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28 Sales Questions to Research Your Prospective Client

Last week week we covered the 7 reasons planning is critical for sales success.  Now it’s time to get tactical.  In the next few posts we will cover the actual questions you should be asking to research your prospective client and prepare for your sales encounter.

The Six Elements of Sales Encounter Planning

Regardless of the methodology or tools you use to plan each sales encounter, you should cover these six elements:

  1. Research
  2. Value Proposition
  3. Questions
  4. Advances
  5. Unexpected Value
  6. Agenda

In this post we will cover the first area – Research.


Research is the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about your prospect—their drivers and characteristics, market and sub-markets, challenges and financial status, goals and objectives, the particulars about this potential opportunity including other alternatives or solutions they may be considering.  It is the homework you do before your meeting.

Every sales encounter must be inherently valuable for our client, and the key to making that happen is being relevant to their situation and challenges.  And the key to being relevant is planning.

28 Questions to Research Your Prospective Client

Here are 28 questions to get you started on your potential client research:

  1. In what industry, market, and sub-market is your prospective client?
  2. What types of clients do they have?
  3. What are the drivers in their industry right now?
  4. What is their financial status?
  5. What are their goals and objectives?

Consider their current situation:

  1. What are the challenges regarding their current situation?
  2. What is the impact of their current situation and challenges?
  3. What hidden challenges might they encounter?
  4. What might the impact of those hidden challenges be?
  5. What risks are likely to be of greatest concern to them?
  6. What fears might they be feeling about a making a bad decision?

Consider the importance of each specific issue:

  1. What are the specific issues this client is facing?
  2. How great is the impact of each specific issue?
  3. What is their priority for resolving each specific issue?

Consider their decision-making process:

  1. Who will be involved in the decision-making process?
  2. What process will they go through as they evaluate?
  3. Where are they in the process now?
  4. What have they accomplished up to this point?
  5. What is the scheduled time for a decision to be made?
  6. What are the drivers behind the timing of their decision?
  7. What criteria will they use to determine their ultimate solution?
  8. How will they go about making their final decision?
  9. What other solutions or alternatives are they or might they be considering?
  10. What are the pros and cons of those possible solutions?

Consider the resources and constraints they may facing:

  1. Who on their team will be involved in implementing the project?
  2. What thought has been given to a budget for the results they are seeking?
  3. What has kept them from solving this problem already?
  4. What other improvement opportunities might they have overlooked?

Depending on your type of sale there may be additional research you might need to conduct before your meeting.  Embrace the process.  A stitch in time saves nine.  Answering these questions will allow you to focus your message while revealing the additional information you need to uncover.  Rather than winging it as most salespeople do, you will enter your meeting with higher level of understanding and your prospective client will be impressed by the homework you’ve done.

How we sell is a sample of how we solve.  And the homework you do before your meeting will telegraph the kind of results they will receive and deliver a message of what it will be like to work with you and your company after the sale.

Professionals research and prepare for each sales encounter.

Using a planning process will greatly improve the effectiveness of your meetings. More effective meetings will solidify your credibility, perceived authority, and differentiate you from your competition.  Better understanding means your clients will be more likely to achieve their desired solutions while you enjoy higher close ratios, more closed opportunities, and greater personal success.



Closing Tip:  Conduct research before each sales encounter to make the meeting relevant and inherently valuable.

Until next time!


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