You probably know the most important question in sales prospecting: “Why?”

So what’s the second most important question in sales prospecting?

“Why?”

‘Why” is also the third, fourth and fifth most important question. Because by the time you get to the fifth “why”, chances are you’ve discovered at least one critical piece of information everyone else has missed.

Try asking multiple whys the next time you’re talking to a prospect or customer, and see how deep you can dig. For example:

Buyer: “We’ve been using the same vendor for twenty years.”

You: “Oh, that’s interesting. Why have you been with them so long?”

Buyer: “Because they’ve never let us down.”

You: “I see. So why is reliability so important to you?”

Buyer: “Because if they miss a delivery, we lose money.”

You: “Really? Why is that?”

Buyer: “Because we don’t keep a lot on inventory on hand, so we’d miss our production targets.”

Look how much the prospect revealed in this brief exchange:

  • They’re loyal.
  • Reliable delivery is their key concern.
  • And they’re vulnerable – their current vendor kind of has them over a barrel.

With this information, you can probably already think of several ways you could start prying them away from that long-standing relationship. Or you could keep asking why and discover even more.

This “Five Whys” technique is a powerful way to get beyond the “tell me about your needs” sales prospecting conversation that often goes nowhere.

photo credit: Valerie Everett

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