The Three Most Important Questions to Ask a Prospect

Written by: Lisa Rose
three most important questions to ask a prospect

In a competitive sales landscape, getting a prospect on the line can feel like a win, but it’s only half the battle. The initial conversation with a potential customer is usually the most crucial. Use this opportunity to really feel out your prospect, and make sure that you’re asking the most important questions.

So, what are the most important questions to ask? Here are three that you should never leave out.

1. How Is the Decision Going to Be Made?

This question won’t necessarily reveal the unique needs of your potential customer, but it is important to determine who will ultimately be calling the shots. It can be challenging to really analyze your prospect when you’re speaking with the individual put in charge of making an inquiry, rather than the decision maker themselves. Finding out if you’re talking to the right person from the beginning can save you a lot of time and effort.

That being said, it’s important to tactfully pose this kind of question. Let whomever you are speaking with know that you’re interested in how the decisions will be made, and who exactly is involved in that process.  Remember that regardless of who you have on the line, you are in a position to build an internal advocate. Another advantage to this question? It will often clue you into your customer’s timeline.

Which brings us to the next question.

2. What Sort of Timeline Are We Talking About?

Figuring out how quickly a prospect would like to move forward gives you insight to their level of urgency, and how important the purchase is to them at that time. You can then adjust your sales approach to match this level of urgency. Determining a prospect’s timeline in the early stages of the sales process allows you to better craft your proposal and strategy down the line.

3. What Are Your Biggest Challenges?

Last (but absolutely not least) is determining what your prospect’s major challenge is. If you’re speaking with someone, chances are their issues are great enough to require your product. Determining a prospect’s unique set of challenges must occur before a plan of action can be created. You may think that you know exactly what your potential client needs, but it is more important to ask questions that will allow you to customize your offerings accordingly. On your next call, you can refer back to this information and present them with a well-tailored solution. Make sure they know how carefully you were listening.

Sales requires some talking, but oftentimes it can be just as beneficial to listen. The art of persuasion is important, but a prospect is more likely to be interested in moving forward when they feel like they are a vital part of the plan, and in control of the buying process.

Do you agree that these are the most important questions to ask a prospect? Let us know in the comments below! 

The Five Qualifying Characteristics of a Legitimate Sales Opportunity

Written By

Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose is a Group Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. Lisa has passion for helping managers develop a unique, motivational sales culture in their organizations. She can drive sales managers who merely put out fires day to day to flourish as visionaries who can motivate their team and generate results for their sales organizations.

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