The best question to ask in the sales process
Over the last 15 years, I’ve been working consistently to hone and improve my selling skills. There are many techniques I’ve implemented that have had a major impact on my ability to win and keep business. Working with quality sales trainers, I’ve significantly adjusted not just what questions I ask but how I ask them.
My favorite question to ask in the midst of an active opportunity is, “Say you choose not to do business with us, why would that be?” I find several powerful outcomes from asking this question and asking it in this manner.
1.) Respect of the prospective client. Almost every time I ask that question, the prospective client says, “That’s a good question” or “Thanks for asking that – I want my team asking those types of questions too.” As a company that partners closely with our clients’ sales teams, it’s important they trust our process.
2.) WHY not IF. Asking this question, I get the answer I really need, which isn’t IF they plan to move forward, but WHY they wouldn’t. I understand if there is an internal power struggle, an issue around budget, potential organizational changes, etc. The approach I used to take was asking, “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t move forward at this point?” That question doesn’t give me the answer I need. In fact, it’s actually a way for me to hear what I want to hear, not necessarily the candid truth.
3.) Concerns I can address. By understanding more about the constraints, I can build a plan to address those concerns or I am empowered to walk away if I can’t adjust to win the business. I find that this question can be asked multiple times throughout the selling process, as well.
Reference Note: I have enjoyed working with Aaron Prickle at Lushin & Associates in Indianapolis. He is a fantastic sales consultant who has helped me and my entire team.