the-most-important-sales-question-youre-not-askingIf you’re a regular reader of this blog (You are, right? RIGHT?), you know that I’m a big fan of questions. Because if you ask your prospect enough of the right questions, they’ll tell you everything you need to know to make the sale.

Yet too many salespeople don’t ask anywhere near enough questions. And even those salespeople who do ask lots of question typically miss a critically important one.

Let me explain.

Throughout the sales process, prospects ask questions of all sorts:

• Will this product do X?
• Do you provide 24/7 service?
• What happens if we have a problem?
• How long does delivery take?
• Can it be configured to _________?
• What is the maximum capacity/output/speed?

Typically, salespeople answer the question and immediately move on. And in doing so, they miss the opportunity to ask an extremely powerful question:

“What makes you ask that?”

Whenever a prospect asks a question, there’s a reason for it. That reason is important for us to know. Asking their motivation for asking the question can give us insights into:

• What issues they’re dealing with
• What issues their customers are dealing with
• Challenges they’ve had with previous vendors
• The competitors they’re considering
• Who else should be involved in the buying process
• Their growth potential
• What else we can help them with

Note that you should ask “What makes you ask?” after you’ve answered their question. If you pose it before you answer, you come across as defensive or shifty. Also be sure to use the word “what” rather than “why.” Being asked “why” immediately puts prospects on the defensive, causing them to feel judged.

In sales, motivation is everything. And the more we know about the prospect’s motivations, the faster and easier the sale. Asking this key question whenever their reason for a question isn’t painfully obvious, will provide you with valuable insights that will produce more sales.