Sales: 25 questions to ask to identify potential deal breakers

31st Jan 2017

No matter how much the prospect may want your product or service, there might be circumstances, events or even people that might get in the way of the deal. As a sales person you need to get these issues out in the open so you can deal with them effectively.

Internal politics, legacy systems, staff buy-in and attitudes towards change can all get in the way of a purchasing decision. Their answers will often tell you all of the indirect reasons why they may not go ahead so make sure you understand them.

If these issues do not surface then you may find that the prospect will hide behind a timing or price objection when really it’s something completely different.

So, how can you unearth these possible issues and barriers? Here are 25 questions to help you achieve just that. Remember, adapt them to what you sell and your own circumstances.

  1. “What obstacles do you see that would prevent this purchase/deal/project from going forward?”
  2. “Is there anything we haven’t discussed which could get in the way?”
  3. “In the past, what has occurred to derail potential projects like this?”
  4. “What do you estimate the probability is of this going ahead?”
  5. “Have I covered everything you need to know? What, if anything, do you additionally need to hear from me?”
  6. “Is there anything happening in the company at the moment that might jeopardise this?”
  7. “What are your thoughts so far?”
  8. “Do you have any concerns at this stage?”
  9. “What are the restrictions on this project, from your side?”
  10. “Does what I’ve said sound like what you have in mind?”
  11. “Are there any issues that must be addressed first in order to seriously consider fixing this problem?”
  12. “Are there any internal political issues that must be addressed before you decide to change?”
  13. “What’s your organisation’s attitude toward change?”
  14. “Are there any competing projects that could take priority over this?”
  15. “What has to be in place for this deal to go down smoothly?”
  16. “Assuming you make a change, what concerns would you have about the implementation step?”
  17. “For all the good you are trying to achieve, do you see any unavoidable negative consequences?”
  18. “Are there any issues concerning your current supplier/situation/vendor that I need to know about that may derail us moving forward?”
  19. “Are there any personal issues with the current vendor/supplier that may cause us a problem? Relatives, long time friendships, etc.?”
  20. “Are there any future plans that may affect the project such as mergers, acquisitions, public offerings, etc?”
  21. “How long have you been working with that vendor?”
  22. “Do they still treat you that way they did when you were a new account?”
  23.  “This upgrade is going to eliminate a lot of overtime hours for a lot of people. Do you think that may cause a problem?”
  24. “Our installed software is so efficient, it could possibly eliminate a job position or two. Is that going to be a problem?”
  25. “Some people see advances like this as a threat. Do you have anyone like that in your department?”

Objections can come in all shapes, sizes and guises. Sometimes they are not objections at all but a stall because of the internal resistance, issues or barriers that the company is facing with this purchase or change.

By asking these questions you’ll get a better understanding of any possible threats to the deal and can then take action accordingly.

After all, it’s better the devil you know!

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