Sales Management: 6 Sales Questions to Avoid


Effective salesmanship hinges on the ability to ask insightful questions that provoke meaningful conversations. While certain questions may seem standard, their impact on a potential client’s perception can be profound, especially when framed correctly. In this Sales Management article, we explore questions to avoid and propose alternative enquiries that can enhance the quality of your discovery meetings and foster more productive nuanced discussions.

Questions to avoid

1. Tell me about your company
Problematic answer: “If you can’t make the effort to have spent a few minutes on our website, then I’m not sure it’s worth spending any more time with you.”
This question can be perceived as a lack of preparation on the part of the salesperson. The response reflects a potential client’s frustration at the perceived disregard for their time.

2. What are your pain points?
Problematic answer: “My tennis elbow and the poor questions that I’m asked by salespeople.”
This question is often too direct and may not elicit a thoughtful response. The sarcastic reply highlights the need for a more nuanced approach.

3. What keeps you up at night?
Problematic answer: “Insomnia, my child crying and the thought of meetings with poor salespeople.”
While this question aims to uncover challenges, it can come across as clichéd and may not encourage open communication.

4. Are you happy with your current provider?
Problematic answer: “Yes.”
Now do you tell them why you are so much better, and they have made a bad decision? This question sets the stage for a defensive response. It assumes dissatisfaction and can create resistance.

5. What will it take to get your business?
Problematic answer: “Thanks for making this all about the cheapest price, what’s yours?”
This question puts the focus on price, potentially devaluing the product or service offered.

6. Are you the decision maker?
Problematic answer: “Yes.”
But what can they really decide on? Can they decide on the budget? Can they sign this off themselves? You just don’t know and at times, they will say yes even if they can’t. This question assumes a clear decision-making hierarchy and may not reveal the true dynamics within the organisation, especially in a big boardroom full of potential executives.

Strategic alternatives

To foster more engaging and productive conversations, consider replacing these questions with alternatives that demonstrate understanding and a genuine interest in the client’s needs.

1. “The three main areas that we help our customers achieve better results on are X, Y and Z. Which one would be most important to you if we could help you to be better off?”
This question not only demonstrates preparedness but also invites the client to prioritise their needs.

2. “Many customers that I’ve helped were looking at [needs/outcomes] and are frustrated with [challenges]. Is this something that you are also experiencing?”
By framing the question around shared experiences, this approach encourages the client to open up about their challenges.

3. “I understand that you are using [current supplier name]. How long have you been with them? What has been your experience with them, and if you could improve anything, what would be the top three things that you would like to see improved?”
This question acknowledges the current provider while delving into the specific aspects that might be causing dissatisfaction or room for improvement.

In conclusion, refining your questioning technique is a crucial aspect of successful sales management. By avoiding common pitfalls and opting for strategic alternatives, you can transform routine interactions into meaningful dialogues that resonate with potential clients and ultimately lead to more successful outcomes.

Looking for more tips on sales management, from a team with decades of real-world sales experience? Get in touch with our SalesGuru team today!

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