If you are launching a new product or service or if you want to review sales and marketing tactics for an existing product or service then here are twenty probing questions to ask. They are intended to challenge conventional assumptions and to take you back to the basics of sales and marketing.

  1. How would you describe our product (or service) in one short sentence?
  2. What are the main features or attributes of the product?
  3. What benefits will users gain from each feature?
  4. What are the main applications of the product?
  5. How, when and where will it be used?
  6. What makes our product different from other similar products on the market?
  7. Who is the user who will use this product?
  8. What sort of need do they have? What problem does it solve for them?
  9. How will they feel when the problem is solved?
  10. Can you please describe the typical decision maker who will select this product? Age, gender, level of education etc.
  11. How technical are they?
  12. What is their job title?
  13. What sort of organization do they work for?
  14. What websites do they browse?
  15. What is their current level of awareness of our company and our product?
  16. If you had this person on the phone right now what three questions would you ask them?
  17. What objections might they raise? Why would they not buy our product?
  18. If the target buyer were searching for a solution to their problem how would they describe it? What words would they enter into Google?
  19. What three different but effective ways could we use to identify our target customer and get our message to them?
  20. What actions are we going to take as a result of these questions?

I recommend that you gather together a diverse group from different departments, with different backgrounds and job functions and go through the questions one at a time. Write up and discuss the answers.

Approach the whole session with an open mind. Consider that most of your previous assumptions about the product might be wrong. The process will take some time and might cause some controversy. It might well point out the need for more market research. It should certainly give you some great ideas to help, position, describe, market and sell the offering.