quota What’s your question quota?Summary: In sales you don’t have 20 questions – so how do you decide? Tips for better questioning.

Every sales person has them. Call them quotas, plan, metrics – it’s the numbers you have to hit as a sales person. It’s part of the job – “carrying the bag” in the parlance of field sales people. While you’re thinking about your close ratio, number of calls made, and revenue produced, let’s add one more number to your quota.

What’s your question quota?

It’s a question that I ask sales people frequently. In our current business climate, your prospects don’t have less time to meet than they used to. Their schedule is chock full of meetings, customer issues and fires to be put out. They don’t have time available to have an in-depth conversation and for you to spend a lot of time asking 20 questions to figure out their needs and

You need a question strategy. This is where call planning comes in. As I tell reps, the value is in the planning, not in the plan. You need to think through the following:

What’s the valid business reason? Why would this prospect (from his or her point of view) want to talk to you? What is compelling right now to the customer?

What are the essential questions you need answered in order to make this sale? What are the gaps in your knowledge you need to close to help the customer make an informed decision regarding your product or service?

What is the greatest number of questions your prospect will take from you? When I ask most sales people this question, they have a number in mind based on their experience of selling prospects. It’s a good question to ask in the current selling climate.

Planning your questioning strategy in advance will help you be prepared and make efficient use of your time and the customer’s.