1. What are the details of the decision making
process and who is involved?
2. How have decisions like this been made in
This might seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at the
number of sales reps who don’t ask this question. If
you don’t learn about your prospect’s company
makes decisions, it puts your sales qualification
process at a tremendous disadvantage. If you don’t
have a clear understanding of the decision making
process and exactly who is involved, then you
shouldn’t be surprised at the end when all of a
sudden you have to go talk to
other stakeholders, or extend the trial or do a bakeoff, etc.
When someone gives a vague answer to this
question, you should push back and explain that, by
you understanding the details, you can help them
make their buying process as efficient as possible by
ensuring you have the right resources lined up on
If someone is unwilling to share the details, I’d be
worried about the quality of the opportunity and the
likelihood of it closing in the first place.
3. What are your top business priorities for the
Hopefully we can do our research on the
account and find this information before any
meeting we have with them.
If not, we need to understand the overall business priorities to ensure our solution aligns with them.
These are different than the priorities of the
individual you are speaking with. These priorities
are typically what drive all decisions throughout the
year about what the company will invest in and what
the executive decision makers will sign off on.
If your solution does not align with their top business
priorities, the likelihood of you selling them
anything drops significantly.
This also gives you a chance to move upstream if
you’re dealing with someone below the ‘power line.’
Ask them this question, and if they don’t have a good
enough answer then you can say something like:
“I appreciate your insight but I’d like to understand
them in a bit more detail. I really want to ensure the
solution I put together not only supports your
priorities but also directly aligns with the overall
business priorities so we can show an impact across
the board. Is there someone else I might be able to
speak with to gain this insight?”
4. What are your top priorities when making
This question is more directly related to the solution
you are talking about and their evaluation criteria. By understanding their top three priorities when
making this decision you can then hold them
accountable throughout the rest of the process if they
stray or change for whatever reason.
As an example, if you ask this question and “price”
is not on the list then towards the end of the sales
process (when price inevitably does become an
issue), you can ask them if it is more important than
the other three top priorities they spoke of earlier and
you built your solution around.
I usually ask for the top priorities, include them in a
‘summary e-mail’ I send after the discussion, and ask
them to e-mail me back confirming they are accurate.
This creates an audit trail that you can use
throughout the sales process to reconfirm and
remind them what they said.
5. Are you okay with telling me no?
This seems like a weird one to ask but you’d be
amazed at how effective it is. No one likes telling
anyone no, which is why many times clients don’t
even call us back towards the end of the process.
If you get it out of the way upfront and let them
know you are cool with them telling you ‘no’ then
they are more likely to stop the process sooner with
you if you really aren’t the right fit.
Also, if you ask this question, towards the end of the sales process you can remind them if they are
avoiding you and have some fun with it by leaving a
voicemail that goes something like this:
“Hi Bill, this is John again with Sachs Consulting.
Remember early on in the process when I asked
you if you were cool with telling me no and you
said you were? Are we at that point? If we are
please let me know because this ‘maybe’ or ‘no
response’ zone is killing me.”
Remember, the worst sin in sales is not to lose a
deal, it’s to take a long time to lose deal.