Stop Selling, Start Asking: 3 Questions That Will Improve Your Results


For many companies January represents the start of a new year.  A new beginning when all numbers are at zero and the uphill climb to reach the new year’s sales quota gets under way.  And whether your company sells cars, computers, insurance, or consumer staples it’s likely its increased its goals in 2015 from the prior year, and to you that means a bigger sales quota.

How do you reach that new number when last year’s number seemed big enough?  Where will you find the time to sell more and still have a chance to see your family, hit the gym, travel a bit, or simply sleep a little?  The fact is, making more calls isn’t the answer.  The more calls you make, prospects you talk to, emails you send, or LinkedIn invites you issue won’t be enough to hit a higher quota.  You’ve got to operate differently.  You’ve got to change your approach.  The most effective way to increasing your sales results is by asking better questions…the right questions.  Start with these 3 questions below when meeting with a prospect for the first time.

  1. In looking back on your results last year did you accomplish what you hoped?  Asking this question provides insight into the prospects priorities and values.  It also offers you a glimpse into how likely they are to provide you with the critical information you’ll need to construct a proposal or recommendation that adds tangible value to their business.
  2. What are your top goals or priorities for this year?  If you don’t understand your prospect’s business you have little chance of doing business with them.  Likewise, how much time, effort, and energy is wise to spend on a prospect who doesn’t know where he or she is headed?  With limited hours in the day, and that big goal in front of you, your best chance of success lies in working with people who all have clear goals…grow revenue, reduce expenses, improve turnover, etc.
  3. How do you currently determine if you’ll buy again from one of your providers?  It’s important to know up front if the prospect makes their decisions based solely on price, service, future product improvements, or ease of use.  Whatever their criteria is in sending you more business, be sure to take note and not only build it into your proposal but more importantly deliver on that expectation.  If innovation is important to the prospect don’t promise product changes if your product hasn’t changed in years or has no planned changes on the horizon.  Once you lose trust and credibility your reputation becomes worthless.

If you’re not comfortable asking these questions there’s likely a good reason which most of the time will be due to the lack of rapport built immediately on the front end of your interaction with the prospect.  Remember, if you approach a prospect like a typical sales person their natural defenses will be up, but if you approach them as a business person who has passion around your product and deep-rooted beliefs and experiences that showcase the value of that product you’ll find your prospect will be more open, more engaging, and inclined to forge a relationship with you.  Authenticity is your key to success and its something that has to be real and heartfelt, it can’t be pretend.

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