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The Importance of Softening Sales Questions

January 15, 2017

So, I was with one of my coaching clients, and he feared asking certain questions because he is to direct.  I had to laugh a little.  I have always been accused of being direct.  I guess it is my east coast background of getting to the point.  As one of my bosses said “There are no dumb questions, only dumb answers” Overall asking questions has been a key to my success, but I must admit in a couple of situations I was overly aggressive in my sales probing and may have lost a couple of sales because of it.

I think most sales people have difficulty in asking critical questions and closing sales because they feel it maybe to bold or the relationship may be affected.  Ever heard the statement from management “My sales people do not know how to close.”  The truth is they don’t know how to ask key difficult questions in a diplomatic way.

In some ways, this is understood.  Our whole lives we are taught not to ask to many questions by our parents and our teachers.  Get over it.  If you want to be effective you have to learn to put the “Skunk on the Table” If you are NOT one to be direct you must develop ways to ask the questions with some softening techniques, which will allow you and your prospect to be more comfortable.   I had to learn some of these, but at the same time it is still a struggle not to get to the point quickly.  However, I respect that not everyone is the same, and everyone sells a little differently.  However, there is nothing more important throughout the sales process than asking purposeful questions and listening very intently to the answers.

What’s your background and how did you get started in the business? If you don’t mind, what is ….
What is it that you like and do not like about your current service provider? If you don’t mind me asking, what is it….
If you don’t solve this problem, how will it affect your company and you personally? If I may be so bold, if you ….
What is stopping you from deciding now and buying my solution? From what we discussed, what is …….
Is there anyone else involved in the decision? Knowing the importance of this decision for the company will there be any others involved in the decision making?
Do you see a benefit in what we offer? From the various benefits, we discussed, which would best serve you and your organization?
You said that ……. Correct me if I am wrong, what I heard is ……….


I am sure there are other phrases that you can think of that may be as good or better than some that I just listed.  Here are some others which may be helpful.

  • The only reason I am asking is ….
  • Don’t take this the wrong way, I need to better understand ….
  • May I offer my help in presenting this program to influencers of the decision?

If you have other thoughts on this subject, I am greatly appreciative for your input.  Please share your comments below:



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