Ever wonder what questions you should ask when you’re in front of prospects? While situations vary greatly, you need to be prepared and this takes planning. Here are 80 some questions, tips and idea starters in check list form that you might find useful.
Sometimes one question is all it takes. More frequently, however, it takes more. But first and foremost, don’t overdo it. It’s not an inquisition or trial. Balance inquiry (asking) with advocacy (educating, giving advice and talking). Most feel you should be talking 20% of the time with the prospect talking the rest.
One simple way to keep a conversation going is to remember the “Five Ws and H” of journalism. You’ve heard them before. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
Then ask open-ended questions which are ones that can’t be answered by a yes or no. Instead of “Do you have a regular printer?” Ask, “What is the most important quality your current printer provides?” When appropriate, ask, “If there was one thing your current printer could do better, what would it be?”
Here’s our checklist:
Use this checklist to review and revise this list as needed.
Before the call did I:
- Answer what is the goal of the call
- What do I need to find out during the call
- What’s the logical next step?
- Research the account? Google the business, use LinkedIn, other to learn something about the person and the business?
- Have three value-added points in mind?
- Bring materials, business cards, brochures, contracts, etc.as appropriate
Trust developing questions during greeting and introduction:
- Observe the office for trophies, awards, pictures, etc. and comment as appropriate
- Write down the names of your contact and any others necessary
- Are you from here or somewhere else?
- What did you do before you did this job?
- How long has your company been involved in…?
- What’s your most important priority and why?
- How has the recent recession affected your company?
- Ask about business goals and challenges the company is facing.
Gathering information questions:
- Will anyone, besides yourself, be involved in this decision?
- If you find they are not the decision maker, can you meet with the decision maker?
- If you can’t meet with the decision maker, after your presentation ask the person you are talking to if they will recommend you.
- What process do you normally go through with a new vendor? Or what is the process for implementing a new product/service like this?
- How and why did you decide on your current vendor (assuming you are a replacement)
- Who is your current vendor?
- What are the features of the product/service you like?
- What challenges do you experience (with product/service/vendor)
- If you could change something about what you currently use, what would it be?
- Any specific expectations/requirements for a product/service like this?
- What is your time line?
- Do you have a budget for this project–how much?
- Any unusual specific needs we should discuss before moving forward
- Prospect’s job or role within the company?
- Corporate structure
Also, other questions if appropriate
- What’s important to them?
- What’s interesting to them and then focus on that?
- What risks of using you (or your solution) do they perceive?
- How we can help solve their problems?
- What they think about our company?
- What they like and dislike about their current vendor?
- How are industry trends affecting them?
- “What if?” questions as appropriate
- What would they like from a vendor in terms of support after the sale?
- What are their short-term and long-term goals? (If appropriate.)
- How may I become most valued to you?
- What is our next step?
- Establish a specific follow-up
- Repeat the prospect’s points to encourage them to elaborate
If handling objections:
- Listen to the entire objection
- Pause for three seconds before responding
- Remain calm and not defensive
- Meet the objection with a question in order to find out more
- Restate the objection to make sure we agreed
- Answer the objection
Complete the six-step process
5. Present solution
6. Close (or next step)
During the presentation, make sure you:
- Prioritize the prospect’s needs
- Talk about benefits
- Use layman’s terms
- Link the benefit to the prospect’s needs
- Verify each need before moving on
- Present myself, company and product in a positive light
- Re-establish rapport
- Ask if anything changed since your last meeting
- Pre-commit the prospect
- Give a general overview of the product or service
- Keep the presentation focused on the customer’s needs
- Involve the customer in the presentation
- Summarize the prospect’s needs and how our product or service meets those needs
In closing …some more questions
- Did customer identify problems solved with my solution?
- Did customer identify the value of solving the problems?
- Gain agreement that the solution provides the values needed?
- Demonstrate a better value
- Create urgency
- Minimize the customer risk or other concerns?
- Ask for the order (“Why don’t we go ahead with this?”)?
Questions and Tips When maintaining customers …
- Write a thank you note for appointments, orders, etc.?
- Earn the right to ask for reference letters and referrals?
- Establish a schedule for follow-up visits?
- Ask for referrals?
- Send thank you notes to lost accounts?
- Ask three things we can do to keep our relationship strong?
Here are some other tips when using open-ended questions:
- Ask if you may ask a few questions that will help you determine if you are the right fit for them.
- Tell them if you ask a question they feel is sensitive or confidential, to tell you
- Be positive so the prospect knows you care about the right solution. Be a consultant.
- Avoid being a detective trying to solve a murder. Take your time and give them time to think.
- Keep the questions short and on target. Avoid long questions with multiple answers
- Ask questions that require a follow-up question so you get the full picture.
This checklist will help you stay focused. Run through this list frequently to keep yourself prepared – and review after visits to see what you can do next time to make the call smoother and increase your chances of success.