Behind the words ‘lead’ and ‘prospect’ is a person and despite your desperation to know if you’ve got a qualified lead for your pipeline, resist temptation to ask the following questions:
Who is the decision maker in this process?
First of all, they might be the ‘decision-maker’ to you, but to your prospect they are a colleague or their boss, be careful on your use of language. Secondly, this question can belittle your contact and make them feel unimportant, you need this person to be your champion for your product or service, make them feel special. If you’re keen to find out who will have the final sign off you can ask in a gentler way, “So whose support will you need on your team in order to get this launched?” Make your prospect the hero.
How long have you worked at the company and what do you do?
Never ask this question, it’s so lazy. Most people have their career history plastered all over LinkedIn. If you’re really interested in the answer to the question, find out the information first and use it to build a great relationship. A better question would be “So I see you’ve been at A&B Partners for 3 years and just started a new role, how are you finding it?” Care about your prospect.
So can you tell me a bit about the company?
Never ask a question that a few minutes of time spent on a company website can answer for you. You’re wasting your prospects time as well as yours, you could be asking far more insightful questions that google can’t answer for you. Research your prospects company.
When are you looking to make a decision
Of course, you want to know how ‘hot’ this lead is but put bluntly this can come across as a selfish question from a sales person, especially if it’s discussed before talking through your prospects needs. Soften the question by asking “How important is it to get this project launched?” or “Where does this fit into all the other projects you’re juggling?” If you use an open-ended question you’re more likely to get a better picture of your prospects priorities. Show an understanding of your prospects world.
ANY question that’s followed by your own answer
You know that moment where you ask a question and you can’t stop talking so you end up answering the question on your prospects behalf instead of letting them talk. I’ve done it many times, especially when getting familiar with a new product or early on in a new job, nerves play a big part. Learn to ask a question and then stop talking and listen. Your prospect knows the answer and you want the real ‘unguided’ truth. Engage with your prospect.
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