Opening is the new closing: 20 questions to establish your expertise at the start of a client meeting

28th Apr 2017

So you’ve set up a meeting with a new prospective client.

Before you get started, it is essential to set the stage for the interaction. Too many sales meetings meander aimlessly from the very start.

When you get this part right, you’ll be able to condition your prospect on what to expect not only during the meeting itself but also what to expect from you as well.

If you make a strong start to the meeting then everything you say and do from thereon in will be seen in this light. Similarly, if your opening bombs or is unclear then you’ll have an uphill battle for the rest of your interaction.

When setting the stage you must make sure the prospect is aware of what you are going to do, approximately how long it will take, what the final steps will be (if you will ask for a decision or set up another meeting) and what the follow up steps will be.

You need to set the stage and confirm that the prospect understands and agrees.

Here are 20 potential questions that you can ask. Modify them to fit your business, takes bits out and add others in to make them really fit with your personal style and what you are selling.

  1. “Well, thanks for seeing me today John. What I’d like to do is really get to understand the situation you’re in and understand your requirements and then I’ll be able to go away and put a proposal together for you along with the fees. Does that sound ok to you?”
  2. “Well, thanks for seeing me today John. What I’d like to do is really get to understand the situation you’re in and understand your requirements and then I’ll be able to see how we can help you. Does that sound ok to you?”
  3. “So, as I mentioned on the telephone, today’s meeting should only take about 30 minutes and what I will do is show you exactly how our software works and why it is so powerful. I will demonstrate how much time and money it can save your IT department. Then, if everything looks good to you, we’ll arrange a time for us to come back and install a trial version. How does that sound?”
  4. “What we will go over today is....does that sound acceptable?”
  5. “So today, I am going to .....and then I’ll be able to see which of our solutions is the best fit for you. Is that what you had in mind?”
  6. “Our objective this morning is to first perform a comprehensive examination of your network procedures. As I had mentioned in our last meeting, this will take about two hours. Then we will analyse the information for a few days and get back to you with our recommendation. Is that what you were expecting?”
  7. “Over the next 20 minutes or so, I’ll show you exactly how we are able to help your retail sales people close more sales. Then I’ll detail our pricing structure and see what you think...Ok?”
  8. “I am going to ask you a series of questions to see if I can determine the problem. Is that ok?”
  9. “In order to do this, I am going to have to ask you several questions and some may be a little sensitive. Is that ok with you?”
  10. “In our discovery meeting, we will get into a few rather touchy areas...will that be alright?”
  11. “This meeting will only last about an hour, as I mentioned. However, it is best if we are not interrupted. Can you see to that for us?”
  12. “We will need to tour the plant to see if the square footage is sufficient. Will we have access this afternoon?”
  13. “So, as I mentioned we will only need about a half hour today, but I will need both you and your wife to be present for the entire interview. Will she be with us for that time?”
  14. “So, today we will go over the entire plan and to do that we will need some accounting information as well as your head of I.T. Are they available?”
  15. “Our objective for today is to run a diagnostic of the system. Of course, you will have to shut down for a few hours as I had mentioned yesterday. Is that still going to be ok?”
  16. “No, it’s no problem that you were running a little late. However, we do need a full 45 minutes for me to accurately show you what we have. Do you still have that time available?”
  17. “As I mentioned, during this portion of the process, I will have to actually get a look at your books. Do I have your permission to do that?”
  18. “Ok, as planned, today we will test drive the system. I will need a temporary administrative-level password and security access. Do you have the authority to make that happen?”
  19. “As we always do after an installation, we talk to the employees to see how they feel about the new service. May we have permission to talk to your people?”
  20. “For my presentation, I will need a complete audio visual set up and a big screen, as well as a podium and a microphone. Can you set that up for us?”

If you’d like to receive even more questions to cover areas like fact-finding, qualification, understanding budget parameters, closing and so on, then I’ve created a list of 450 sales questions that you can use.


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