Asking Your Prospects the Tough Questions – Sales Prospecting 101

By seamless-contacts-team| May 21, 2014

Ignorance is bliss. There is much truth to that saying, especially when it comes to sales. As a sales professional, isn’t is much better to think that everything is progressing as it should even if there are some unforeseen problems lurking in the shadows? While it is more enjoyable to imagine that everything is perfect and your prospect is just a few steps away from closing a deal, sometimes you have to ask the tough questions – even if you don’t like the answers.

Every salesperson reaches a point in the sales cycle where they need to ask some imperative questions that will determine the actual intent of your prospect. While your prospect’s responses my burst your sales bubble, it’s better to ask sooner than later in order to save yourself valuable time and energy.

Below are some key questions we’ve outlined that you need to keep top of mind as you work your prospect through the sales cycle. Asking these sooner rather than later will help ensure you are staying on track and provide you the opportunity to change direction if necessary.

Questions to Ask when Sales Prospecting

How likely are you to purchase our product or service?
It may seem like a blunt question to ask but knowing how likely a prospect is to buy can help you to better qualify them and determine their needs. Plus, asking this question will help you to gauge how serious of a buyer they are – it’s possible that by asking this question upfront you realize they are a serious prospect but not for another six months or more.

Who is the ultimate decision maker in your organization?
While you may have found a contact that actually takes your calls and returns your emails, they may not be the ultimate decision maker in their organization. Even though they may contribute to the final decision, you need to make sure you are dealing with a contact that has the authority to get a deal done.

Is the need our product or service solves a priority for you and your organization?
Sometimes you will encounter a prospect whose primary purpose is to fact find and research a product or service that would be “nice to have” but not essential for their business or organization. While it is possible to turn these prospects into sales, it is helpful to know where your product or service shakes out on the priority scale. Having this information can help you set realistic expectations as well as a more realistic timetable.

Are you considering other products or services to solve this problem?
This is likely a question most salespeople dance around but don’t often come right out and ask – but you should. If you can get a sense of the other competitors vying for your prospect’s business, you can better position your product or service. Chances are, you already have a grasp of your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths so knowing who you are up against can help as you prepare presentations and materials for your prospect.

What is your actual timeline?
This is a critical question that every salesperson should ask as soon as possible. Many times, prospects will create a false sense of urgency that lead salespeople to believe they plan on making a decision sooner than they will. While this is often due to shifting priorities or unexpected changes, it’s good to have an open and honest conversation about their expected decision date so that you can maintain a consistent sales pipeline.

As you work your leads and start to bring your prospects through the sales funnel, you’ll find that asking the above questions helps streamline the sales process and actually saves you valuable time, money and energy. While you may not always like what you hear, it’s better to get a straight answer early on than to be disappointed at a later stage in the game.

For more on this and other related sales topics, visit the Seamless Contacts blog frequently.