Do I move forward with this lead or cut them loose now? 

The more complex your sales, the more critical these nine questions are. The deeper you are into B2B, the more critical they are, too. 

They still apply to simplistic sales and B2C, but you’re going to find a tremendous amount of connection if you’re B2B.

1. What’s the specific issue the customer needs help with? 

In other words, do we really know what specific issue the customer needs help with… and how do we know this? 

Have we seen similar issues with other companies in the same space? 

Because the customer may share their specific issue, but if we haven’t seen it in other companies in their industry, is it valid? Is it real? It may very well be, but I want to make sure that what I’m seeking to help you solve truly is the problem. 

2. How interested is the customer in our potential solution? 

What specifically have they said that validates their interest? 

Are they interested in our solution only because:

  • they really want to know what’s going on in the industry
  • OR they’re looking at something else and they want something to compare it to. 

In other words, I need to hear them say they like our potential solution and how it can fit in their world. 

via Mr. D on GIPHY

3. What are the customer’s strategic objectives for the next several years?

How does our solution help them with those objectives? 

I want to be able to go downstream and look two or three years out at the customer’s strategic objectives. 

If you’re selling a complex solution that’s going to be in place for 5-10 years, you better know this! It’s not just what their environment is today; it’s what their environment is going to be 2-4 years from now. 

4. Who are the competitors we could be dealing with and what are their strengths and weaknesses? 

The bigger the sale, the more likely there are going to be other competitors talking to the customer. 

The customer’s going to look at some others, especially if there’s a procurement department involved, or purchasing agents…so who are they?

What are their strengths and weaknesses? Because that’s going to help us shape our value proposition.

Read 6 Questions to Solidify Your Value Prop

5. What are the time issues the customer’s facing that could speed or delay them making a decision? 

Is their fiscal year coming up? 

Are there budgeting concerns? 

Are there other priorities that are occupying their time? 

6. Do we know with certainty how they make decisions and what their buying process looks like? 

That’s why I love to ask the question early on, “Hey, how have you gone through the process of making decisions like this in the past?” Or, “What’s the process you use to make decisions on big purchases like this?” 

You phrase it in your own words, but I want to ask that very early on. I want to understand if there are some hoops we have to go through so we know what their purchasing department expects, etc. 

There could be all kinds of different hoops that we have to go through. We better be prepared. 


7. Who are the people in the company who are working with us or against us? 

What’s our strategy for dealing with each one? 

In almost any complex sale, we’ll have people working with us—they want us—but we’ll also have people who are working against us because:

  •  they want a competitor
  • they want status quo
  • OR they want to go in a different direction. 

I better understand and find out who these people are. I need to have a strategy for dealing with each one because they will rise up at the end. They can shoot your deal down. 

If I’m prepared, I know how to handle it. 

8. Is their business and operating process one we can support both initially and long term?

If what you sell is a service that requires ongoing support, I have to understand their business and operating process. Can we support initially? 

Is this product or service going to be primarily used in South America where we have no representation? 

Is this going to be used primarily in an area of business that we need certification or security clearances for?

Or maybe they just have a business operating philosophy that doesn’t line up with ours long-term.

9. What is the long-term potential this customer offers us? (Both upsell and referrals.)

Am I going to get just one sale, or am I going to get this sale plus additional sales? 

Along with additional sales, they’re hopefully going to take us into other divisions, other operating companies, because they’re part of a larger holding company. 

What about referrals? There must be referrals they can provide us.

Lifetime value is going to help me determine how much time and effort I want to spend in trying to get this deal. 


How to Turn Rejection into Opportunity


Unlock the silver lining in every “no” and learn how to keep the sale alive. 


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Copyright 2024, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.

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