Early in my career, there was no sales training and I had never sold prior to my first job. Additionally, I knew nothing about the copiers I was hired to sell and was given the silent treatment because management figured I would fail anyway.

What they didn’t know is that failure isn’t in my vocabulary. And, I was determined to build my personal brand.

The best strategy I found was to ask questions of my clients-to-be. Should you be having a difficult time making sales, give questioning a try. Below are the questions I found to work best. Additionally, the underlying value found in the answers indicate how your prospect prefers to be sold.

As you are gradually granted appointments, and upon entering those offices, thank the people you encounter for their time. Ask the person meeting you this first question: “Why did you invite me in?”

Not only will you get the answer, but also invaluable insight will be provided as to what you did correctly and which strategy to continue. The other benefit of asking this question is that the typical “just curious” is eliminated. Instead, you get to the heart of the matter as to what is on the other person’s mind and the company’s dilemma. This one question begins the process of securing sales.

Also inquire as to all the responsibilities the person has who is meeting with you. You will see people light up with delight upon being asked. For a moment, you put them in the spotlight as they begin to confide their experiences both good and bad. The underlying value is you will better understand more about the company and how you may potentially help them resolve some issues.

Another style would be to ask, “What challenges are you facing?” Potential clients love this question, and it encourages a deeper dialogue. The offshoot of this is to more readily develop a relationship both personally and professionally.

Most people find this next question the most difficult to ask which is, “What is your budget?” When you have multiple options to offer, it is vitally important to know what your prospect has in mind to spend. Most often, due to the preceding questions, you will be told the truth and able to offer valid ideas for consideration versus shooting in the dark as most businesspeople do.

The budget question leads to a dialogue regarding possibilities. The next question, “How do you believe I can assist you?” lets the intended client know you are there to help. Upon hearing this, serious consideration is given to doing business with you.

Many sales leaders will imply closing requires master sales skills, some manipulation, and memorizing of specific verbiage. None of this, in my opinion, is true. I’m a big fan of Dale Carnegie who long ago said, “Closing is nothing more than the conclusion of a conversation”.

Remaining authentic and true to self is imperative for forging relationships and moving forward. The better question to ask, after having completed all of the above is simply, “When would you like to get started?”

This last question does conclude the conversation, maintains the integrity of all that went before, and puts the ball in the prospective client’s court to announce the intended sale and date for moving forward. Nothing is left to the imagination, and you have the tools to not only get the one sale but also repeat business, referrals and testimonials.

Following these ideas will lead you to the Smooth Sale!


Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale, (800) 704-1499; authored “INSPIRED Business A New View for Building Business and Communities”; “Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results”, and “HIRED! How to Use Sales Techniques to Sell Yourself On Interviews“. Elinor was designated as a “Top 25 Sales Influencer for 2012.”