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3 Questions You Hate, But Have To Ask As An Inside Sales Rep


Asking a random girl out is a tough assignment. This tortured me in high school. “Ok, just say hi, make some light conversation and then ask for her number”. This philosophy led to a smattering of false numbers mixed in with a couple of girls that said they had boyfriends, a couple of girls that were interested in one of my friends and every now and again I would land a date out of it. My main problem was that I went straight for the phone number without any qualification. EG: “Do you currently have a boyfriend and if yes can he beat me up? Physically speaking…are you attracted to me? How do feel about guys with quick quit, but no athletic ability?” and so on and so forth. Had I asked those questions, I could have eliminated a lot of people that were never really options and focused on the ones I had chance with.

A lot of inside sales reps treat business development the same way. Get in, get the permission to call and get out. This leads to an excellent lead volume, but an awful lead to close ratio and a sales team that will steadily lose confidence in the leads coming from your internal efforts. A high volume of bad leads does not produce more business. It produces more work for maybe the same amount of business if you are lucky. Here are a few questions that your inside sales reps don’t want to ask, but absolutely should.

Do you have budget? The budget question takes a lot of moxie to get through, but it means the world to a sales rep if you can gather some real information about your prospect’s budget. If you’re feeling extra gutsy, you can take this a step further and ask how much is budgeted. Why is this important? People like cool new things. They ask questions about new things, they want to demo new things, they let you take them out to dinner to hear about new things. All that being said, though a lot of people like new things a very small percentage of them actually have the money to buy new things. A sales rep should know up front if the prospect has a budgeted line item. Not having a line item for a new solution doesn’t mean that the sales rep won’t take the call, but it changes the nature of the call from a pitch to a justification.

Are you the decision maker? Here are some common answers to be on the lookout for. “I’m part of team that decides on this. I’m spearheading this initiative for my…. I have to run this through a few other people, but it’s pretty much my decision”. Those are all code for, “I am not the decision maker. Why is this important? It is hard enough to gain the trust of decision makers to the point where they will purchase from you. It is 10x harder to have conversations with someone that isn’t the decision maker and train them up enough to pitch your solution to the actual decision maker. A sales person is likely to close about 30% of the leads that they have on their forecast. That number drops greatly when you aren’t talking to the right person. I would argue that you shouldn’t even forecast an opportunity until you have the ear of the decision maker. As with the budget question, not having the decision maker doesn’t mean that sales won’t take the call. It just changes the focus of the call from a sales pitch to a pitch to escalate.

What have you been doing thus far and why isn’t it working for you? If you are talking to the decision maker, there is a chance that he or she made the decisions that brought in the current solutions that don’t work. This question is basically asking about the bad decisions they made in the past. Now you could get lucky and find someone that just needs something new because the old solution is outdated. You could also meet someone that came into a new role and hated the current solution. Often times this isn’t the case. Why is this Important? Knowing what the prospect’s current pain points are shapes the conversation of the sales rep. We have a lot of different solutions and I don’t want to waste time talking about solution A if my prospect could really only be helped by solution B. A sales rep wants to maximize every minute that he/she has when engaging with a project. Give us the right thing to focus on and we’re a lot more successful.

So there you have it. Those 3 questions will uncover rude answers, bad attitudes and may get you hung up on. That being said, they will also help lead you to more closed business than you could imagine.


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