That is a dumb question!


Whoever said there is no such thing as a dumb question hasn’t met some of the salespeople I encounter. For the most part I work with really effective and professional salespeople.  However, over the years I have heard about and occasionally witnessed some incredibly dumb questions come out of the mouths of salespeople.

Here are three of my all-time winners.

“What can I do for you?”

Whew, you are supposed to be the expert.  This question just makes you sound like you have no clue what’s going on.  Instead, start your call with a few discovery questions.  Maybe ask something along the lines of “what are your challenges in production/operations?”  Think more like a doctor when they ask “tell me where it hurts”.  Have you heard a doctor say “I have a great new pill.  Would you like to try one?” Before you begin offering solutions make sure you understand the problem to be solved.

“What’s new?”

Ok, this is really stupid.  Do you truly believe your customer/prospect has nothing better to do than explain all of what is happening in his life?  You are making him guess what he may think is an important tidbit to discuss. The end result is him making a mental note to never see you again.

“We have this great new product/service. Would you like me to show you?”

This is a question of timing.  His answer could be “maybe yes, maybe no”.  As with earlier dumb questions, begin with some discovery.  Maybe your new product actually is just the answer.  On the other hand, do you want to spend 15 minutes putting him to sleep? What if what he really needs is one of your existing solutions and you are just wasting valuable time trying to interest him a product he can’t use? Again, a little discovery goes a long way.

It’s best to know what you are going to talk about before you sit down with your customer or prospect. That is to say, have a reason for being there.  If you are there to talk about a new product offering, you better have reason to believe your prospect might be able to use it. The company that just redecorated their offices is probably not interested in your new line of desk chairs. 

Keep in mind that your customer should be talking 85% of the time. If they, are talking you should be learning.  If you are talking more than 15% of the time…they are waiting for you to shut up!

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