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The Best Sales Prospecting Qualification Questions to Ask

I recently read an article that touted what the “BEST SALES PROSPECTING QUALIFICATION QUESTIONS” were to ask. I was excited. I wanted to see what these “best questions” were. So I read. And then I was let down. Hard. Here’s why… At the top of the list, the very first “best” sales prospecting qualification question to ask was:

What challenges are you experiencing with your current process/technology?

Here’s why that’s not the “best” qualifying question to ask:

For starters, almost every sales person, no matter what they are selling, asks the “What challenges are you experiencing?” (or very similar) qualifying question.
Now put yourself in your prospects shoes for a moment. If you are a decision maker where you work, that means you are getting calls from tons of different salespeople in all different verticals every week.
And no matter what it is they are selling, they all start to sound the same to you. It won’t take long for prospects to tune out a salesperson that asks that question.
You, as a sales professional, want to separate yourself from the everyday average sales herd. You want to stand out from the pack. Be unique. Especially early on in the sales process.With that being said, let’s get one thing straight— The “What challenges are you experiencing with…” qualifying question is attempting to uncover a buying motive or what I like to call, get “problem recognition.”When a sales person asks “What challenges are you experiencing with…” they are hoping that the prospect will spill the beans on their biggest headaches and hand them their problems on a silver platter. And if you are in customer service, and you handle inbound calls from prospects that are wanting you to solve a problem for them, then by all means, ask the “What challenges are you experiencing with…” question.But the article said they were going to show the best “sales prospecting qualifying questions to ask” and if you are PROSPECTING, you aren’t in customer service and you aren’t sitting around waiting for inbound calls.You’re making outbound sales calls to prospects that, in most cases, weren’t expecting your call. And if you get past the opener (what you say after “Hello, my name is…”) and they are still on the phone, and you ask the “What challenges are you experiencing?” question, well, today’s prospects are going to get annoyed real fast with you.

It’s not your prospects job to educate you.

You should already know what challenges your target audience has to have in order for them to be a potential prospect.
Let me explain. Every business is only in business because they solve specific problems for certain audiences. You need to know what those most common or popular problems are, and also know what CAUSES those problems and THAT is where you will find your buying motive (problem recognition) question to ask.


When I’m speaking with a prospect, instead of asking “What challenges are you experiencing?” I’ll ask these questions:

  1. How often does your team get blocked by gatekeepers? (All day long!)
  2. What about voicemails… are they getting a fair amount of prospects to call them back? (No!)
  3. What about when they actually get a decision maker on the phone… do they hear “No, Thanks” / “Not Interested” / “We’re all set!” responses? (YES!!!)

We confirmed the challenges that they are having and my questions were unique to their situation. I didn’t sound like everyone else. And since those are the areas that I specialize in fixing, I know I can help them.
Once you’ve crystalized who your targeted audience is and what problems they have to have that would make them interested in your solutions, only then will you be able to come up with the right “buying motive” or “problem recognition” qualifying questions for your specific audience.
And guess what?! Your question will be unique, and specific to your targeted audience. It won’t sound like all the other sales calls your prospect gets all day long. And here’s the best part: when they answer it, it will be genuine and insightful.
Michael Pedone –
Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections. Get pricing here to have Michael teach your sales team his techniques!

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