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September 22 2019.
Dec 06
Few good questions

For the past 20 years of my interaction with clients, I've been asking questions;

- To maintain healthy conversations.
- Discuss with a non-selling approach.
- Making the other person to talk to learn more.
- Finding the right decision maker.
- Help improve sales process.

I am sharing with you, the questions to you can ask at different sales stages. They have been found to be effective in most of the sales situations.

The questions are deliberately overlapping, and stop just short of duplicative. Essentially, you want to elicit the same information in as many diverse ways as possible. While asking questions one should not appear to be interrogating the people. The questions are primarily "triggers" which may elicit feedback that demands further clarification.

Never be content with a single question, no matter how satisfying the answer appears to be. Some people will attempt to deceive to save their ego, and others will inadvertently deceive you because they misunderstood the question.

1. Qualifying the potential buyer.

  • Does this requirement need budget allocation & has it been arranged for?
  • How important is this requirement (on a scale of 1-5)?
  • When would ideally like to place the order?
  • Who else is involved in the buying process
  • Have you made a commitment to proceed, or are you still analyzing?
  • What are key decision criteria in choosing a supplier?
  • Have you bought this before, is this a continuous requirement?
  • Are you planning to get more proposals before deciding?

2. Identifying the decision maker.

  • Who controls the finance & other resources required to make this happen?
  • Who has initiated this need?
  • Who can immediately approve this requirement?
  • Who is responsible for the results?
  • Who else is involved in the approval process?
  • Who will accept or reject proposals?
  • If you and I were to shake hands, could I begin tomorrow?

3. Handling objections.

Questions to address the decision makers objections.

  • Why do you feel that way? (To get the root cause.)
  • If we resolve this, can we then proceed? (Is this the sole objection?)
  • But isn't that exactly why you need me? (The reversal approach.)
  • What would satisfy you? (Make the buyer answer the objection.)
  • What can we do to overcome that? (Demonstrate joint accountability.)
  • Is this only of its kind? (Is there precedent for overcoming it?)
  • What's the consequence? (Is it really serious or merely an annoyance?)
  • Isn't that only remotely possible? (Worry about likelihoods, not the remote.)
  • Shall I address that in the proposal? (Let's focus on value.)
  • Why does it even matter in light of the results? (The ROI is the point.)

4. Identify the objectives.

  • What is the ideal outcome you'd expect?
  • What results are you trying to establish?
  • Given a opportunity, what better product/service/customer condition are you seeking?
  • Why are you seeking to do this (work/project/assignment)?
  • How would the operation be different as a result of this work?
  • What would be the return on investment (sales, assets, equity, etc.)?
  • How would image/repute/credibility be improved?
  • How much would you gain on the competition as a result?

5. Establish the measurable.

  • How will you know whether we've accomplished your objective?
  • How will you measure this?
  • What indicators will you use to assess our progress?
  • Who or what will report on our results (against the objectives)?
  • Do you already have measures in place you intend to apply?
  • How will we know the public, employees, and/or customers perceive it?
  • Each time we talk, what parameters will tell us we're progressing?
  • How would you know it if you made a mistake?

6. Assess the value.

  • What will these results mean for your organization?
  • How would you assess the actual return (ROI, ROA, ROS, ROE, etc.)?
  • How will these results impact the bottom line?
  • What is the intangible impact (e.g., on repute, safety, comfort, etc.)?
  • How would you, personally, be better off or better supported?
  • What is the scope of the impact (on customers, employees, vendors)?
  • How important is this compared to your overall responsibilities?
  • What if this fails?

7. Identify the Budget?

  • Have you arrived at a budget or investment range for this project?
  • Are funds allocated?
  • What is your expectation of investment required?
  • So we don't waste time, are there any financial parameters that I should work within?
  • Have you done this before, and at what investment level?
  • What are you able to authorize during this fiscal year?
  • Can I assume that a strong proposition will justify proper expenditure?
  • How much are you prepared to invest to gain these dramatic results?
  • For a dramatic return, will you consider a larger investment?
  • Let's be frank: What are you willing to spend?

8. Close the order.

  • If the proposal reflects our last discussions, how soon can we begin?
  • Is it better to start immediately, or wait for the first of the month?
  • Is there anything at all preventing our working together at this point?
  • How rapidly are you prepared to begin once you see the proposal?
  • If you get the proposal tomorrow, can I call on Monday at 10 for the advance & the purchase order?
  • While I'm here, should I begin some of the preliminary work today?
  • Can we proceed?

9. The most important question.

Unlike the above questions the following one can be answered in only with a clear "yes or no" response.

  • Do you believe it yourself?

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