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Are you asking the right customer questions?
15 June 2014

Are You Asking the Right Questions? 3 Strategies to Earn More Sales

We’re pretty outspoken in The Selling Agency about how we feel when it comes to the big Capabilities and Features dance that most sales people and sales messages lead with when they get in front of prospects.

Being a professional – Sales Person, or otherwise – demands that we be more effective and more relevant to our prospective customers. It’s not about you, it’s about them. How do you know what to sell someone until you’ve asked them about their problems? Making an assumption that we already know what they need and that our solution is the best answer is pretty brazen.

So, how do you flip that? We say, ask them questions . . . but, of course, this needs a strategy too.

Have a Clear Objective – Why do you need the insight you’ve asked for and what are you going to do with the information? Communicate your intentions to the prospect – even before the meeting, but especially when you begin the meeting. You are gathering information so you can make the best recommendation for the customer based on their unique problems and needs. What does that mean to the customer and when will you make your recommendation. A clearly communicated follow up plan is part of having a strategic objective. And, you have GOT to follow through.

Be Prepared – Know as much as you can before you walk in the door. Research to understand these areas and build your question bank or “Needs Analysis Guide” to confirm and give you new insight into how their business works and where your solutions would fit.

Build questions around –

Industry  {Revenue Model, Influencing Trends, Growth Cycles, Innovation, Economic Influences}

Marketplace {Competition & Customers, Supply & Demand}

Business Organization {Internal Culture, Decision Makers, Influencers, Hierarchy}

Decision Making Process {Timeline, Budgets, Payments, Relationships}

Value Chain {Cost of Problem vs. Investment in Solution, Customer vs. Company Impact}

Ask Leading Questions – You’re on an information quest but that doesn’t mean that you don’t get to share insight and expertise about your product or industry. The way you “frame” a question can both gather intel as well as communicate your knowledge and areas of expertise or even pre-empt objections later down the road.

For example, asking “How do you currently maximize your customer referrals? Do you have a tracking and rewards system in place?” – when you think they are struggling with the process highlights their pain points, gives you an opportunity to get detailed insight into their current processes and opens the door for them to ask you questions where you can share results and examples.

Another tactful question to hedge objections about price would be to ask, “You’re not the least expensive option out there for your prospective customers, how do you convey your value over the cheapest price?” This doesn’t get you off the hook for proving your value proposition, but it makes it a lot harder for a prospect to negotiate price over your value.

BONUS {from our friends at voltageCRM} – If this isn’t the first question or conversation you’re asking the prospect, you could be wasting your time or leaving money on the table:

“Have you already decided to make a change and are looking at your options?”
OR
“Are you still trying to decide if it’s worth it to change?”

Each response will have a completely different path for the customer and the questions you drive will be different for each situation:

  1. If they’ve decided to change and are looking for vendors, you will only need to demonstrate why you’re better than your competitors.
  2. If they haven’t decided to make a change, you’ll need to focus on educating them on the challenges and benefits of making the change before you can jump into differentiation.


Asking better, more strategic questions can build stronger relationships, accelerate the sales process and increase your conversion rates – you earn more sales. Don’t walk in the door without a strong, practiced plan.

Until next time, keep kickin’ butt!

-sks