Salespeople make money with both their mouth and their brain, so it’s important for the two to be properly aligned. You’d be hard-pressed to find a salesperson who hasn’t cost themselves a deal by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
But, not saying something can be just as detrimental as saying the wrong thing. Sometimes, our mouth starts going, and before we know it, we’ve told the prospect much more than we ever planned, while forgetting to say the things that would have actually made a difference.
It usually helps to have things written out in front of us. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of things salespeople should say during the course of the sales process in order to hopefully move the deal forward. Feel free to use the ones you like to make your next conversation with a prospect a great one.
1. “How can I help?”
This is something you should ask yourself in addition to asking your prospect. At its core, your job is to figure out how best to help people, even though it might feel like it’s something completely different most of the time. If you’re able to keep this basic concept in your mind at all times, you’ll give yourself a much better shot of closing the deal.
2. “What are your top priorities?”
This is a great question to ask – just make sure that you actually pay attention to the answer, too. Most of the time, people will tell you how they really feel, and in effect give you a roadmap for how to close the deal. If someone says their top priority is speed, you’ll be able to emphasize speed during your sales presentation. Let the prospect tell you how to close their deal.
3. “What’s prompting you to do something about this now?”
Many salespeople skip over this question, but it can be a great way to figure out the real impetus for getting a deal done. Whether the response is, “We’ve been planning it for years,” or “Our current provider is failing us,” the answer to this question is your prospect’s “why,” which is a critical thing for you to know.
4. “Who else is involved in the decision-making process?”
Most salespeople already know to ask this question, because failing to ask can result in spending too much time talking to a person who doesn’t have the power to close the deal (alone). Of course, if the prospect says that someone else is involved in the process, you’ll need to figure out a way to speak with them too. That’s why it’s good to get this question out of the way early.
5. “Can I tell you a little bit about my background?”
Far too many salespeople avoid talking about themselves, either because they’re too busy talking about something else, or because they assume the prospect doesn’t care. While it’s true that the prospect’s needs are the most important part of a sales discussion, telling somebody about the person they’re working with (you) can pay dividends. If you go down this route, make sure to emphasize your background, your role, and why you chose to work for your company. Not only can it be a great way to build rapport, but it’s also an excellent way to separate yourself from your competition and build trust.
6. “What’s your timeline for getting this done?”
Similar to number three, confirming the timeline will give you insight into the prospect’s thought process. You can learn their priorities when it comes to getting the deal done. Unfortunately, you might also find out that the prospect isn’t interested in moving forward until next fall, but at least you’ll know not to invest too much time off the bat.
7. “What has your experience been like before?”
Some salespeople want to avoid talking about the past, usually in an attempt to avoid any and all negativity, but the past can help guide your process if you learn the right lessons. If things have gone poorly for a prospect before, you’ll know which mistakes to avoid. If things have gone well, you can dig deeper and try to find out what it is that the prospect is unsatisfied with. Either way, learning more always helps.
8. “Are you okay with saying no to me?”
You’re probably reading this and thinking, there’s no way I’d ever say this. That’s fine, but don’t discount the value of being open and transparent with prospects, and how much time and effort it can save you. Humans tend to be conflict-averse, which is why you oftentimes have to call people a dozen times before they finally answer the phone and tell you they’re not interested – usually in an exasperated voice. Asking this question helps you avoid that problem, and shows that you’re confident and professional enough to know that your time is valuable.
9. “Let’s set up our next meeting.”
Leave things open-ended at your own risk, but be warned: they almost never work out that way. You should never get off a call or leave a sales meeting without at least trying to get a commitment about the next step. Put it on the calendar, and make sure the prospect accepts the invite. If you don’t do this, then you’re not actually moving the process forward, you’re just crossing your fingers and hoping things work out. And as everyone knows: hope isn’t a sales strategy.
10. “Is there anything else that I need to know?”
Open-ended questions are amazing (unless they’re coming from your in-laws). You’ll be surprised at just how much you can learn by being slightly less prescriptive in your conversation and leaving it in the prospect’s hands. Questions like this can be disarming, which can give the prospect the space to open up and tell you something they might not have otherwise. Wouldn’t it be great to find out that they’re only planning to call one more person before making a decision? Ask and you might find out.