The Most Important Question You Could Ask a Prospect

Seems like the greatest competition we face is not another company targeting our prospects in a shared marketplace, rather prospects deciding to do nothing or to take on doing the task themselves.  Unfortunately, untrained salespeople that love to talk and demonstrate how much they know originate the option of doing it yourself (DIY) in the prospects mind.  This does a strong disservice to them, because the salesperson is suppose to know more than them, so they get hired.  Or the salesperson makes the buying process (i.e. making the prospect chose from too many different options) so difficult to understand, the prospect’s frustration cause them to stall in moving forward with the project.

The best trained salespeople, that are comfortable with silence in a conversation, have learned the next thing a prospect says after that awkward silence is pure gold.  When you are quiet and listen, you will be able to focus on the motivation of making a decision.  This motivation (to move emotionally) is where people make decisions, while justifying them intellectually or logically.  The essence of the best questions to ask are focused on “why now?”  You will need to soften it a bit, but that is the center of the timely decision.

why-now“I appreciate you sharing that with me, may I ask you why you didn’t call last week?”  Why not next month?  What happened to cause you to call me today and not wait?  These questions will uncover the preceding step in the buying process that prompted them to call you.

Would you like to know what process the prospect is making and how far they have come?  And you can ask what the overall desired outcome is they are seeking?  Sure makes it easier for you to achieve the goal if you know what it is.  And who is responsible for uncovering the goal.  That’s right, YOU!

Do you sell advertising?  Ask ‘why now’ will uncover the lack of sales revenue.  Is losing money emotional?  How do you feel when you are broke?  Happy; or are you ready to make some changes?

Some others factors to consider when asking the question – why now.  You will need to have the guts and courage to ask it.  Some salespeople know, but don’t do.  They cannot breakthrough the conceptual barriers in their limiting beliefs that prevent them from executing newly learned techniques.  Be conscience of that and know, upfront, you will need to overcome that fear of asking.

Also be aware of your tone.  Be nurturing and empathetic.  People will feel more comfortable sharing the honest answers with you versus telling you something that is misleading and puts them in the best light.

Knowing what questions to ask and having the guts to execute in a nurturing tone will have a tremendous impact on your sales pipeline.  Keep your goal in mind of working with the prospect to uncover and discover their reason to buy from you.  Remember they buy for their reasons, not yours.




  1. I especially liked:
    “Also be aware of your tone. Be nurturing and empathetic” It would seem to make the process more enjoyable.