B2B sales is about asking the right questions, and listening deeply to their answers. You should be asking some of these nine questions of most of your customers at some point in the sales cycle.
1. What business problem are you looking to solve?
This question helps you establish an overall singular business goal that the prospect is trying to achieve. You’ll also be able to view it from the perspective of the obstacle that is in the way and quickly determine whether you can help the prospect.
It is the kind of question you want to make sure you ask before you pitch. The pitch happens once and should be solid. To ensure that you get it right, you need a few pointers to guide you on what to exclude and what to cover in detail. You also need to offer a solution that isn’t just likely to work but is also uniquely tailored to their needs.
2. How would this solution improve an average day at work?
With this question, you can get an idea of how the prospect views your business, their presumptions about your offer, and where they see it fitting in their business. The trick is to keep some B2B sales questions broad rather than asking them to elaborate on how your solution eliminates their problem.
It is all about hearing them paint a picture of a perfect day at work. You can zero in on specific tasks and processes to find out what they find tiresome or confusing. From their answers, you’ll also be able to clarify the extent to which your solution addresses specific parts of their workday.
3. What is the ideal outcome you want from this solution?
A solution can be helpful to various businesses in different ways and to a varying extent. This question prompts the prospect to mention the final result of using your solution. And where that outcome is quantifiable and has a specific figure, you can determine the extent to which they want to rely on the solution.
Additionally, if your solution has many features or functions, you can ascertain the most needed one. The question can be something like, “Do you want to be able to package goods faster or have a safer packaging process?” The prospect can then tell you which outcome they desire.
4. What are your top couple of priorities this financial year?
It is essential for a client to feel a near-immediate change when they start doing business with you. It doesn’t matter if the actual significant results may still be further down the road. To make a client feel like they made the right choice picking you, you need to know what they want to tackle first.
So when you ask for the prospect’s priorities in the current quarter, you do not just understand how and where to apply yourself. You’re also getting an idea of how quickly you’ll have to become effective. For instance, the prospect’s priority may be successfully opening a new branch.
You can then start by focusing on how you can fully service that branch as you prepare to deliver to other existing ones.
5. How would this solution impact your business in the long term?
Such a question allows you to get a sense of the prospect’s organization’s more extensive and long-term goals. You can also ask this in a manner that doesn’t come off as intrusive or asking for trade secrets. For example, you may ask, “Are the customers more likely to buy if they get the email on new product offers on time?”
So in this way, you can find out whether helping them get marketing emails out on time helps them hit a revenue goal. If you’re lucky, some prospects might even give you deep insight into how a particular action on your end contributes to a bigger goal of theirs.
6. How does our solution compare with others you are considering?
While it may seem like this question makes you come off as afraid of the competition, that may not be the case. A seller who shows that they are aware of other people doing what they do and that the customer can opt for them comes off as serious.
This question can also help you discover the areas in which you might be lacking. You might even find out how much the prospect is fond of you, outside of your business capabilities. If a prospect says there’s no big difference between you and the rest, it may indicate a need to work harder to stand out.
7. What is your decision-making process?
Many organizations differ when it comes to their size and the resultant level of bureaucracy. You need to know whether you are speaking to someone who makes decisions. Furthermore, it is crucial to know who else has to weigh in and whether you need to cultivate a relationship with them.
This question also enables you to get a sense of the length of their decision-making process along with any steps that may be unique to the prospect’s organization. With this information, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the process and be ready for each stage by the time you get to it.
8. Who else in the business should we involve in our conversations?
If you get the sense that other people are involved in the decision-making process, this question can help you find out who they are. And in some cases, it may not even be about other decision-makers. There might be some ultra-specific information you need that is best conveyed by one of the prospect’s teammates who has more accurate data.
You can easily find out who else you may be coming into regular contact with if the deal goes through. The question may be as simple as asking who’s the go-to person for certain figures or a breakdown of a specific internal process.
9. What are the consequences of not proceeding with this solution?
Ask this question gently and with care. When you ask this genuinely, and you are not trying ‘SPIN’ the prospect into buying, you will get useful information that will help you understand your buyer more holistically.
You might discover some more pressing priorities on their plate. You might also find they have alternate solutions to this particular problem you were not aware of. All this information will help you correctly forecast the chances of the deal moving forward, and potentially help you work on a more important or pressing priority your customer has.