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Stupid Sales Questions #1: “How are you?”
This is one of those sales questions that’s particularly personal to me. Why? Because I hear it all the time. “How are you?” is used as a conversation starter in about 95% of selling situations. What’s crazy is that salespeople just ask, “How are you?” like a reflex, but it’s actually killing their ability to sell. Prospects know that salespeople don’t really care how they’re doing. So this question is disingenuous, and it breeds resentment in your prospects from the get-go.
“How are you?” is really just a time-filler, something to say to take up space at the beginning of an awkward conversation. Given that most salespeople start calls, meetings and even emails with this cliché sales question, you need to stop. Don’t ever ask anyone this stupid sales question again. Instead, try starting a conversation with prospects with a simpler, more distinct question like, “Did I catch you in the middle of something?” This sales question will catch your prospects off guard and you’ll be more likely to actually engage them.
Stupid Sales Questions #2: “Can I pick your brain?”
"Hey, George, can we set up a call so I can pick your brain on what you'd be looking to accomplish?" Wow. That is the worst. First of all, nobody wants their brain to be picked. I mean, just visualize it. On a serious note, any sales questions similar to this are a complete turn-off to prospects. Even sales questions like, “Can we set up a call so I can learn more about your challenges?” are useless, because they show absolutely zero value on the salesperson’s part.
Instead, you need to show value. Engage your prospects in a conversation by email, phone, or whatever, and show some value through the quality of your sales questions and the information that you've provided, then just set the logical next step to go deeper. Brain picking is no-no.
Stupid Sales Questions #3: “Would you be interested if...?”
“George, would you be interested if I could show you a way to double your sales?” Of course he would. This stupid sales question is not only old-school, but it's also patronizing to your prospects. Moreover, you're already starting from the wrong place. In a selling situation, you're not trying to get prospects interested; you're trying to uncover their challenges. Interest is old-school. New-school, modern-day selling is all about asking sales question that help you identify the challenges that matter—and then solving them. Interest-based selling focuses on the product that you’re selling rather than the actual prospect, so drop it. Instead, ask strong sales questions that uncover challenges.
Stupid Sales Questions #4: “Are you the decision maker?”
“Hey, George, are you the decision maker?” What do you think George wants to say in response to that question? Of course, he wants to say yes—even if the answer is really no. This sales question is way too direct, and it will never get you the information you really need in a selling situation. All you'll actually accomplish by asking this stupid sales question is either getting false information or actually pissing the prospect off.
Instead, learn about the prospect’s decision-making process by focusing on the process itself. It takes a lot of pressure off of the prospect. When you as the right sales questions to dig into a prospect’s decision-making process, the prospect will inevitably tell you who's involved in making the decision and, more importantly, how the company actually goes about making that decision.
Stupid Sales Questions #5: “What can I tell you at this point that would make you want to buy?”
“George, what can I tell you right now that would make you sign on the dotted line?” I feel like I need to take a shower are writing that question—it’s just that dirty. This sales question is so old-school, so high pressure, so transparent, that I shouldn't even have to explain what’s wrong with it. But the biggest problem here is the pressure that it's putting on the prospect. With sales questions like this, you’re going to get a ton of think-it-overs. It’s time to start asking sales questions that help your prospects to uncover challenges, show them how your offering will actually help them resolve issues, and then set clear next steps.
So, there you have it. Now you know the five stupid sales questions that you should never ask. There are the five stupid sales questions that you should never ask. I want to hear from you. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.