Here are some of the key questions we coach salespeople to be prepared to ask in the initial phases of a conversation with a prospect. They’re important. Many salespeople skip them entirely.
Post these in a prominent place, someplace they will be seen every day. Practice them. Ask them early in the conversation. Make them part of your routine!
- Thanks for making time for me today. Since we spoke last, has anything changed?
- Do we still have (45 minutes) to try to understand whether or not we might be a good fit?
- Will you be comfortable me asking you lots of questions about (X)? You can ask me anything too, of course, fair?
- Help me see the world through your eyes: what key things can you tell me about the business?
- When we get to the end of the meeting if we’re both happy to move on to the next stage, and I have no idea what that might look like yet, let’s agree to scope it out and set a date in both of our calendars – that way we can make sure we stay on target. Fair?
To start the ball rolling…
- So, why have you invited me over today and how are you hoping I might be able to help?
- Most of our new clients tell us that they’ve never bought this kind of thing before. Would it make sense for me to tell you a little bit our organization and how we do things, then you can tell me about yours? Are you comfortable with that?
- When we spoke, you mentioned that (X) is an issue for you. How long have you been thinking about, or dealing with it?
- Most of our time is spent helping businesses like yours. tell me a little bit about how you go about dealing with (X) at the moment?
- Would it make sense to start by telling me what’s the single thing that gives you most concern about (X) right now?
Setting initial priorities…
- What were you hoping that I could do for you?
- When did you first decide that you should look into (X)?
- If you were to pick just one or two key things that you didn't like about your current solution or provider, what would it be?
- How would you rate things at the moment, from 1 – DISASTER, to 10 – PERFECT? (Whatever the answer, you say, “OK, why?”)
- If I didn’t think that I could help you, would you be OK if I told you so…and will you be OK extending the same courtesy to me if you ever feel that I’m not the right fit for your needs too?
For more on effective questioning skills for salespeople, see my book Asking Questions the Sandler Way.