Recently I have seen an increase of the number of requests for “the single best question to ask a customer or prospect” when engaged in b2b selling.
Truthfully, I really do not believe there is one single question that covers everything as sales situations will vary in circumstances.
Yet, there is one question that I always have ready to use with any customer or prospect I’m calling on. Sometimes I refer to this question as the million dollar sales question since it has the ability to open the door of an objective conversation with the customer or prospect.
The question to use is…
“Mr/Ms Customer or Prospect, I’m fully prepared to discuss ” X (Your Product or Service Offering)”, however, before doing so I would like your perception of what is important to you on this and then we can discuss these points without wasting any of your time.”
This is one of the most powerful questions you can use especially if you want to know what the customer values, what they specifically want to discuss and you prefer to gain total rapport with the individual you are meeting.
In fact, I know in one case a b2b sales person who I shared this question with told me he used it on a buyer that had given him very little information over a six month time period. When he used this question to start off a new meeting, he was amazed as this buyer then proceeded to talk with him for over an hour and a half – leading to a new contract with a buyer who previously had NEVER given him more than 5 minutes of his time.
So why is this question so powerful?
It contains three parts that open the lock of effective communication with the customer. Let’s look at the three parts…
- “Mr/Ms Prospect, I’m fully prepared to discuss “X” …”
Shows the prospect you are prepared and knowledgeable about your product or service. This builds some confidence about the reason you are there in the first place. Yet, it is the “fully prepared” part that makes this part work for you.
- “before doing so, I would like your perception of what is important to you on this…”
Now you have broken the normal b2b sales pattern of talking and presenting a solution without knowing what the customer is looking for or wanting. This statement shows you value the customer more than your “sales pitch” and you really want to understand the customer’s position on this topic.
- “we can discuss these points without wasting any of your time.”
You are showing the customer you have not desire to waste their time – which they have very little time to even give – and it shows respect to them. It also shows you are focused and will stay on topic without rambling or wasting time talking about things the buyer has no interest in hearing.
When you master this question and can use it with confidence and authenticity – be prepared to take plenty of notes. The customer will open up and offer information you did not expect to ever hear. (I know this from experience and sales clients who have shared their results.)
It is best used with people who are not usually out going and sharing of information. The tough nuts who play it close to their vests and do not seem interested in what ever you have to say. Usually this is because the b2b sales people who have been calling on them seldom ask any questions or show interest in the buyers opinion on things. The Question is a game changer so be prepared to when you use it.