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March 13, 2017 // 7:30 AM

6 Short But Powerful Questions to Ask on Sales Discovery Calls

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Salespeople frequently focus on the “big questions” they should ask their prospects in order to close more sales. It’s great to ask the big questions about what your prospects are looking for and what their key challenges are. But in many cases, more value comes when you dig deeper with smaller questions.

The short, specific questions you ask throughout a sales meeting can often lead to the most valuable discoveries about your prospect. Try asking these six questions when you meet with prospects to help crush your sales goals.

1) “Why?”

Successful salespeople never assume they know why a prospect says something. Much like a psychologist would, you need to peel back the layers of what’s going on in your prospect’s head. Try asking, “Why do you say that?” or simply, “Why?” This small question will prompt your prospect to dig deeper and share valuable information -- empowering you to better understand the prospect’s biggest frustrations and how to solve them.

For more, watch the video below:

2) “Can you clarify what you mean by that?”

When your prospects make vague statements during sales meetings, don’t assume you know what they mean. For example, if a client remarks, “It’s just been a disaster,” don’t simply nod in agreement.

Instead, try asking, “Can you clarify what you mean by that?” or “What exactly do you mean by that?” Your prospect may respond, “Well, we’ve had a plant close, and it’s led to these new challenges in our organization.” This sets you up to learn important information you would’ve missed without the help of that little clarifying question.

3) “How does that affect you personally?”

When you’re digging into key challenges that your product or service may solve, it’s important to remember that not all challenges are equal in the eyes of your prospects. They’re going to be most concerned with those challenges that affect them personally. When your prospect mentions a particular problem, try asking, “What does that mean to you?” or “How does that affect you personally?” By encouraging prospects to vocalize the toll the challenge is taking on them personally, you can connect massive value to the solution you’ll soon share in your sales presentation.

4) “Can you tell me more?”

Just because a prospect stops talking doesn’t mean you’ve learned everything there is to know about a particular situation, challenge, or objective. Dig deeper by simply asking, “Can you tell me more?” This small question encourages the prospect to open up and share more details -- which can often lead to big discoveries. Even the tiniest details can turn out to be extremely valuable when it comes time to connect your solution to their needs.

5) “Really?”

The key here is to get prospects to continue talking. The more they say, the more opportunity you have to discover what they’re really thinking. Don’t overthink this. Try asking “really?” if clients tell you that they’re way behind schedule, or that they’re dealing with a crisis at one of their factories. Simply asking, “Really?” is often all it takes for the prospect to continue, “Yes, and it’s costing us a lot of money. Here’s why … ” One simple word is all it takes to start a valuable conversation that taps into what’s going on at your prospect’s organization.

6) The silent question.

This one takes guts, but it works. Whenever there’s a pause in the conversation, your first instinct will be to fill it with words. Resist that urge and simply offer a silent shrug. This “silent question” will compel the prospect to fill the space instead. This is a subtle but effective way to invite your prospect to continue talking and open up more about their challenges and needs.

How will you use small questions to make big discoveries in your next sales meeting? Share your plans in the comments below. Check out this free Ultimate 3-Step Prospecting Call Script Template for more powerful sales advice.

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Topics: Sales Calls

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