The key to successful consultative selling lies in asking the right questions. Here are 27.5 Must-Ask Questions for Consultative Selling to arm you with Smart Questions instead of Dumb ones.

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The philosophy behind each question assumes that you are a marketing consultant seeking to fill a need or solve a problem that your client is unable to on his own. The 27.5 Questions are designed to uncover the following:

  1. The Need: What’s the problem to solve or the objective to accomplish?
  2. The Obstacle: Why hasn’t the problem been solved? What’s standing in the way of achieving this?
  3. The Attempt: What have they done to overcome this?
  4. The Failure: What happened as a result of each attempt? Why wasn’t the desired outcome achieved?
  5. The Desired Outcome: What is their vision of success?

Many of the questions are very direct, and you may initially feel uncomfortable asking them (I did). Yet, it’s important that you establish a peer-to-peer relationship with your client, that of an equal not a subordinate. You must have the attitude that the consultative sales process is one of mutual commitments. In other words,  you should not commit to doing something (i.e., write a proposal) unless the client makes a reciprocal commitment (i.e., tells you what he will do if the proposal meets all of his requirements).

Which brings me to the last question on my list: “If I can meet all of your requirements at an acceptable price, what will you do?” Clients who refuse to make any type of commitment should raise a red flag. Are they really serious about doing this, or is it just a back-burner project? Are they seriously considering hiring you, or are you just leverage against their current supplier to pressure them into lowering their price?

Undoubtedly, this is the toughest question to ask, but it’s also the most beneficial. If you have the courage to ask, you’ll know your prospect’s intentions. He may say, “We’re just getting some bids,” or “The Board of Directors will have to approve it.” (Which means you failed to ask some key questions from my list.) But he also may say, “I’ll write you a check.”

It was quite exhilarating the first time I heard that.

Questions? Comments? Doubts? Feel free to send me a message.

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