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8-best Questions You Can Ask Prospects to Improve Forecasting and Sales.

September 22, 2017

As a sales professional, you know that you must ask effective, open-ended questions when speaking to prospects. It is the only way you can get them to talk and uncover the information necessary to close the sale. It’s the only way to get a true assessment of what the real pain points are. However, asking the wrong open-ended question may lead you down the wrong path. You could easily end up with little information that’s useful, and often times leading to inaccurate forecasts. Worse, there is no sale!

So what questions can your salespeople ask their customers to improve sales and accurate forecasting?

Here are 8 simple questions you can ask to build rapport with prospects, accurately forecast, and improve sales

1. What do you dislike about your current vendor?
This question will work especially well if you are trying to convince the prospect to switch from their current vendor. Alternatively, your offering might potentially be an add-on to their existing service.

It is important that you listen closely to the client after asking this question. You can use the information to frame your product as a better solution or as a complementary add-on. If you uncover the customer’s frustration and give her confidence that her frustration can be reduced, it will be much easier to close.

2. What do you dislike about the product you are currently using?

This question is similar to the question above; this question will help your salespeople uncover their customer’s current frustrations. The key to any successful sale is to provide a solution to a stated or unstated need. If your salespeople listen effectively, they can use what they learn to help the customer understand why the product/service being sold will be an improvement over what she is currently using. Thus, the salesperson should be “selling a solution.

3. What concern is stopping you from making this purchase?

What’s holding you back? Asking this question is a straightforward way for you to uncover objections, and to begin the process of facilitating “aid-of-services” to the prospect. By effectively executing the exercise, you can shift the conversation and begin working on overcoming those challenges.

It is important to avoid asking this question too early in their conversation with the customer. This is a closing question. Instead, you should ask this question when you sense hesitation or when the prospect rejects the product/service being sold – resisting to buy.

4.What are you most excited about for your company in the coming year?

Not only is asking this question a great way for you to get the prospect talking about their priorities, it is an effective way for you to build rapport. This is an easy way to get prospects to open up and to start selling themselves. Clearly, you know your customers! It is natural: people love to explain what motivates them at work. When that happens, you should listen carefully for anything the prospect says that could be accomplished quicker or more effectively with your product/service.

The point here is to learn how to position your offering as something helpful for prospects to reach their business goals more quickly. If the prospect sees the product/service as essential to reaching their goals, they will be much more open to making a purchase.

5.Who will make the final decision about this purchase?

This question is important because it lets you know whether that is the person making the final decision about the purchase. If you find you are not talking to the decision-maker, you may ask them if they’d be willing to connect you with the right person. It helps to tell them you will end the conversation and will avoid wasting their time. Importantly, don’t take it personally if that person is not helpful. One meets such people every day in sales. It is far easier if you’d rather just move on and spend the time finding the right contact.

By doing so, she will be able to improve her productivity and open up more opportunities to make sales.

It also helps to avoid inaccurate sales forecasting down the line.

What are the top 3 challenges you face at work right now?

Asking this question is an easy way to uncover the prospect’s pain points. Once you do that, you can effectively educate the customer on how the product/service being sold will eliminate those pain points.

To make the question even more effective, ask this follow-up question:

How would it affect you personally if you could not overcome the challenges you are facing?

This creates a sense of urgency and qualifies the deal better. It causes the prospect to think about the negative consequences that could occur if she does not take action. Then, you can let the prospect know she should invest in the product/service being sold to avoid those consequences.

What are your top 3 business priorities for the coming year?

Much like the “top 3 challenges” question above, this question can empower your salespeople to learn the information they need to close more sales. Clearly, you must listen to the prospect’s goals and look at it from their standpoint. Only then can you position the product/service being sold as something that will effectively help them reach her goals.

Here’s a follow-up question:

What would reaching your business goals this year mean for you personally?

This will get the prospect thinking and talk about how much reaching her goals could benefit her. She will be much more receptive to learning about any product/service that will help her do so.

What is holding you back from reaching your profit goals?

One of the biggest pain points business owners experience is disappointing profits. It is easy to understand why – if their business is not profitable, it may go under. That is why salespeople must uncover a prospect’s barriers to greater profitability. Once they do this, they can explain to the prospect how the product/service being sold can make their business more profitable.

Conclusion

It is important to customize these questions mentioned to you are selling and who you are selling to. Otherwise, you may not be able to learn enough to make a sale and you will be left wondering what is missing.

For example, if you are email marketing solutions, you should not just ask about what is holding the prospect back from reaching their goals. Ask also which aspect of their current system specifically is holding them back from reaching those goals. That way, In conclusion, you must ask for the sale at the end of a conversation! If you have actively listened, uncovered the prospect’s pain points and effectively illustrated how you can alleviate that pain, the close is natural.

 
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