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The 4 Sales Questions You Absolutely Must Ask

Find out quickly which prospects might buy and, if so, exactly how to sell to them.

Once you've established that a potential customer truly needs what you're selling, asking the following four questions will help you turn that opportunity into a sales win:

1. "How would your company go about buying this?"

This question uncovers how the customer's firm makes the decision to buy and as the process steps that ideally will result in payment.  It also provides a map of the people and players with whom you'll need to work to bring the sale to fruition.

2. "Whose numbers determine the budget?"

This question separates the players identified in question #1 into two categories: deciders and influencers.  The deciders are the people who have financial responsibility and thus control whether money will be spent; the influencers are everybody else.

3. "Who else are you talking to?"

This question uncovers whether or not you're facing a competitive threat. If so, you'll need to adapt your campaign to counter the specific threat.  For example, if your competitor has feature "A" but not "B", you'll need to show why "B" is crucial.

4. "What happens if you don't buy?"

This question reveals the customer's priorities when it comes to the problem or goal that your offering addresses.  If not buying is a viable option to the customer, the customer will probably not buy, either from you or your competitors.

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Last updated: Sep 17, 2013


Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

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