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The One Question Salespeople Don’t Ask– and Should


Salespeople ask many great questions during meetings with prospects.They ask probing onesabout their prospect’s pain and uncover their prospect’s short-term and long-term goals.

However, the most important question often not asked in the sales conversation is, “How committed are you and your organization to eliminating this pain and/or achieving this goal?” I am not talking about qualifying for the amount of time and dollars needed for a successful engagement. I am talking about only one thing –your prospect’s commitment level to change and improvement.

Salespeople waste a boatload of time with prospects that talk a good game about improvement. However, when it comes time to put pen to paper, the excuses start rolling in.“The timing isn’t right. I’m not sure we can pull people out of the field for training. The IT department isn’t sure we need to do this.”

Do you really want to write one more proposal for uncommitted prospects?

Uncovering a prospect’s commitment to change and improvement requires hard selling skills (sales IQ) and emotional intelligence skills (sales EQ). A salesperson must be assertive and ask for what they need — a prospect that is truly committed to moving out of the status quo.

Accelerate close ratios and decrease practice proposals by asking for a commitment to change and improvement.

Remember, you can’t be more committed to your prospect’s success than they are.

Years ago, I was introduced to a very successful law firm. We met around its big, beautiful boardroom tableand had a good conversation. Then one of the lawyers asked, “Well, do you think your firm can help us?” They were probably expecting the enthusiastic response of, “Yes. We do great work.  I am married to a lawyer. I know what you need.”

Instead, I tested their commitment to change and improvement by calling out the sales elephant in the room. “Yes, we can help you. However, we need to talk about the real problem that will get in the way of improving your law firm’s business-development skills. None of you will want to take time out of your busy, billable schedules to invest time in training.”

They exchanged glances around the room, the sales elephant started dancing on the beautiful boardroom table and the real sales conversation began about the level of the firm’s commitment to investing time as well as dollars. (Yes, they became a client.)

Here are questions to qualify your prospect’s commitment to change and improvement.

  1. Most organizations have a lot of competing priorities on their mile-long need-to-get-done list. Where is getting ______________________ falling on this priority list?
  2. Change is difficult and often, organizationsaren’t willing to do what it takes to improve. In the past, when has your organization successfully navigated through a difficult change?
  3. Where is the organization’s commitment level to _____________________________? Who in your organization is not onboard and how will that affect a successful outcome?

Keep asking the consultative questions during your sales calls because they are important.   And remember to ask the powerful questions about your prospect’s commitment to change and improvement.
Good Selling!

Colleen Stanley is the author of Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success and Growing Great Sales Teams, an international sales keynote speaker and has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Sales Bloggers in the world for the last 4 years. She is the creator of the Ei Selling® System, a unique and powerful sales program that integrates emotional intelligence skills with consultative selling skills. Salesforce has named Colleen as one of the most influential sales figures of the 21st century.

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