Friday, December 10, 2010

8 Sales Questions you can't live (and sell) without

By Jim Domanski

Questions help you uncover what you need to know to sell. Without good ones, you're just stumbling in the dark.

Make no mistake about it; questions are the key to good selling. Good questions will get you good information. Good information helps you sell and sell more. Here are eight great questions that you simply can't sell without. These are not the only questions you could ask, but they'll serve you well in every selling situation.

1. The Who Question
Never, ever assume that the person you are speaking with is the decision-maker. Your contact may be only one of a number of individuals who could influence the sale. Know the players so you can prepare strategies and tactics to deal with them. Your challenge is to find out if there are other participants in the decision without putting your contact on the spot. If you're too blunt, the prospect might mislead you. Here is a simple question that you can't live without. Use it every time:

"Amanda, apart from yourself, who is involved in this decision?"

Here's a variation: "Kevin, in purchases like these, there are usually several people involved. Apart from yourself, who else would have a vested interest in the decision?" 

2. The When Question
I am amazed at how many reps ignore this powerful and insightful question:

"Kathy, when do you see the final decision being made and delivery taken?" Or, "Mr. Woods, if this were a go, when do you see it occurring?"

The when question helps you to assess urgency. A decision that will be made within a week has more urgency than a decision that will be made in three months. Knowing when the sale might conclude helps you set priorities, determines the time and effort you devote and dictates your follow up strategy. 

3. The Scenario Question 
Discovering a prospect's needs can be challenging in the early stages of selling. When prospects don't know you, they tend to be much more reserved in the information they share. Many are not comfortable telling you about their "warts and blemishes" (i.e., their needs, challenges, weaknesses and concerns) until you've established some rapport. To get around this hesitancy, use a scenario question. As the name implies, the scenario question paints a scenario that addresses a problem or concern without putting the prospect on the spot. Here are a couple of examples:

"Ms. Bixby, much of our research with our clients shows that cash flow is sometimes an issue particularly with the fluctuating price of oil. Let me ask you, what has been your experience with cash flow over the last year or so?"

"Scott, we are getting more and more feedback from IT Directors and managers from large corporations regarding the misuse of licensing agreements. It's creating some concerns about compliance. Let me ask you: what has been your experience with this so far?"

The scenario question is based on the premise that misery loves company. You want the prospect to think, "Gee, if others are experiencing the same thing then it's okay for me to open up." Master the scenario question and you'll get to needs quicker, reduce your sales cycle and convert more sales in less time.

4. The Net Impact Question
Even if you use a scenario question and the client opens up to you, it doesn't necessarily mean that the prospect's need is strong enough for him to take action. One of the best questions you can ask to determine the depth and breadth of a need is the net impact question. Here are two versions: 

"So what's the net impact on your firm when cash flow is tight?" Or, "What's the possible net impact if licensing agreements are abused in your branch offices?"

The net impact forces your prospect to think about the rippling effect of a problem. It gets him to do some analysis. In effect, you want him to say, "Gee, I never thought of it like that." Suddenly, seemingly minor problems become more significant. Or, you learn the net impact is minor. If so, avoid wasting your time. Move on. Because the question is opened-ended it gets your client to expand and elaborate. You get information and information is power.

5. The Explain Question
Here's a versatile question you can use in many different scenarios. It gets the client to open up by enticing him to speak up, expand, pontificate, ruminate, elaborate and articulate. 

For instance, suppose the prospect tosses the classic price objection. Say this, "Eric, could you explain to me what you mean by 'too high'?" You're asking him to elaborate. Is the price too high relative to what - budget? A competitive bid? Or, is it a smokescreen? Regardless, the client must open up.

Suppose your client says "We're not all that happy with flux modulators." Try, "Wendi, could you explain to me why you're not happy?" This is a buying signal. Exploit it. 
Suppose the prospect says, "Well, I'd have to go to committee with that proposal." Respond with, "I understand completely. Joel, can explain to me how the committee operates and how they go about evaluating a proposal?"

Suppose you're probing for needs. You can say, "Ms. Barton, explain to me the challenges you're experiencing in penetrating the Canadian market."

6. The Make Sense Question
Call this one a trial close. Keep it handy because you'll use it a lot. Use this simple, close-ended question after pitching your product or tackling an objection. For example, suppose you have presented a financial planning strategy regarding mutual funds. Just ask,

"Does that make sense to you so far?" Or, "Am I making sense to you right now?"

This question does a couple of things. First, it tosses the conversation back into your prospect's lap. This creates 'give and take' dialog. It forces you to relinquish control of the call and stops you from rambling. Second, the make sense question helps you gauge whether the client is on board or not. But, you must listen to the words and tone of your client. If your prospect says, "Ya sure, I guess" with a vague and uncertain tone, clearly it does not make sense. Stop right there and reverse gears by saying, "It sounds like I may have confused things a bit and I sense some hesitancy. Can you explain to me what you're thinking?" (Notice the use of the versatile explain question.) On the other hand, if the client gives you a positive and enthusiastic, "Ya, it makes total sense" they have, in effect, given you a buying signal.

Don't be afraid to liberally pepper your sales call with make sense questions. Variations include, "Do you follow?," "How does that sound to you?" and "Am I on the right track?" 

7. The Removal Question
Here's a question that will help you deal with objections and concerns. The removalquestion efficiently 'removes' the issue at hand and asks the client her thoughts based on that scenario. Suppose a prospect says, "It's really great, but it's just not in our budget." You reply: 

"Fair enough, Brandi. Let me ask, if budget was not an issue, would you proceed with the proposal as outlined?"

If Brandi says yes, then you can negotiate or come up with terms or arrange financing because her objection is not a smokescreen but the real thing. If she says, "Well, ya, but I am also a little concerned about the maintenance program," you've discovered that it's not a budgetary issue or that budget is only part of a number of issues.

Suppose the client says, "Well, I have to go to the buying group on this one." You say, "I understand. Steve, suppose there wasn't a buying group, what would be your decision?" By removing the objection, you can determine if Steve's on board or not. Either way, you are well on the way to handling the client's issue.

8. The Try Question
It's time to close the sale. One of the best questions to close the sale is this:

"So, Angie, would you like to give it a try?" or, "Why not give it a try?"

I stole this question from Jeffrey Fox, author of "How to Become a Rainmaker." He calls it a killer sales question and he's right. I use it now and I cannot sell without it. Why? Because, as Fox explains, to most people 'try' is a revocable act, a decision that can be reversed. It sounds and feels temporary. Fox concludes that people feel that to try something is a sample or a test, not a commitment to buy. But in reality, they either buy or they don't buy. There is no "try" buy. But, psychologically the prospect has an easier time making the decision to say yes to the purchase.

These are eight of the best selling questions of all time. These are classics that work. You will sell better, and sell more, when you use them.

Jim Domanski is a tele-sales expert and president of Teleconcepts Consulting. Teleconcepts Consulting helps businesses and individuals who are frustrated with the results they have being getting when using the telephone to market and sell their products. For more information visit:
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Praise for Top Dog Sales Secrets
"One of these top dog secrets can earn you a fortune."
– Jeffrey Gitomer

"It's like reading the best ideas from 50 sales books all in one book."
– Michelle Nichols, Savvy Selling International

"I HIGHLY recommend it for the inspiration AND the skills that one will learn or 're-learn.' It is easy to read, entertaining, and very broad in topic selection."
– Lori Richardson, Score More Sales

Order your copy of the book today to learn an effective 
strategy that will help you take back control of the sale.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Real entrepreneurship and networking

Hi everyone,

I thought it would be nice to send you an update on my progress and daily activities given I am now an entrepreneur again. How much more 'back to basics' could it be?

Well.. here's the low-down:

After registering my company, receiving the tax forms, launching my website, opening a Twitter account, updating my blog and printing business cards, it seemed all the work was done, right? Wrong! This is where it starts!

Too often, I run into people that are busy with the above and think they will be making money as soon as their business is up and running. The question of course is, what is our definition of up and running? Sending invoices for services delivered and collecting money from those invoices. THAT is when a company is up and running.

In other words: I'm just getting started. I am very busy, don't get me wrong. Another misconception for being 'up and running'. Being busy means nothing unless it means working on either getting clients or doing business for clients. This exactly what I am doing now.

Funny how it always comes back to sales: Identifying your anticipated core group of potential clients, formulating your business pitch and going at it!

From the start, I have been working on setting up my prospect list, and a list of people or companies that can help me find clients (by proxy). In the past 6 weeks I have been calling those people to get appointments and introduce myself, and to discuss if and how we see fit for my business offering.

As a result, although still in the early stages, I have accepted an assignment as CEO for an e-commerce start-up called Traffical. (

This awesome Blackberry application allows one to automatically generate your estimated travel time by car (based on historical data and some complex algorithms) when booking a meeting in your agenda.
The application then books the travel time so that others, like your assistant, know that you will not be available for other (physical) meetings or, alternatively, are available for a phone call (while in your car) during that time.
In addition, 90 minutes before your suggested time of departure, Traffical periodically (every 10 minutes) checks actual traffic information for congestions and alerts you ahead of time if you need to leave earlier to be able to make it to your appointment on time.

Isn't that great? Now who would not want to spend less time in traffic if you can avoid it?
Obviously, we are aiming at (large) enterprises with many mobile professionals that run into traffic all the time and hope to save them time, money and hassle. I have now connected with companies like Vodafone, KPN, KPMG, PWC, and others to explain our application and see if there's a fit.

While the group of investors in this start-up already is very reputable and certainly makes my life easier opening doors for Traffical, I now meet or speak with new people every day, which, in turn, opens up discussions about my company Salesguru and my company's offering - which in turn leads to more conversations about sales training, coaching or business development advise.

This is my version of networking on the go. I don't lose as much time now as I do with a beer in my hand at a social networking event in some bar (although entertaining).
In fact, I am actually doing business, while doing some prospecting at the same time.
Great combination! However, I had to build up my social and professional network to get there - and have actively been building this for the past decade and more. It takes time to connect with people and become effectiver at it.

If you are working on a start-up, and haven't (yet) built a large network, I recommend digging into and attending some of the business events in your neighbourhood. Spend some time going out and meeting new people, but always try to make combinations in your mind as to how you could fit into their business, or perhaps solve some of your conversation partner's business problems.

In addition, and perhaps even more important, always try to figure out if you can help someone without charging them for it. Maybe you know someone that could help them, or have a contact that might be interested in their services. Not charging them for it makes you a good person to be in contact with, not so much a philantropist that -therefore- never makes any money. Remember: what goes around comes around. You should not expect to get anything in return, but in many cases you will.

Open Coffee is one of those initiatives, but there are many breakfast tables, business round tables or other types of meet-ups that allow you to do the above. All of a sudden, opportunities will present themselves at you. As a matter of fact, this week I was invited to be in an interview with Traffic Radio this Friday afternoon at 4pm. Obviously, I hope to get some airtime to explain both the ins and outs of Traffical as well as Salesguru NL.

Go out and meet people, enhance your social and business network at the same time! It is really much, much easier to call someone you have met before or have some connection with than calling them out of the blue without any personal connection or reference.
Plus, you might make some new friends while doing it!

Happy selling!


PS My apologies for the shameless commercial plugging.
PPS If you have any questions about Traffical, please e-mail me at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SALESGURU NL is a company

After almost three years of writing blogs on SALESGURU.NL and being involved in sales management discussions I have decided that this isn't enough. Many salesmen around the world, although already skilled and intrinsically motivated for themselves, enjoy inspiration, motivation and information from an outside source that can help them do their job while enjoying it even more.

Why would you just rely on your direct (sales) manager to motivate you? Many experienced, and even less experienced peers face the same hurdles to success as you do. It makes complete sense, therefore, to extend this platform to an active forum for everyone to exchange insights.

In addition, I noticed that many companies that are not sales-oriented organizations in their core, find it tough to match the financially driven with content-focused professionals. I have now made it my mission to promote the sales profession amongst non-sales people (that need sales for their business nonetheless) and to support businesses with their organizational challenges around sales.

My themes are:
* Sales Athlete - top performance in sales
* Anyone can sell (but perhaps there's a lot to learn)
* Commercial thinking isn't dirty 
* Creating opportunities for your business

The form of sharing insights on these topics is through training, coaching, my blogs, consulting assignments or in-house business development support.

More information will be shared later, but please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or ideas. All interaction is greatly appreciated!

You can reach me at, follow me on twitter at SalesguruNL, or call me at+31 621500878 if you have any questions.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If you haven't seen this website yet.... go there now!

Great discussions, tools and advice.

Now go get 'm and sell something!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Staying Motivated in Challenging Times

Quote of the Week: "Do not let what you can't do interfere with what you can do." — John Wooden
Publisher's Note:

Today's sales climate requires going way beyond "positive thinking." To succeed you need motivation, purpose, energy and an action plan. Dave Kahle's thought-provoking article gives you important insights into what it really takes to overcome the downturn.

Staying Motivated in Challenging Times
by Dave Kahle
Sales is an emotional roller coaster, and unless you figure out how to manage those emotions and keep yourself motivated, you'll have a difficult time succeeding. This is particularly true during a downturn. The economy struggles and unemployment rises. Many companies cut back, there are fewer jobs available, and pressures to perform are greater than ever. It's easy to lose our motivation.

However, even though the world around us may be dreary and depressing, that in no way reduces our personal need to do the best we can. That means we all have a responsibility to stay motivated.

It is amazing what a difference a few degrees of attitude adjustment can make in our performance. Try this little exercise. Tell yourself these things: "Business is terrible. All of my customers are struggling. Nobody wants to see me, and when they do, it's just to complain." Now wallow in those thoughts for a moment, and note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.

Now, think the opposite: "I have great opportunities. My customers need me more today than ever. I have valuable solutions for them. It's a great time to have this job." Roll those around in your mind for a while. Note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.

As you reflect on this exercise, it's clear that your energy, enthusiasm and drive to succeed come as a result of your thoughts. Here is one of the most powerful truths known to mankind: You can control your thoughts.

Going beyond "Positive Thinking"
Succeeding in difficult times depends a great deal on our motivation. Staying motivated requires us to take charge of our thoughts.

I've heard dozens of salespeople say, "I've tried positive thinking. It just isn't me." I agree that it is difficult to patch a bunch of positive thoughts on top of an essentially negative personality. The issue is deeper than that. Let's, therefore, examine the deeper issues.

At the heart of motivation lies a pair of powerful beliefs that you must embrace if you are going to successfully motivate yourself. Without a wholehearted commitment to these foundational beliefs, all the techniques and tactics for self-motivation are like spreading wallpaper over crumbling plaster. It may hold temporarily, but it is soon going to deteriorate into a mess.

Here's the first foundational principle: You must believe that you can do better than you are now doing. The second is this: You must accept that it is your responsibility to do so.

It's simple and commonsense, but, the more I observe people and salespeople specifically, the more convinced I am that the majority of people do not share these core beliefs. Rather, they are in the habit of making excuses for their situation. They believe fate, not their actions, determines their success. They believe success is for someone else, not them. They never really grab unto the first of these foundational principles.

Others believe that they can achieve greater degrees of success. They embrace the first principle, intellectually, but they never internalize the second. They become content with their situation and remain in pre-established comfort zones. They look at their manager as the person who is responsible for their success, or lack thereof. Maybe it's their parent's fault or their spouse's, or... the list goes on.

Whether you are struggling with a lack of energy that accompanies a bad day, or you're depressed and frustrated with your lack of progress on a larger scale, examine your core beliefs first. If you really accept these two principles, you have the keystone in place to become highly motivated.

Having said that, here are a couple proven techniques you can use to keep yourself motivated day-to-day.
Have a Compelling Purpose
Have something you are working to accomplish. This can be an important and compelling goal like saving enough money for a down payment on a house. When you are working toward something like that, your emotions of the moment tend to be a lower priority than your drive to achieve. If you are trying to make money for a home for your family, so what if you're tired or depressed? You get out and do it.

The same is true for having a compelling purpose. I believe that every salesperson should be able to articulate clearly his or her purpose in life. I once began a ten-week sales training program with a requirement that everyone write a two-sentence "life purpose." Why? Because it gives power and focus to everything you do. In your job as a salesperson, there will many difficult times when things don't go your way. You may lose a big deal, or be unable to get anyone to return your calls. At times like these, it helps to view them within the context of a larger perspective: your life purpose.

Choose Your Thoughts
Proactively put positive thoughts into your mind. Make a point of taking charge of your mind and the kind of thoughts you choose to think. Wise and thoughtful people for ages have discovered an extremely powerful principle: Your actions arise from your thoughts, and you can choose your thoughts.

Controlling and managing your thoughts is one of the basic tenants of Zen Buddhism, for example. In the Christian context, the apostle Paul said, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Philosophers, educators, and thinkers of every generation conclude the same thing.

But the power of this truth is not reserved just for philosophers. Salespeople can use it as well. The reason you may feel depressed or anxious is because you are thinking depressing or anxious thoughts. Change your thoughts, and you can change your feelings. Change your emotions, and you can change your behavior. Change your behavior and you can change your results. It's not as difficult as it may sound.

Take Action
Do this: invest in a couple of audio programs filled with good, positive stuff, or find something at the local library. As you drive between appointments and on your way home from work, listen to those tapes or CDs. You'll find yourself thinking positive thoughts. Those positive thoughts will lead to a more positive attitude. That attitude will manifest in more focused actions. Those actions will lead to better results.

There is no limit to the amount of positive, educational material available to you. If you are not regularly exposing yourself to some of this, it is because you are choosing to not be motivated.

Succeeding in difficult times requires you to take charge of your motivation. Now is the time to take this most important step to becoming a true professional.

Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople and sales managers to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored seven books and presented in 47 states and seven countries. Visit his site here. This article is excerpted from Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Hi everyone,

Back from New York.
Great to see that this country still has so much to offer.

I had an inspiring evening last night, networking with some high standing individuals from a great diversity of backgrounds. Entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, sports managers, performance coaches - how could I not be excited about meeting all those folks and hearing - absorbing - their stories and sharing some of my own.

It dawned upon me this morning. Inspiration comes from all around.
If you feel bored or your job or your work environment doesn't excite you anymore: find some inspiration - a new angle that makes you look at things with different eyes. It often brings more depth and more insight to matter you felt you were already familiar with.

Go out and meet new people, ask them questions, devour the answers.

Be inspired.