12 1/2 questions to ask your customers to get more business

By Don F Perkins

Search Google for “Sales Tips and Tricks” and you will get a whopping 36,800,000 hits.Sales Tips and Tricks on Google: 36,400,000 None of us wants to work any harder than we have to in order to get ahead right? But you have to wonder: Is this fast food mentality toward trying to get more business really the best approach to such a complex relationship? Could it be that the reason sales is so hard is that buyers have been tipped off and are fed up with the tricks sales people keep trying to play on them?

Stop Trying to Game The System – Learn To Master The Game Instead

Asking great questions may be the key to shortening sales cycles. Here’s why: Many business leaders are so focused on executing on their core competencies, they simply don’t know what they don’t know. They often don’t know what they might be missing that will help them fast track this project. Instead of looking for tactics, techniques and tricks to “get past the gatekeeper” or get to a “quick close” what if we put that time and energy into learning more about how to help customers win? Here’s 12 1/2 of the most potent questions your customers wish you would ask to get more business:

1. How do you really go about make big decisions?

2. What are your values; corporate and individual?

3. How do you know (or will you know) a change is required?

4. What’s keeping this change from being handled using internal resources?

5. What kind of risks do you face when dealing with changes?

6. Who stands to gain the most from this change, and how do you plan to sell it to the rest of the organization?

7. How do you make do today without these product or services?

8. How do you set priorities for utilizing the limited resources you have?

9. How is your business structured? (including contacts, roles and schedules)

10. What external forces or events are impacting this situation and how do you plan to control or mitigate them?

11. How will you plan for and measure the success of this change?

12. What does excellence really looks like for your organization?

12.5 What else? (fight the urge to solutionize, let em’ think!)

When you know the answers to questions like these, you don’t need tricks. You can play fair and win, and so can your customers. In fact, participating in the discussions that get you to this level of understanding can build way more rapport and credibility than any tricks or tactics. If you are ready for shorter sales cycles, try these questions to ask your customers to get more business. If you make the effort to demonstrate that you are a valuable team member by helping customers manage change and arrive at their own answers faster, you will be among the first picks every time.

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This post was one that I originally guest posted on the 12 Most curated blog, “repurposed” here because I love my readers so much. :-D Be sure and check out these other fine 12 Most writers as well.

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  1. #1 by Andrew Rudin on March 16, 2012 - 2:07 pm

    Don: 36.8 million is a large number, but it’s not surprising. Sales is a culture built on championing short-term results. When was the last time you went to a sales kick-off, and a salesperson was publicly honored for nurturing an opportunity for two years or more before it produced any revenue? As a profession, we dislike the pejorative stereotypes of salespeople as pushy and opportunistic, but like my grandmother used to say, “you make your bed and lie in it.” How true. If you find a blog titled “Email subject lines guaranteed to get attention–everytime!”, please send it along to me.

    By the way, when I searched on “tips and tricks for orthodontists,” a profession comparable to B2B sales given the average length of its treatment cycle, I got 5 (five) results. That tells you a lot about where we are, and how far we might need to go.

    • #2 by Don F Perkins on March 17, 2012 - 1:02 pm

      You’re observations are correct from the perspective of business as usual. Increasingly though, what I’m hearing is that the game has progressed and traditional schemas are becoming less and less effective.

      All our conjecture is a fine thing I suppose, but the proof is in the putting. I’m curious to hear what my readers think as they try to incorporate some of these questions in the real world.

      Don F Perkins

  2. #3 by Don F Perkins on July 5, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    Thanks. Most of what I write I owe to my colleagues and customers. I use a free wordpress theme called Fusion.

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