Not too long ago, we discussed the success rates of cold calling. We went over the number of calls it takes for some salespeople to throw up the white flag and just move on to the next one. Not surprisingly, persistence won out, as most sales were initiated between the 5th and 12th contact.
But maybe the reason it takes so long is because the questions you’re asking might be too generic. Or as this article from the Harvard Business Review pointed out, maybe you’re asking the wrong one(s) entirely. The author made a case for the question “What keeps you up at night?” as being one of the worst questions you can ever ask a prospect. Have you asked that question before?
Or maybe you jumped the gun a bit and overwhelmed the prospect with questions that aren't suited for the first call. However you slice it, there are a handful of questions that salespeople should be hesitant to ask.
Here are a few that may leave prospects scratching their heads.
Tell me about your business?
Sometimes this question works. It feeds into the notion that if you offer up a chance for the prospect to chat away about the company history, their role, etc., it opens up a little passage for them to become comfortable from then on.
However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes the question can be looked at as you not doing your due diligence and researching before the call. Just saying you know when their company was founded is not enough, sometimes. You need to integrate their company history into a question or fact about what they’ve achieved over the years. Show you’re listening before they even pick up the phone.
How can I save you money?
Prospects understand that competitive pricing is a big draw to any service. But they need other incentives to stay on the line. They’re more interested in not just the price, but the quality of the product, how it’s presented and other underlying factors. Don’t think you can win them on just low prices. That’s merely a side note to your pitch.
Any new products coming out soon?
This question is not only too direct, but it’s jumping way ahead of the call. Even if this was the 10th time you’ve reconnected with the prospect and established a rapport, this question may be breaking the boundaries of what a company is willing to share. And yes, there are times when a salesperson must initiate some part of the discussion, but this isn’t one of them. Let the customer deliver this kind of news first.
And that’s just a start. The issue with these questions is that they aren’t really assessing a prospect’s needs. Yes, companies want to cut costs, they want a refreshing way to reach their goals and they want their needs addressed. Ask the right questions the first time and become that trusted advisor for future conversations. Don’t waste your time (and theirs) asking them the wrong ones.
And once your questions do strike a chord with prospects, are you sharing them with the rest of your team?