There’s an art to asking the questions that will get a prospective customer interested and — most important — close the sale. Ask the right ones, and the customer will essentially sell himself or herself on what you’re selling. Ask the wrong ones, and things can go south in a hurry.
Just as bad as “bad” questions are the cliché standby inquiries that just waste time and try the prospective customer’s patience. Everything you ask must be designed to lead the customer down the path to the sale.
That requires perceptiveness, empathy, and taking the time to completely understand how you can solve whatever issue the buyer has.
Unfortunately, too many salespeople fall back on boilerplate questions that don’t accomplish anything. Here are a few examples:
Whose service/product are you currently using? For one thing, you should already know the answer if you’ve done proper research. Also, the prospect might believe that’s none of your business. Don’t take a chance — don’t ask it.
Are you satisfied with your present provider? If the prospect were satisfied, why would she be talking to you? And what do you do if the customer replies that she is satisfied? Get up and leave? Try to convince her that she doesn’t realize she’s not actually satisfied?
Can you tell me a little about you/your business? This is just wasting the prospect’s time. It’s information you already should have learned in determining whether this is a qualified lead. That information is what allows you to go into the sales call/meeting with ideas and offers that will entice the prospect.
Are you the decision maker (in your business, etc.)? Unfortunately, you often don’t get an honest answer on this one, and it’s another one your research should have already prepared you for. Instead, inquire how the purchasing decision will be made.
If I could save you some money, would you switch to us? It sounds like a reasonable question, but the psychology of it usually works against you. It devalues your business in comparison to the competitor and makes the prospect wonder why it’s so easy for you to drop the price.
What would it take to earn your business? Again, this one might sound reasonable, but it has a negative effect. It puts the customer in the position of having to effectively make an offer for something you want to sell, and what the customer hears is that you just want to get this over with as quickly and easily (for you) as possible.