Asking Questions

By Mike Philie
In November 4, 2010

Your goal in asking questions to a prospect is to discover what areas you can provide value, determine if you can help them be more efficient in their use of print and if you can help them achieve their goals and objectives. You should try to determine what kind of fit there is as compared to your more successful client relationships. Finally, your questions should always be leading you to the next step of strengthening the relationship and positioning yourself as the supplier they should be working with.

A combination of what you ask and how you ask will determine your ability to gather information and assess the opportunity with a prospect or client. You must first ask yourself if your goal is to sell the next job or create a new account.

Ask the questions that will help you confirm your research and identify and articulate the opportunity.

  • What are their needs: Today? In the future? How can you contribute?
  • Is there something that they’d like to be doing but either don’t have the resources or knowledgebase to move forward?
  • What are they trying to accomplish through print and print related services? Why are they buying these products?

Confirm your understanding of their business.

  • How do they go to market?
  • What are their market conditions like?
  • Their competition?
  • Their position in the market?
  • Industry trends, threats?
  • Why do their clients buy from them?

How do they define a successful relationship? What are the critical success factors for anyone to rise to trusted supplier status?

  • What are their expectations throughout the process?
  • What don’t they like?

Ask the questions that show you have done your homework, deserve an opportunity for a 2nd appointment and can move this opportunity through your sales process.

General Guidelines to Consider

1. You are there to determine their needs.

2. You need to uncover and confirm the opportunity.

3. Determine how to get to the next step in the process.

4. Remember, uncover the issues before you provide a solution.

5. Focus on open, non-threatening questions.

6. Prepare your questions in advance and take good notes while the other person is speaking.


What are your top three questions that you like to use with a new opportunity?








Mike Philie

Mike works with printing companies that are not satisfied with their sales and business development performance, and are looking to get objective advice and strategic direction on how to improve the results of their business. His engagements can range from providing input on the overall sales strategy to building business development pipelines while training the processes of “selling” in today’s marketplace. Mike quickly establishes himself as a trusted resource and advisor to the owners and senior staff of his client companies through his personal involvement, and very quietly and effectively becomes an extension of their staff.

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