Why is “What” the most important word in sales?

By Erik Meier
Guest columnist

When a prospect expresses interest in your product or service, “What” plays a pivotal role in developing the potential opportunity.  Why?  Because asking “What” questions in the early stages of the selling cycle helps you obtain the information needed to understand the nature and scope of the opportunity.  And, in the later stages, “What” questions help you determine if your product or service represents the best fit for the defined opportunity.

Let’s examine some of the “What” questions to which you’ll need answers as you work toward defining the opportunity. 

  • What does the prospect want?
  • What does the prospect need?
  • What triggered the need or desire?

As the scope of the opportunity begins to take shape, you need answers to “What” questions to get a sense of the prospect’s commitment to move forward with a purchase.

  • What, if anything, has the prospect done to try and satisfy the need or desire?
  • What level of urgency has the prospect assigned to satisfying their issue?
  • What are the prospects expectations regarding the investment necessary to fulfill the need?

When you’ve fully defined the want and need of a prospect, its time to ask additional “What” questions before presenting and closing.

  • What would cause the prospect to award the sale to one company over another?
  • What additional benefits accrue to the prospect by doing business with you?
  • What value does the prospect place on those benefits?

When you have all the answers to the “What” questions, you’ll know whether the opportunity is one you can win, and how to win it.  Contact me to learn more about “What” questions you should be asking to close more business.  What could be more important then that?

Erik is the CEO of the EAM Consulting Group in Troy.   He trains, coaches and consults as an authorized licensee of Sandler Training,  a world leader in innovative sales and sales management training.

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