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.