Sellers, What Are You Missing? - Questions to Help Forecast Your Sales Blog Feature
Steve Bookbinder

By: Steve Bookbinder on July 23rd, 2015

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Sellers, What Are You Missing? - Questions to Help Forecast Your Sales

selling | Sales Tips | prospect management

As a salesperson, you know the importance of gaining information, but ironically big opportunities are often missed by only focusing on the questions. Sales success is accelerated when you go beyond hearing the answers to your questions and listen to what’s missing and what’s not being said.   

When you’re in a sales meeting and the customer is telling you the story of their company and their needs, you shouldn’t merely listen…you need to evaluate.

Ask yourself why they have chosen to begin describing their world in that way.

Why have they decided to include certain details while being vague about others? What impression are they trying to give me? What reaction are they looking for?

How many times have they told someone else that same thing or is this the first time they’re saying it? How much did they think about what they are telling me before this meeting began?  

Your mind shouldn’t be wandering, but you need to be actively analyzing how hard or easy this sale might be. What are the fewest number of steps needed to close the sale?

In order to reduce the number of steps it takes to close the deal, you need to learn what may have blocked a sale from progressing in the past. Have you identified all of the things that could get in the way of this opportunity? Or is it really smooth sailing?

missing-puzzle-piecesThis analysis of risk and reward must be done all the while remembering that sales meetings never happen in a vacuum. Think of the sales meeting as a blip on the timeline - what happened before it that we missed?

If the potential client does have a new problem that needs a solution, what changed causing this new priority? When did it happen? What has happened in the lives of the individual buyers before they came to this company or in their prior role that may impact a decision they would make with me?  

Learning past buying behaviors will make a big difference in your sales cycle. So, don’t miss a chance to ask these underlying questions in order to truly understand the company and the individual buyer you will be working with.

  • Have you ever bought a service/product/solution like the one I sell? How/why did you select that vendor, package of services/budget? Why did they do it when they did it?
  • Have you personally been involved in this kind of decision before?
  • [If the meeting is due to your prospecting] What were you going to do if I hadn’t called?  Why didn’t you call us?
  • [If they called you and requested information, perhaps from a referral] What were you discussing with that other person that led to our company getting recommended?
  • Why didn’t you already buy a solution and/or use your own internal resources?
  • How is this year different from last year?  What do you expect to change next year?

If you’re getting information that essentially answers these questions then you’ll be much better equipped to forecast the sale and not base it solely on gut feelings or guesses. When you learn what’s missing, you miss fewer sales.

Competitive Selling


About Steve Bookbinder

Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.

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