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The first 5 questions to ask your next education customer

April 28, 2017

The first 5 questions to ask your next education customer


Salespeople, particularly those selling security solutions to the education vertical, often resort to fear tactics during conversations with prospective customers. It’s not uncommon to see them rip events from the headlines as examples of what the customer needs to avoid. While this method can yield success in terms of sales numbers, it doesn’t always lead to the best solution for the customer.

There’s a better way: Focus on asking some simple probing questions to uncover the needs of each particular customer. Doing so will build rapport and trust—and, more importantly, lead to a sale that meets customers’ needs.

Before you have your next appointment, jot down the following questions to ask:

  1. What’s driving your need for security?

    Let the customer steer the conversation rather than filling in the blanks with your own ideas of what could be driving them. For example, many solution providers default to what they know during the initial conversation. School shootings have been in the headlines so they might assume that the customer is addressing that need. In reality, the customer might already have a security solution for this type of event in place.
  2. Who’s responsible for using the system?

    It’s important to know if campus police are using the system, an outsourced security guard company or maybe no one—the system is just there in the event something happens. Knowing these answers will help you understand how the system will be used and determine where you take the conversation next.
  3. What type of unwanted activity is taking place?

    A security solution to catch a dorm room thief is much different than one to monitor license plates in a parking garage. Having an understanding of the activity will help steer the conversation.
  4. Where’s the unwanted activity happening?

    Has the activity been in one area, a few areas or dispersed all over campus? Is it indoor, outdoor, in parking lots or parking ramps? The “where” will help you better understand the types and quantities of cameras you’ll need to discuss later.
  5. What are your long-term needs for the system?

    Ideally, you can uncover whether the customer is looking to address this need and move on or whether they have a long-term vision for security and how it can play a role on campus.

Of course, these questions are really just the beginning of the sales conversation. But, before you rush your next sales conversation, try starting with these questions and watch as the conversation unfolds naturally and comfortably with the customer.