Every salesman has heard of BANT - The shorthand for Budget, Authority, Need, and Time that helps sales professionals determine the suitability of a lead. If a prospect has all of these in place then this is a great potential customer.
Because this is presented as a tool or a methodology, sales people tend to look on it as detailed process to be followed. Some can be a bit too enthusiastic in their conversations and focus on determining the exact BANT of a customer with little context, rather than holding a normal conversation during which they could learn this and much more.
Customers are smart. If you use an approach straight from a sales text book, then there is a chance that they have heard it before. The old adage of “people buy from people” is even truer today than it has ever been. Conversely, “People buy from a robot spouting an airport self-help book” does not work.
Get to know your prospect. Build up a relationship where normal conversations occur. Your customer knows why you are talking to him and does not expect you to be their best mate, but will respond to being treated like a human. They are likely to enjoy natural, free flowing and entertaining conversation more and so you are likely to more out of them and the information you need to keep your sales director happy will probably be of a better quality.
If you are successful at building this rapport, you may even be able to get them to be more flexible and possibly bring their timeframe earlier to help.
Don’t forget that customers are humans – so treat them like humans, not a commission generating machine!