The buying/selling process is usually not as straightforward as we would like as salespeople. People can be fickle in their own way, so finding out what they truly want can be tricky, but that is why we ask questions.
Getting on a phone with prospects is only the first of many steps needed to make a sale, but you should never expect to know enough about them if you don’t ask questions. The right questions.
So, what questions should you pose to your prospects, in order to make the sales process more seamless? Here are five prospecting questions you need to ask:
1. Did I Catch You at a Bad Time?
This is a great opener question and, unless the person on the other side of the line is extremely angry or impolite, it opens doors for you, though only slightly, but enough to get your foot in, so to speak.
By asking someone “did I catch you at a bad time?” you are basically asking for their permission to talk and are demonstrating a respect for their time.
What’s best, people will usually tell you something like “no, but how can I help you?” or maybe (this is a bit less polite version, but it still works for you “okay, but make it brief.”. In any case, unless the answer is a complete rejection, you are good to ask further questions.
2. Who is Involved in Making This Decision at Your Company?
The person on the other side of the line or email correspondence can be as polite and charming as you can ever hope someone can be, but are they really the right individual to talk about?
Many sales reps make the mistake of being satisfied with getting just about anyone on the line when they should be moving ahead to the person who is actually responsible for making the decision to buy or not to buy.
It’s very important to move forward and get to the decision-maker, so it should really be your priority to make your way to him or her.
3. Can You Explain You Decision-Making Process?
This is another important question, but also one that sales reps fail to ask time and time again. How can you effectively make a sale if you don’t understand all the intricacies and details of one’s company decision-making process?
The good thing here is that even getting no answer can tell you much, such as that this might not be a very good opportunity for making sales in the first place.
4. What Challenges are You Facing?
Your prospect’s challenges will become your own, so it’s vital to have a clear picture of the problems they are facing. By understanding these fully and maybe offering a suggestion as to how they can overcome a difficult (in their eyes at least) obstacle) in an easy way, you’ll instantly get a new friend, so to speak.
5. Do You Have a Calendar Nearby?
Finally, you need to set up a meeting with the right person if you want to sell something to them. Don’t be content with simply getting their phone number or email. Instead, insist on setting up an appointment (whether it is for you or for someone else) while you are still on the phone and have the other person circle the date on the calendar.
While we’re on this topic, another important thing – never schedule by email. A typical VP Sales has dozens of emails coming in and out of his or her inbox and it’s too easy for one (yours) to get lost in the shuffle and be forgotten.