When you’re in sales, time is money, and there’s none to waste. Make the most of your time by asking questions to gather information about a potential customer. It’s important to do so because the answers you receive provide incredible insight for determining a client’s true needs. When a client shares pertinent information, this allows you to figure out:
- Whether your client is good for you
- Whether you can actually help the client
- Whether you should proceed with your presentation, or move on, leaving a referral for someone who could better assist them.
Prior to your sales presentation or conversation, it’s helpful to devise a set of questions you can ask. As you weave them into the conversation, you want to apply them as necessary to determine whether or not you and a prospective client are a good fit.
Additionally, when you get enough questions in advance, the questions clients frequently have can be used to shape your presentation. This is great because it gives an edge and lets you overcome concerns and objections before they arise.
This is another great secret of sales presentations that make millions. When you identify the true needs of your prospect, and handle objections seamlessly in your pitch, your presentation becomes mouthwatering.
Say it with me: Resistance is futile.
How to Question Your Prospective Client (Ideally Before a Presentation/Pitch)
Until you’re a pro at this, I don’t want you to shoot from the hip with your presentation, or the questions you plan to gather from your clients. Put some thought into your questions, and sculpt them appropriately.
1. Use open-ended questions.
Avoid allowing your prospect to answer a bunch of yes/no questions. When your client can answer with “yes” or “no” to what you’re asking, you’re messing up. You’re making it too easy for them to shut you down, preventing you from getting the information you need. Precious nuggets that could be used to strengthen your pitch and increase your chances of closing will instead remain locked away behind all the “yes,” “no,” “maybe so,” “ya momma’s a ho” responses people spit out. We don’t want that.
Examples of Open-Ended Sales Questions and Statements
- Can you please tell me about your current challenges with (finding a babysitter/buying a home/cooking a gluten-free menu)?
- What expectations do you have in a (cleaning service/tutoring company/entertainment manager)?
- What frustrates you most about (buying a home/hiring an au pair/finding the right life coach)?
- What have you tried before to address these challenges in the past?
You get the point. You can Google for some great open-ended questions in your field, or in general and modify them so you can tailor them to your needs and situation.
2. Remember: Asking questions works best after you’ve established rapport.
In order to secure a presentation, there’s a certain level of rapport you must have built with the client to get their interest. Once you’ve warmed them up by establishing common ground or getting them to laugh, you can proceed to move in with your questions. At this point, you’re not spitting them out like rounds of bullets in a firing squad, but allowing them to be part of the conversation. And like the pimps say, “Conversation rules the nation.”
3. Let customer responses shape your intuition.
Your client’s energy toward you and their desire to get the problem fixed scales with the amount of information they provide. If your client is tight-lipped, resistant, and refuses to open up in any way, you either need more rapport, or aren’t ready for your help. Don’t take it personal. Close out the conversation politely, and move on. Let them find you when they’re ready.