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Seven Insightful Questions To Ask Prospects During the Sales Process
Blog / For Sales Pros / May 29, 2014 / Posted by Richard Young / 5045 

Seven Insightful Questions To Ask Prospects During the Sales Process

The key role of questions within the sales process is to uncover the insights and information you need from a customer to be able to demonstrate how your product/service can help.

But what are those insights that you need to know?

Start with these seven:

#1: Are you talking with the decision maker?

It’s really important that you discover early on in the conversation whether or not the person you’re talking with has the authority to decide to invest in your product/service.

This sounds obvious, but many wasted hours can be spent engaging in dead end conversations. A quick tip – if you find you’re not talking with the decision-maker, see if they can introduce you to someone who is. Of course, do this gracefully, or you might make someone feel like they got deserted on the dance floor.

#2: Can you elicit their expectation of pricing? Do they have the budget?

Regardless of the quality or fit of your product/service, if your customer does not have the budget to invest with your business, you will not close. So do some digging to determine what their pricing expectations are.

#3: What are their business goals for your product or service?

Gone are the days when you can rely on the features to pitch a product/service. In order to gain credibility and correctly position your solution for your prospect, you need to understand what it is they want to achieve.

Once you understand the goals your customer is working towards, you will start to understand how your business can offer up a solution to help them achieve those goals. Speak from this angle and your relevancy will skyrocket.

#4: How do they plan to achieve their goals? Can you spot ways that your product/service would make a positive contribution?

If you can understand how your customer is planning to achieve their goals, you can get some strategic insights into the direction the business is taking and develop solid talking points for your company’s offering.

For example, if you’re selling a complex or a high-ticket item (such as computer software or training), it’s so important to know the bigger picture. That’s because you have to be able to demonstrate how your offer will help the business strategically. No longer can you offer your product in isolation (after all, a new IT system will have wide-reaching implications for the business). 

#5: What challenges do they face?

If you understand the expected hurdles your customer has anticipated, you can consider these within your pitch. There may be suggestions you can make, or offer tweaks to the delivery to help your customer achieve and overcome the obstacles. As the Challenger Sale advises, get the prospect to say “I never thought of it that way!”

#6: What is their timeframe for the delivery of their goals? Can you meet it?

If your product/service needs to fit into a bigger picture solution, it’s crucial you understand the timeframe for this. That’s because you need to know if you’re able to meet the required timescale. In addition, you’ll also get a good insight into the key milestones and the other factors that the business is facing, that your solution may have an impact on.

#7: What concerns do they have?

If you can get a clear understanding of what’s worrying your customer, you can then alleviate those fears. You could find this helps to smooth the sales process and pave the way for a deal. For example, a customer may be concerned about securing buy in for a new solution from their team. Once you know this, you can share case studies and stories of other customers with the same fears and how they overcame them. If they’re concerned about usability, you can explain how simple your product is to use, or the training you offer to ensure it works for them.

The key here is to never assume. Something that you find straightforward and obvious may be the barrier that’s preventing the customer from moving to the next stage of your sales process.

The Right Questions in the Sales Process Can Be of Great Benefit

The right questions at the right time in the sales process can help you uncover the insights you need to understand what’s important and the direction a customer is taking. In the absence of these insights, it’s almost impossible to show how your business is relevant and to earn the credibility you need to persuade prospects to choose you over others.

What insights are critical to the success of your sales process? What information do you encourage your sales reps to uncover to improve the effectiveness of your sales cycle? Please let me know in the comments below.

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About Author

Richard helped introduce CRM to the UK back in the '90s. With this wealth of knowledge, Richard helps organizations with their CRM and sales management processes in a practical and efficient manner.

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