In my previous post, The Art of Asking Sales Questions to Engage Prospects, I discussed the kinds of questions and strategy that salespeople should use in calls with prospects and clients. Now, let’s consider the best sales questions to focus on for the second call.
One of the first things to do is share your understanding of the initial conversation. The reason is twofold: it validates your understanding of the situation based on what you heard, and you can gauge reactions and uncover additional perspectives in various areas.
What I typically do is to put together a conversation summary, highlighting my understanding of the conversation and what the prospect is trying to accomplish. This makes for a good starting point for a second meeting, and I always ask if there are others who need to be engaged in these conversations.
The questioning strategy at this point should be designed to drill down into more detail of the initiative under discussion. Many of these would focus on implementation and on uncovering each individual’s point of view:
- How do you see this working within your organization?
- What are the roadblocks?
- Who are the stakeholders with an interest in this initiative?
You might begin to pressure test a sketch of your recommendation, making this a collaborative conversation instead of a pitch:
- What’s your reaction to this recommendation … and why?
- What challenges do you see with this?
- What are next steps and your time frames for implementation?
- When can we schedule time for a presentation to all of the decision makers?
There’s another area of questioning that is beneficial for salespeople to explore. Prospects may decline to answer, but it doesn’t hurt to ask:
- Who else are you considering as a partner for this initiative?
- What criteria will you use in making this decision?
- What have I not addressed that you’ve heard about and are intrigued by from other potential partners?
The reason for asking about the competition is that it’s good to know who you’re up against. Sometimes, that knowledge can guide you to change your approach or highlight certain aspects of your expertise. It’s never a good idea to badmouth the competition. What you can do is help the prospect reshape his/her thinking based on your knowledge of the competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. You might say, “I know you’re doing your due diligence, and I wanted to share that ABC is a fantastic XYZ organization. You just might want to ask who would actually be delivering the onsite services, as my clients have told me that’s not their area of expertise.”
One thing I often do in preparation for a second meeting is try to establish my first contact as a coach and champion within the company. I will ask what success looks like for our second meeting. Then, I will request to have one-on-one conversations with all of those who will be invited to the second meeting. I do this to uncover individual perspectives and the key things they want to learn from me, so they’ll consider the meeting time well spent. Prospects may not agree to this approach every time, but when they do, it usually works great.
One last thing I’ll share that works for me is this: Before a second meeting, I try to get my hands on as much information as I possibly can. I’m not afraid to ask more information because I’m never going to get it if I don’t ask. This also shows the prospect that I’m serious about the engagement and committed to its success. What are some of the best sales questions you ask on a second call? Let us know.