There are several ways to ask for this. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Again, thanks for reaching out to us and I’ll definitely get you more information on this. Question: What does your review process look like? In other words, after you go through everything, if you thought we were the best fit for you, what would be an approximate start date for you?”
“Great! I’ve got us on the calendar for next (confirm day and time). One more thing: If after the demo you like what you see, when would you want to get this implemented?”
“Great! I’ve got us on the calendar for next (confirm day and time). One more thing: If after the demo you like what you see, would you be in a position to go ahead and schedule an install date?”
“I understand there are several layers to getting this approved, but let me ask you: If you feel that we are the best overall solution, what would be the soonest that you personally would like to get this going?”
“__________, sounds like this would be a good fit for you. Let me ask you: If everything checks out next week, is there anything that would prevent us from moving forward with this in the next two weeks?”
The power of understanding timeline is that it gives you insight into how much urgency there is on the part of your prospect. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the best solution in the world. If there are steps or processes or other decision makers on their end (or competition they are evaluating), then these are the real roadblocks that will stall your deal.
And the way to find out is to qualify for timeline.
Any of these scripts will help you do that, so copy them down, put them in your own language, and begin qualifying for this most important of all “tells.”
The sooner you understand their timing, the sooner you’ll know how to drive the sale.