Five questions that can move sales along – but that salespeople often forget to ask
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  • Blog post

Five questions that can move sales along – but that salespeople often forget to ask

As the song says, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

So it is in sales, says Craig James. One of the reasons we struggle to get sales results is because we simply don’t ask for what we want – or don’t ask for it directly.

Here are five types of questions few salespeople ask but should. They can move the sales cycle along and help you achieve your revenue goals:

1. Level-of-satisfaction questions. Most salespeople are taught to probe for “pain” – to find out what’s wrong, and what they don’t like about their current situation. But there’s another question that should be asked before probing for the pain: “What do you like about what and whom you’re using now?”

It may seem self-defeating to ask a question that gives the prospect a chance to say something favorable about his current situation. But this question:

  • Tells you what you need to provide as part of the solution.
  • Lets your prospect discuss aspects of his current product or service that are of particular value.

2. Money questions. Many salespeople have been taught not to mention money early in the conversation. Nonsense.

You need to find out whether the two of you are in the same ballpark so you don’t waste your time. After you’ve conveyed the benefits of your offering, simply ask, “Here’s approximately what this will cost. Should we continue talking?”

3. Objection questions. The immediate response to an objection should not address it directly. That’s too adversarial. Instead, ask a question to determine the underlying concern.

Let’s say the objection is, “You guarantee delivery of 72 hours, but the other suppliers I’m talking to guarantee 48 hours.”

An adversarial response would be, “Yes, that’s true. Tell me, how many times in the last two years would receiving this product in three days rather than two have caused you a problem?”

Instead, ask an open-ended question such as, “Tell me why 48-hour delivery is important to you.” The prospect’s answer will tell you how much of a concern it really is.

4. Trial-close questions. These sales questions gauge how the conversation or presentation is going. A question to use after presenting a feature of your product could be as simple as, “Is this what you’re looking for?” or “How does that sound?”

The answers to trial closes tell you how to proceed, like the lights on a traffic signal: Green means keep going in the direction you are headed, yellow signals something’s not sitting well and red indicates a real concern that could kill the sale.

5. Commitment questions. These get a prospect to agree to do something you want. Examples: “So we agree you’re going to send an e-mail to the team today and come up with a date for our next meeting, right?”

It may seem obvious, but too few salespeople actually ask for the order. That’s the final commitment question: “So are we ready to go?” or “Sounds like you like what you’ve seen, yes? Let’s get you going.”


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