Last month, we wrote about the importance of responsiveness in inside sales. Responsiveness is integral to starting off on the right foot with potential customers in inside sales, but there are additional steps that need to be taken before you can land new business. One of these steps is an Exploratory Process™ that will help you to understand your prospect's true needs.

If you're familiar with Carew's Dimensions of Professional Selling® program, you know that the Exploratory Process™ is the most important  part of the sales cycle. Knowing what your customer wants is a good first step, but knowing why your customer wants it is significantly more critical to closing a sale. This is very difficult to achieve without an exploratory process in place.

Figuring out why can be trickier to tackle when it comes to inside sales as opposed to a face-to-face sales setting. Often, in inside sales, we have trouble getting our prospective customers to agree to a phone call when our first interaction happens by email, text, or social media. Because it can be hard to get a prospect to agree to a phone meeting, the exploratory process can take a long time to complete.

This makes it even more imperative to use each interaction strategically and make sure to ask the right questions to provoke long-form answers from your prospect. For example, if a potential customer emails you to find out rates for a new product, you may want to gather more information from them first, such as why they're interested in that product. If you ask the right open-ended questions, your customer will be more likely to respond in detail which will allow you to obtain the information you need to complete the sale.

What are the right open-ended questions to ask? Learn them in Carew's Dimensions of Professional Selling® sales training workshop.

The second most common obstacle inside sales representatives encounter occurs during phone conversations with prospects. Ideally, your exploratory process should consist of Listening, Acknowledging and Exploring before Responding (LAER: The Bonding Process). The key in this process is the acknowledgement statement because it shows the customer that you are truly listening to and internalizing what he or she is saying. Forgetting to acknowledge your prospect's concerns can lead to a delay in the sales process, a lost sale, or even worse - a loss of trust! An acknowledgement statement can be as simple as, "okay," or as elaborate as, "thanks for sharing that with me." When it comes to being successful in inside sales, you should have a fine-tuned process that starts with responsiveness and leads to an in-depth exploratory session where you can uncover and truly understand your customers' needs. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a blog on the third key area in inside sales - follow-up!