospect in a real conversation by asking great questions.

What would happen to your revenue growth if your sales people learned a different lesson from this Harvard Study?  What if they learned how to ask good, tough, timely questions that got your prospects talking about their problems and challenges?  About their strategies and plans?  About their company and their job?

This study cuts both ways. When your sales team learns to get out of their own way and ask questions that get your prospective customers talking, you'll have more awards to hand out and bigger bonus checks to sign at the end of the year.  How many of your sales people are capable of making that transition?  Do you have a sales team or just a group of professional braggarts?  How does your sales team measure up?

Top 5 Mistakes Your VP of Sales Makes at Trade Shows

sales, trade show, selling, exhibit, conference, sales process, sales strategies, selling at tradeshows, selling at trade shows, exhibit booths, marketing, marketing dollars, marketing budget, CEO, CEO Sales Guide, Intelligent Conversations, Mike Carroll, PresidentIf you are the person who signs the checks (the President, CEO or business owner) for all of the expenses that go along with exhibiting at trade shows, one of the things that can drive you absolutely nuts is trying to figure out how to get the maximum return on your marketing investment while also ensuring enough new business closes to justify the expense.

As many of our clients get ready for "trade show season" and prepare to send their sales teams off to exotic convention centers across the country, here are the top five (5) trade show mistakes we see VPs of Sales make that can absolutely destroy your return on investment.

  1. Planning as an after thought.  Running a sales organization can be a tough, demanding job.  There are so many moving parts to manage and often meeting with the VP of Marketing to provide input and feedback into trade show planning gets put on the back burner.  Huge mistake.  Your marketing team always needs a longer lead time than your vice president of sales believes.  If your sales team is busy talking about problems solved by product X and your marketing team produces materials and give aways for product Y, you've got a big problem.  Make sure your VP of Sales and your VP of Marketing schedule some time to plan well ahead of the show(s) you plan to attend.
  2. Customers or Prospects?  The great thing about exhibiting at the right trade shows for your industry is that everyone is there, including your current customers and prospective customers.  To maximize your sales teams time make sure there is a clear strategy about how to handle both groups and where sales people should spend their time.  Our advice is typically to talk with customers before the show to find out if they will attend and perhaps schedule some time with them before or after the show or during off hours.  It could be a dinner or a cup of coffee or just a quick hello.  Let them know that you value and appreciate their business and then set the expectation that your goal is to focus on new business.
  3. Focus on Getting Leads.  Many sales people (and sales leaders) attend these events expecting to get a lot of leads and connections - and they are often disappointed when they fall short.  In our experience the sales people who leave the show with the most leads and connections are the ones who focus their time, energy and efforts and making connections for others first. What would happen if before the show everyone on your sales team invested some time thinking about who they could connect, who they could introduce, and what they could do to help your clients and prospective clients?  Get your team focused on giving first, and they will receive plenty of leads and opportunities.
  4. Missed Opportunities.  If all you are going to do is set up your booth and stand there for 8 hours, don't even go. Get involved with the show.  Offer to moderate a panel.  Use the event to learn more about your competition and your market in general. Leverage the opportunity to have hundreds of short conversations as a training opportunity for your newer sales people. Provide on the spot coaching and feedback as you observe them interact with tradeshow attendees.
  5. Poor Execution.  The details matter. From pre-show planning (meeting with marketing to get the message right, identifying clients who will attend, calling prospects who will attend to book a cup of coffee during the show, etc.) to post-show follow up, successful sales organizations nail the details and execute with ruthless efficiency. Compare that to what you typically see as you  walk a trade show floor (bored sales people nursing a hang over) and ask yourself which side of that coin you want your sales team to be on?

Investing in the right trade show can provide oppotunities to connect with current clients, fill your sales pipeline with propsective clients, increase your company's visability, and learn more about your competition and your market in general.  Make sure your VP of Sales avoids these mistakes and you'll be on your way to a strong return on your tradeshow investment.  If you need some help we have our free Trade Show Checklist

Sales Leap Every Year!

Sales Leap, CEO Sales Blog, Sales Team, Sales Secret, Last Call, Intelligent Conversations, Mike Carroll, Leap Year, Sales Force Development Expert, Milwaukee, ConsultantWhat would your revenue look like if your sales team had one extra day to sell every year?  This year we get a bonus "leap day" and every person on your team will make a series of decisions about how they invest their time.  Those decisions will have an impact on the results they produce - not just on leap day, but every day!  Let me share a sales secret that can create an "extra day" of selling every single year, not just every four years during leap year.

First, let's spend a moment talking about sales measurables.  What do you measure?  How do you measure success for your sales team? If you're like most CEOs we work with, you probably have a very solid understanding of your proposal conversion rate.  You know that if you send out X number of proposals every month you will win $Y in new business.  A few CEOs understand how many productive sales meetings need to take place to generate X number of proposals.  And it is a very rare CEO (or business owner, or VP of Sales) who understands the daily activities required by every sales person, in every territory, to drive the right number of meetings (and frankly the right type of meetings), to drive the highly qualified proposals that lead to reaching or exceeding your monthly, quarterly, and annual revenue goals.  If you have this down, great!  If you don't, contact me and I'll quickly help you figure it out.

Whether or not you understand the daily activities required by each sales person on your team to drive the revenue results you want, here's a sales secret you can implement right away to add an extra day of selling every year.  Have everyone on your sales team form the habit of making one extra call before they go home every day.  That's it.  One small change - a simple decision they can make every day - that will drive massive results over time.

  • One extra call every day.
  • Five working days per week.
  • 50 weeks per year (assumes two weeks of vacation).
  • 250 extra calls per year.

How many days do your sales people make 250 phone calls?  For most sales people (unless they work in a call center or highly transactional environment), 250 phone calls would be an outstanding day.  Even if they only made an extra 200 phone calls per year, that would still be a great day of sales activity.  Once you understand your sales measurables, you can easily calculate the impact an extra 200 calls from every person in your sales organization could have on your revenue.  Hold your sales team accountable to this one simple decision - every day - and your sales will take a leap every year, year after year. 

What would happen to your revenue growth this year if your sales team formed this habit?  What can you do to make sure that happens, starting today?

Sales Focus - The $2,000 Cup of Coffee

CEO Sales Guide, Intelligent Conversations, $2000 cup of coffee, Mike Carroll, Sales Force Development, Rules for a Proactive Day, Time Management, Free Webinar, Sales Leadership, Milwaukee, WisconsinMy friend and client Bob Scherer took an exercise I had given to his sales team one step further and it's absolutely brilliant.  After reviewing one of our sales modules on "The Rules for a Proactive Day" I sent Bob a worksheet to help each sales person on his team understand the true value of their time.  It's pretty straight forward.  Just take your income last year divided by 2,080 and you will get your earning rate per hour.

So if one of your sales people made $100,000 in income last year their earning rate per hour was $48.07.  $100,000/2,080 = $48.07.  Of course this assumes your sales people only work a 40 hour week and in our experience most successful sales people usually work more than that, but that's a topic for another day.

The idea behind this exercise is to generate a productive conversation during a sales meeting to help your sales people understand that:

  • Not all sales appointments are created equally;
  • Time is scarce;
  • Time is money, and;
  • Time is a resource that cannot be replaced.

Look at a sales person's calendar and ask, "Was the cup of coffee meeting with Sue Smith really worth $50?",  and then follow up with a question like, "If you had to pay me $50 to go to that meeting, would you still go?"  Typically the discussion that follows has distinct and positive results.  First, it brings this issue into focus with a living example.  In addition, it helps your sales team understand the importance of proactive planning and how to best manage their calendars.  And it leads to making smarter decisions about which prospects a sales person should invest their time with. 

We've been doing this exercise with our clients with great results for years and years, but Bob wasn't satisfied. He took it one step further.  Instead of calculating the value of a sales person's time based on their earnings from the prior year, he looked at it from the perspective of what do they need to quote per hour to hit their sales plan.  This extra step created even more focus and clarity. 

We've since done this exercise with other clients and the results have been eye-opening.  For example, some of the people on the sales teams we work with need to quote on average $2,000 per hour to reach their sales goal.  That's quite a bit more than $50 per hour.  Keep in mind, that's an average target per hour - the reality is they may go a whole day without a quote and then have a $10,000 opportunity.  The other thing to keep in mind is as we work with sales teams on planning a proactive day, we plan five (5) hours per day so these averages are based on that number.  This time management approach builds in time for interruptions, got-a-minute meetings, returning voice and e-mails, sales meetings, and so on.

How does this impact your sales managers and how they monitor the proactive planning their sales people do?  Let's say you have a sales rep who wants to go to Cleveland to see a prospect.  It's a good meeting with strong potential.  And it's a full day out of the office.  If the answer to the question "Is this a $10k opportunity?" is anything but a resounding "Yes!" then your sales manager needs to raise expectations.  Who else can the sales rep meet with while they're there?  Could they have their initial discovery conversation on the phone instead of face-to-face to make sure there is a good fit? 

What kind of decisions would your sales team make if they understood the true value of their time and how much they needed to quote per hour to hit their plan?  Is the "cup of coffee" meeting really worth $2,000 (or whatever the opportunity cost per hour is for your sales people)?  We can send you a free spreadsheet and meeting discussion guide so you can do this exercise at your next sales meeting. 

Effective Sales Listening

The first thing a sales person needs to do to listen more effectively is to stop talking. We've all heard the phrase "We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk."  And yet many sales people forget this simple lesson and do most of the talking during a sales conversation.  If you want to have better sales meetings, stronger conversations and improve your sales results, work on becoming a better listener.

Here are two specific things you can do right now to work on your "sales listening." 

First, watch this 7-minute clip of Julian Treasure's TED presentation on "5 Ways to Listen Better."  Great insight and information.

Second, ask for our "Effective Sales Listening" checklist and implement it today.

 

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Are You Selling Price or Building the Case for Value?

describe the imageMany sales people struggle with how to handle pricing objections because they fail to build the case for making an investment in their product or service.  Some sales people believe that if they do not have the lowest price, it is nearly impossible to make a sale.  Even very strong sales people occasionally struggle with pricing conversations and how to explain why their price is higher. If you find yourself in this situation you've probably failed to:
  • Ask questions that help you establish a relationship with the prospect early in the conversation
  • Ask questions that separate you from everyone else trying to sell to them
  • Ask questions that make the prospect think about their challenge or situation in a new way
  • Ask questions that demonstrate your expertise
  • Ask questions that help the prospect understand their situation more clearly or from a new perspective
  • Ask questions that help the prospect gradually perceive the true cost of their situation
  • Ask time-bound questions that help the prospect see the gap between where they've been and where they are now
  • Ask time-bound questions that help the prospect see the gap between where they are now and where they want to be at some point in the future
  • Ask questions that lead to a regular business conversation (NOT a gimmicky sales conversation)
In other words, if you're having a conversation about price you are having the wrong conversation.  And it's probably because you rushed through the discovery process and didn't slow down enough to ask lots and lots of great questions.  Like putting a puzzle together, take your time, focus on one piece at a time, and ask questions that help the prospect see how everything fits.

But if you're not comfortable talking about money.... or if your concept of "a lot of money" is too low..... or if your need for approval outweighs your desire to win the business.... or if you have self-limiting beliefs or other head trash getting in the way.... or if you get emotionally involved and begin to feel rushed when you get tough questions or objections.... you will struggle in sales conversations, will fail to build a case for your product or service, will ask your company to give up profit margin the moment you encounter pricing resistance, and will struggle to meet quota and reach your personal goals.

Want to see how you stack up?  Take our FREE Sales Achievement Grader and we'll send you your results.

Customer 2.0 - Death of Your Sales Team?

Customer 2.0, sales people, order taker, selling, informed buyer, Intelligent Conversations, business consulting milwaukee, Mike Carroll, President, CEO Sales BlogWhen Dave Kurlan spoke to a group of Milwaukee CEO's a few weeks ago, one of the key points many executives walked away with was how sales has changed in recent years.  One of the changes Dave highlighted is what many marketing pundits call "Customer 2.0."  This concept acknowledges how the buying process has been changed by the increased level of data on the Internet, along with social media tools that fuel conversations among customers and businesses.  Using these social media tools makes it is easier for your potential customers to get information about your company, your brand, your products or services, and your prices.  Does anyone walk into a car dealership without knowing the invoice price the dealer paid the factory? 

So what does this mean for your sales team?  Well, if an informed customer calls and is ready to buy, many "sales people" think all they have to do is get out of the way and take the money.

Here are a couple problems with that:

  1. First, the prospective customer might not be as informed as they think they are because many mistake data for knowledge.  Have they asked the right questions?  Have they considered all of their alternatives?  What impact will the factors they have not considered have on their experience and ultimate satisfaction with your company or product?
  2. Second, your sales person isn't really selling in this scenario, they're just taking the order.  That's a clerk's job and yet many "sales people" don't realize it.  How many clerks do you have on your sales team?

What should happen?

  1. When an informed prospect calls ready to buy, the first thing your sales person should do is acknowledge their hard work and research and then start asking questions.  It might sound something like "Great, I can see you've done a lot of research on this....can I ask you a few questions just to make sure this is best solution for you?"
  2. Sales people who can slow down the informed (or sometimes misinformed) prospect long enough to engage them in an intelligent conversation and ask questions about what they really need, how they're going to use it, what they want to accomplish, etc. will be much more successful in the long run because the people buying your product or service will be more satisfied.  And believe me, the long-term value of helping a potential customer make the right decision - even when that decision means they're not buying your product or service today - is worth far more than the short-term value of that one transaction.

Just because a buyer has "qualified" themselves by doing some research and asking their friends and followers for input doesn't mean they're truly ready to buy or even that they should buy.  Make sure your sales people continue to follow your sales process (you do have a sales process map, don't you?) by asking questions and helping the customer discover whether or not your solution is the best option for their situation. 

Customer 2.0 will only mean the death of your sales team if you let it.  Raise your expectations by making sure your sales team can consistently demonstrate their expertise by asking questions and helping customers walk away with the right answer.

Sales Advice From Mr. Spock - Use Emotion Not Logic

"Seems logical to me captain" - Mr. SpockSales people who use logic to convince their prospects make selling a lot harder than it needs to be.  Mr. Spock might have struggled to make quota had he gone into sales rather than joining Starfleet because he would have been challenged to access emotions to move the sales conversation forward.  So unless your sales territory includes a lot of Vulcan clients and prospects, stop using logic and start using emotion.  You'll sell more.
  • Buyers generally make their decisions at an emotional level and then use logic to rationalize and justify their choice.
  • People buy from people they like and people who make them feel comfortable.
  • When you start spewing facts and figures, most buyers will tune you out and stop listening.  Some will just get annoyed.
  • If you can connect your product or service to your buyer's situtation at an emotional level (think pain, fear or pleasure) your conversation will get a lot easier.
  • When your questions and statements lead toward features and benefits, buyers will see you as just another sales person trying to make a sale.
  • When your questions and statements lead toward emotions and feelings, buyers will see you as a helpful problem solver.
How to Help Prospects Discover Their Emotions

To illustrate the point let's use an example where you find out your prospect is still considering your product or service but is leaning toward a competitor.  At this point in the process many salespeople would start to make their case by highlighting the features and benefits that make their product or service better.  It might sound something like:

"I understand, XYZ Corp. has many strong features.  One thing you may want to keep in mind is that our service also provides Benefit A, Feature B, and Benefit C.  They don't have these things." 

And when you start to list these items a couple things happen:
  1. First, you may be insulting your prospect.  You can say it as kindly as you like, but in many cases what your prospct hears is "You're stupid, how could you even consider a service that doesn't have A, B and C?"
  2. Second, the prospect's sales defense shield will go up because they'll see you as a sales person trying to make a sale.  This makes them stop listening to you and starting planning how they're going to escape from the conversation.
Even when you know you're right and that features A, B, and C make your product or service a MUCH better choice (seems logical to me captain), you will have more sales success if you ask questions that help the prospective customer discover these things on their own.  It might sound like this:

"That's great, XYZ Corp. really offers a nice service.  I know many people who have been happy using them.  Can I ask you a question?  When they told you they don't offer Benefit A, what did you say?  When you asked them about Feature B, how did they respond?  How did you feel when they told you their service doesn't include Benefit C?"

Asking these types of questions:
  • When they told you.....
  • When you asked them about....
  • How did you feel when they told you....
  • When you explained that feature C was important to you....
....will help your prospects discover the advantages of working with you on their own.  And when you help them reach these conclusions on their own - rather than having a sales person tell them the logical facts - they will be more comfortable with you and will perceive you as being helpful not pushy.