Mark Shonka

Sales Tip: Two Key Questions

Most people in the sales and relationship management profession believe in doing their homework about their customers and prospects. People who sell products tend to ask questions focused on the customer's needs, while people who sell their company's value (and solutions) ask questions about both the customer's business and their needs.

There are some questions that pull these two different areas of focus together and help us learn more about both the business and needs of the customer. Consider this question:

"If no new solution is implemented, what will be the impact on your business?"

This question gets the contact thinking about the cost of no decision and continuing with the status quo. The answer will uncover the opportunity cost of not making a decision. You can dig deeper with your questions to understand what an optimal solution looks like.

Here is a similar but different question:

"What will the impact on the business be if an ideal solution is identified and implemented?"

This question gets the contact thinking about all the good outcomes that can follow as a result of making a change. Again, you can dig deeper to identify the solution characteristics and capabilities that will drive the best outcome.

These questions work well independently. Some people are motivated by pain and others by gain, so they may react to one question differently than the other. However, these questions may be best when asked together sequentially.

An additional benefit of these questions is that the answers help us qualify more effectively, as we can more accurately assess if the customer has enough motivation to make a decision to change away from the status quo.

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