There is no “best question” for you to ask during your needs analysis sales call. There are “best questions.” Personally, I like to ask questions based on the client’s stage in their buying cycle. But there are a lot of ways you can categorize great sales questions.
I can’t tell you how many salespeople continually make the mistake of not asking “who” questions. They mistakenly believe that because they’ve found a champion that they’ve got the game won.
You want to know who is going to be involved in making any decision to buy. You are also going to want to know who is going to be the final person to sign any agreement. You’re also going to want to know who is going to be affected by any decision to buy what you sell and what the change is going to mean to them.
For my money, I’d want face-to-face sales calls once I had the answer to these questions.
No one buys unless and until there is a gap. You can call it pain. I call it dissatisfaction. “What” questions can help you find the gap.
You want to know what’s not working. You want to know what opportunities your client is trying to take advantage of. You want to know what needs to change. You want to know what your dream client thinks.
In modern sales, you need to find the gap. You need to discover what is important.
Rackham would call these implication questions. You need to know why your dream client would be compelled to change.
You want to know why your dream client would change. You want to know why they can’t afford to keep doing what they’re doing now. You want to gain an understanding—and help them gain one, too—as to why any decision they take will improve their competitive position in their market.
Why questions are worth double points. They double your understanding.
You might want to propose your solution. But your dream client might have some ideas about how they need things to work. Ask questions that elicit their preferences.
You want to know how your solution will work for them. You want to ask them how they need your idea to be changed to exactly fit their needs. You want to know how they expect you to deliver the outcomes you sell.
Ask your client how they see things.
In sales, we’re always working against the clock. And so are our clients. Time management is of the essence. You want to put some borders around your opportunity.
You definitely want to know when your client is going to make a decision to buy. You’re going to know when they are going to need to start producing results. You’re going to want to know when you can have access to all of their stakeholders. If what you sell is anyway complex, you’re going to want to know all of the dates that would make up an implementation plan.
Ask when questions to understand your client’s timeline. The only closing date you can use to forecast a deal is one your client has agreed to.