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Are you asking prospects this lazy question? (And two questions to ask instead)

When we first enter the working world, we hear a question thrown around that seems to be the holy grail of sales conversations. Unfortunately it’s a terrible question (and here’s a secret: your clients hate it too).

You’ve likely heard it before. You may have even asked it before.

“What keeps you up at night?”

Starting today, let's just put this in "talking jail", shall we? Here's why.

What it says to your client

When you ask “what keeps you up at night?” here’s what you’re saying to the client:

    “Please distill all of the challenges in your business into one issue that I can use as the lynchpin to sell more stuff to you. Make it easy for me, because I don’t want to take the time -- or I don’t know how to -- uncover it myself. I don’t want a conversation. I want you to tell me.”

It ignores all nuance and complexity in their business. And it doesn’t respect your client.

Ask a lazy question, get a lazy answer

When you ask lazy questions, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

You’re saying, “make it easy for me,” so naturally your client is going to give you the answer that’s easiest to give. But it probably won’t help you uncover the real value that they’re looking for in their business.

Two questions to ask instead

Instead of “what keeps you up at night?”, try these two questions that will spark a better conversation:

What difference will this project make for the organization/your clients/your employees?

What if you did nothing? What would be the impact?

These conversation starters will yield much more thoughtful responses and a better conversation.

Even more important than questions

There’s one thing even more useful than question prompts above:


Listen without thinking about how you’ll mention your services.

Listen without mentally preparing a response.

Listen to really hear what they’re saying, and what’s at the root of it.

Listen and probe as to what’s driving them.

With a few question prompts, and the patience to listen, you’ll be able to really hear your clients and what they need for themselves, their team and their company.


One more thing...

Want to learn how to consistently sell to -- and SIGN -- new clients? Get a copy of my FREE guideThe 3 Steps To Consistently Sign More Clients This Year! You'll learn the 3 steps that helped me sign every single client, and how I overcame my fear of selling.

Photo credit: Alessandro Valli

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