Sales Management Blog

Sales management tips and advice on how to improve your sales team.

10 of the Most Harmful Questions Salespeople Still Ask

Posted by Guest Blog on Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @07:30 AM

Written by Frédéric Lucas. This was originally posted by our OMG Partner affiliate in Canada, Prima Ressource and has been translated from French with minor adaptation.

 

You've probably heard some absurd questions from vendors, and told yourself that it was not the way you were going to do business. There is no reason to repeat the mistakes of others.

I have assembled a list of the top 10 wrong sales questions that are frequently asked, despite their detrimental effect on the sales process.

10_of_the_most_harmful_questions_salespeople_ask 

 

If you are a salesperson and still use any of the questions listed below, it’s time to re-think your approach.

If you are a sales manager you can use these questions in your coaching interventions to help your sales force avoid these traps.

 

10 Harmful Questions Salespeople Sabotage Their Sales With:

 

1. I am going to be in your area next week, can I stop by?

What’s wrong with it?

  • This question forces an encounter.
  • The potential customer has no reason to meet with the representative.
  • The potential customer may cancel the meeting with little notice, precisely because they have no reason to meet with the representative and this is therefore not a priority for them.

2. Should I send you the documentation?

What’s wrong with it?

  • The potential client cannot typically decide based on your brochures whether your products or services can effectively meet their needs.
  • Lengthens the sales cycle and reduces the likelihood that there is a next step with the prospect.

3. Do you already have a supplier for X, Y or Z service?

What’s wrong with it?

  • This question opens the door to the wrong type of conversation.
  • Allows the prospect to easily say they are already working with an established supplier and are satisfied.
  • Many salespeople fail to advance the sales conversation after hearing a prospect is satisfied.
  • Many salespeople have the limiting belief that they cannot help prospects when they are satisfied with their supplier.

4. How can I convince you to give me your business?

What’s wrong with it?

  • This question reveals a misunderstanding of the very purpose of the sale.
  • It is the prospect who should make the decision to do business with a company because there are sufficiently compelling reasons to do so.
  • The role of a salesperson is not to convince prospects ─ they have to ask questions of potential customers that may help them identify compelling reasons to buy on their own.

5. Can we start with a small project before proceeding further?

What’s wrong with it?

  • Asking for small projects to start with is not the most effective way to displace an incumbent provider.
  • To be content with the crumbs of an account at a fraction of the investment does not usually indicate that the salesperson is committed to signing the client.
  • Asking this question demonstrates an inability to get the total volume of business.
  • When representatives are prospecting new clients, their sole aim should be to replace the incumbent and get 100% of the volume.

10_harmful_questions6. Are you the person who makes the decision?

What’s wrong with it?

  • Do you think potential customers will truly answer "No" to the question? Unlikely.
  • Even if the person is not the decision maker, they will say "Yes" to ensure that the representative does not solicit anyone else in the organization. People want to protect their organization.
  • The issue is threatening to prospects.

7. Should I follow up with you in a few weeks?

What’s wrong with it?

  • When salespeople are in this situation, it means that there is a failure on several key points of the conversation:
    ♦ Failure to identify a problem
    ♦ Failure to build credibility
    ♦ Failure to be memorable
  • If there is no problem at the time of the meeting, it is unlikely that there will be a few weeks later.
  • Salespeople often offer to follow up when they feel an impasse.

8. What is your budget?

What’s wrong with it?

  • The provided budget will still be lower than the potential customer should likely pay to buy your products or services.
  • It is always difficult to ask a potential customer to discuss their budget when you are trying to obtain money from them and they may not have set a budget yet.

9. What can I do to close the sale with you today?

What’s wrong with it?

  • This question simply lacks style.
  • This is a departure from the conversational style required to be effective.
  • The question gives the impression that the prospect is getting closer to closing while there are less-offensive ways to actually close.
  • The salesperson puts pressure on the prospect.

10. Would you like to take a few days to think?

What’s wrong with it?

  • This is influenced by the personal buying habits of salespeople who themselves take time to decide before making a major purchase.
  • This is a way to lengthen the sales cycle.
  • Salespeople should challenge potential clients who are requesting time to think and help them understand what will happen during this period.

 

Do you disagree with this list of harmful questions? Make a case for any of these blacklisted questions, or share some of your personal “wrong sales questions” here in the comments, or on social.

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Are you or your salespeople asking questions in the course of cold-calling? Get ideas about how to cold call more effectively:
Download Cold Calling in the 21st Century

 

Read these related posts on the Braveheart Sales Management Blog:

 

Image credits: first image © lisiza / 123RF Stock Photo; second image © file404 / 123RF Stock Photo, both modified by text overlay and resizing.

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