During my fifteen year tenure as a sales trainer and sales motivation speaker, I have discovered that many sales people still ask weak, feeble sales questions. Questions that do little, or nothing, to move the sales conversation forward. Lame questions that fail to demonstrate their expertise. Weak questions that don’t uncover a prospect’s true buying motives.

Here are eleven feeble sales questions you need to avoid using.

1. “What do you know about us?”

It amazes me how many sales people think that this is a good question because when people say they don’t know anything about their company it gives them the chance to start telling them everything they do. Unfortunately, this usually causes them to start tuning you out and begin looking for an escape route.

2. “Are you the decision maker?”

Although there is nothing technically wrong with this question, it usually results in a ‘yes’ response and in many cases, that person is NOT actually the individual who has final say on the decision. It is much more effective to ask, “Who else do you normally consult with on decisions of this nature?”

3. “What are your needs?”

Using this question automatically turns you into an order-taker, not a sales-maker. It is actually one of the worst questions you can ask because it is unimaginative and does absolutely nothing to demonstrate your expertise in your industry.

4. “Do you want this feature?”

You might be familiar with the features of all of your products but it’s doubtful that your customers are. A better way to phrase this is to ask, “What were you looking for?” or “What do you want this product to do?”

5. “Do you want to save…

(insert money, time, or other lame benefit)?”
Often referred to as a ‘tie-down’ question, it is a pathetic attempt to get the other person to say, ‘yes’. But, decision makers aren’t stupid and using this question is a quick way to be shown the door.

6. “What is your budget?”

Many people haven’t established a budget or don’t know what to budget for a particular purchase. Do them and yourself a favor and focusing on exploring their problems and presenting a solution that addresses those issues. Budget will become less of a concern.

7. “Can you give me a referral?”

You need to avoid asking this question because it is too generic. If you want a referral you need to be specific and help your customer understand who would make a good referral. Saying “anyone” is NOT an effective reply; you need to help the other person understand what a good referral looks like.

8. “Are you ready to buy?”

Many sales people use this as a trial close or to separate tire kickers from qualified buyers. However, it is old-school, outdated, and tired. There are much more effective ways of finding out this information without using this question.

9. “If I could show you (insert something like how my product will benefit you) will you buy?”

This is similar to the question pointed out earlier (see point 5).

10. “Who else should I talk to in the company?”

There is actually nothing with this question. However, it’s the timing that matter. Many sales people are taught to ask for introductions before they close any deal. However, if you do this too soon, you run the risk of alienating your contact. But, if you help them solve a problem, they will be more than willing to introduce you to another department or division.

11. “Do you want to make more money, gain new clients, increase your sales, etc?”

See response for point five above.

I trust that YOU don’t ask these weak, feeble, lame questions. If you happen to work with people who do, print this post and place it on their desk. Maybe they’ll get the hint.