I am frequently looking for new ways and strategies to talk to prospects and customers when meeting with them in person, talking on the phone, or prospecting a new client. Face time and phone time are the most golden and precious moments that a salesperson has as we often spend our days wondering how to build a better pipeline, improve the pipeline, and close deals. None of this happens without interacting with the customer so we need to maximize our time by talking to them as much as possible and providing value when we connect.

Heather, from SalesFolk, provides a good starting point by describing five important questions every salesperson should ask when interacting in her blog



The first question is WHY:

Why should a prospect take time to meet, speak, and deal with you? My suggestion is to figure out their pains and challenges. Salespeople really like to talk about themselves and they like to talk in general. Just remember that most customers don’t care about you or what you do. They want to learn about how a product or service might help them with their job, allow them to work less, or get promoted. If you are salesperson that can tell great stories or keep an audience captivated then great, use those as openers before the business discussion takes place or during a dinner, event, or happy hour, but keep the business conversation about their needs, their challenges, and how you can help them. Your customer is only going to pick up the phone again if they feel they need something or that you provide value.

Deeper Probing:

This is self explanatory, but don’t show up and throw up everything about the technology. Find out what makes the business tick and how your service or product will fit into the grand scheme.

Why Now:

There has to be a compelling event for a customer to do something. In Information Technology it might be a cyber security breach/incident, aging infrastructure, slow moving applications, additional data storage requirements, etc. Still, that might not be enough because most customers like to perceive things as steady state. It’s your job to create urgency or a compelling event by making your offer too hard to resist. This might include a free trade up program, free consulting services, a free deliverable on current environment and more.

Who is going to make the decision or sign off:

Map the organization and figure out how many decision makers there are or who might become the champion for you within the organization. In IT it’s important to fully understand who has technology influence and who holds the budget and can make a budgetary decision to spend.

Showing them:

Moving towards a Proof of Concept or Pilot to demonstrate value while at the same time asking those important questions like “what would you consider a successful pilot or implementation?” “What are your most important criteria?”

What will happen if you don’t do anything:

What are the consequences to the customer if they don’t move forward with your project or solution? If you are a storyteller, now is the time to describe and visualize something going wrong and the impact and then also the benefits of an end state after they have done business with you.

It’s a competitive world out there – go get em!

Tony Bilby

See below for additional “probing questions” from award winning author Jeff Beals