3 Standard Sales Questions That Are Now Obsolete

It’s the power of your questions not the strength of your answers that make a lasting impression on your prospect. If you ask a powerful enough question you don’t even need to get an answer to accomplish your goal on a sales call.

Here are three types of questions that are now obsolete.
Pick up any sales book or take any sales course and you will undoubtedly be told you need to ask one of these three types of questions:

  • General open ended questions to get the conversation started
    • “How well is your current system working?”
    • “What is your biggest problem with ___?”
  • Probing questions to get to the heart of the matter
    • “What’s is keeping you up at night?”
    • “What is the real issue?”
  • Leading questions so that you can direct the conversation.
    • “Are you having a problem with ____?”
    • How are you dealing with the new Federal regulation?”

Here is why they are obsolete…

Though they have been taught for decades, they are now very weak questions because:

  • Their intent is obvious…the prospect’s won’t go where you want them to.
  • They are self-serving … the prospect can see right through them … they will usually give evasive answers.
  • They can be intrusive … the prospect will deflect them or worse yet, lie.

Here’s what to do about it…

If you want to control the conversation, establish credibility and differentiate yourself, you must ask Powerful Questions that:

  • Reframe the problem
    • Was it just a mistake? Or is it your whole approach to the problem that is the issue?” Make the prospect think about a bigger issue than the one at hand.
  • Focus the conversation
    • “You have people. Why not do that task in-house?” The prospect now has to give you the real reason she would go outside or admit that she could use her own resources or both.
  • Make the prospect think
    • “Why hasn’t the current solution worked?” This challenges the prospect to admit the real problem which he may not have wanted to do.
  • Change the paradigm
    • “Why do you think hiring a salesperson now is the best way to grow sales”? Maybe it’s the price point, or maybe they should use a channel sales approach. In any case the conversation reaches a higher plane and you are seen as more of a consultant and problem solver than a salesperson.

Notice that each of the power questions make the prospect stop and think. They are not leading the prospect anywhere and there is no easy answer. The prospect cannot brush the question away with a glib or pat answer. It is my experience that you tell more about what you know by the questions you ask than by the statements you make.




Many people have difficulty asking tough questions. They have difficulty asking the type of question that reframes the problem or makes the prospect think. Watch this one minute video to understand why that is and what to do about it.

Just remember that it’s the questions you ask not the Answers you give that matter most to the prospect and it’s the questions not the Answers that differentiate you from your competition in the eyes of the prospect.

Are you strong enough to ask power questions? Download the list and find out.

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