Jill Konrath


Jill's Jottings: Fresh Sales Strategies 

Get More Free Sales Resources

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

[Video] 3 Critical Questions You Must Ask Every Hot Prospect


Have you ever been called in by a prospect who's all excited about making a change? They're busy meeting with vendors, looking at all their options. And, they want you to get a proposal to them right away  -- or to do a presentation.

Stop, stop, stop! If you don't fully understand the 'why' behind all this activity, you may be spinning your wheels for nothing.

1.  Ask them, "Why, at this particular moment in time, did you decide that change was essential?" Find out what they say. Does it make sense?

2.  Ask them again, "What's the business case for the change?" If your solution costs a lot or is tough to implement, they need to have a pretty strong business case. Do they? If not, showing your solution is premature.

3.  Also ask them, "Why would you switch from your current provider?" I know that sounds bold – but the truth is, no one really wants to switch. Unless they have a good reason you may be wasting your time.

Don't be afraid to find out what's behind all this activity. Sometimes the truth hurts and they're not really a hot prospect. But you'll know before you invest tons of time. And, so it's worth it. 3 Critical Questions You Must Ask Every Hot Prospect

YOUR TURN: Have you ever jumped through hoops for a really hot prospect for nothing?  What did you learn?  Share your comments!

Jill KonrathJill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist. As author of two bestselling books, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, she's a frequent speaker at sales meetings and conferences. For more fresh ideas, download her free Prospecting Toolkit.


You nailed it. In our excitement to get the deal we react without thinking and later wonder why given all our effort we didn't get the deal. It's difficult to hit the target when our plan is, "Ready, Fire, Aim".
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:22 AM by Bill Evatte
Great questions. For maximum impact I'd reorder them as follows: #1: Why now? #2: Why switch? #3: Financial reasons? It's better to go from more abstract (non-threathening) to more challenging (like financial reasons). In asking sales questions order is critical.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:36 AM by Alexander Fürstenberg
In you scenario Jill, where they openly admit to looking at others, the first red flag should be, "Am I column fodder? The second red flag when you get called late in their game is the lowest bidder probably will get the business. Don't walk. Run from this suspect.  
That said, your three questions should apply to all first calls, not just the suspect who is excited and in a hurry.  
Great post Jill
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:04 AM by David DeVelder
YES!, be the challenger rep and challenge the prospect to understand the answers themselves...many times, your stakeholder may not even have these answers at hand. 
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:32 AM by jamie corn
I am a Loan officer and I have always asked the suspect why or what happened to the earlier loan officer? Why did you decide to not work with the other person or are you looking for other opinions?
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:57 AM by Ron Aguilar
Please subscribe me
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:58 AM by Susan Toussaint
Ah, patience is a virtue... and having the confidence in yourself to sit back and ask good questions before jumping in head first. Thanks, Jill.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 8:15 AM by Babette Ten Haken
Touché. Probing with these questions will not only qualify the prospect but should earn you some respect by showing you have ingetrity.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 8:28 AM by Ted Hettick
Find the pain point first, offer the solution next.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 8:56 AM by Tom Cosgrove
I think these are important questions Jill. And they will come up ORGANICALLY if the saleperson is other-centered. The biggest problem with salesmen and women is that we are most interested in OUR NUMBERS - Not the customers real needs. If we would just change our focus to being what is best for the customer . . . then we will not be over-eager - and oddly enough, we'll sell a lot more than people who set out to sell the most FOR THEM. Remember Zig Ziglar - "You can have ANYTHING YOU WANT, if you'll just help enough other people get what THEY want"
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:12 AM by Jimmy
Do you think this video is useful? I hadn't considered asking a prospect why they wanted to change vendors.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 10:53 AM by Jeff Parr
One again...there is "the father, son, holy spirit, and Jill Konrath.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 11:41 AM by Bill hurley
You are 100% on the Money!!  
The concept of "Fools Rush In" is extremely prevalent in the Sales Industry which is why we get this question/request in the first place.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 11:43 AM by Kevin Mullenex
Great post Jill-- one that could have saved me a lot of time if I'd seen it years ago. 
This may be a bit OT, but does anyone here have advice on HOW you communicate "Sorry- I'm going to pass" ? 
I can't afford to work with everyone...but I don't want to come off arrogant, and close door on future relationship. 
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:08 PM by Joe
Amen! I'd advise even though we should find out the WHY's, we avoid using the word 'why?" "What is the reason ...?" seems to encourage better openness and more honest responses.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:12 PM by Rolene
Great questions. I keep a library of quality/fact finding questions for interviewing prospects in the selling process. These will certainly be added to my list.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:33 PM by Tim Moriarty
Excellent reminder of three key questions in the early stages of a client relationship! Thanks!
Posted @ Wednesday, February 01, 2012 6:10 AM by Lilian Eilers
Perfect 10!
Posted @ Wednesday, February 01, 2012 8:10 AM by Animesh
Right on the money Jill. You know what you are talking about!
Posted @ Wednesday, February 01, 2012 12:42 PM by Mary Elizabeth
Yes Jill, these 3 questions might definatly be a timesaver from prospects that are wasting our time. But do we dare to ask them, that is the question.... ;) 
Posted @ Thursday, February 02, 2012 3:29 PM by Einar
Never Put a Beverage on Top of The System You are Demoing 
I was selling NBI Word Processing and i was presenting to a major computer manufacturer, Sperry. I was doing really well and was feeling really confident so I guess I wasn't paying enough attention so I put my glass of OJ on top of the system. Of course, I accidentally knocked it over and it spilled into the system and knocked out the power. No more demo. Very embarrassing, but, I got another chance and sold them A LOT OF STUFF.
Posted @ Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:21 PM by Jonathan London
These are very good questions, but if you have to explicitly ask these three questions, then you may be late at the game. Or, perhaps the sale is not very complex, where there is not much an opportunity to differentiate yourself.  
Posted @ Thursday, May 03, 2012 7:30 AM by Jay
This is a good point when prospecting and there is not a RFP in progress. What would you suggest to go further when there is a RFP with an incumbent, and price is one of the KPIs?.  
Thank you
Posted @ Thursday, May 03, 2012 11:53 AM by Jorge Saldarriaga
Love having a transcript below the video. By reading whilst listening I can absorb and retain the information much quicker.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 26, 2012 9:16 AM by Rena
Sales has their time and interest at stake so why not be clear upfront with an agreement on how to proceed. We don't like to spill our candy in the lobby before we get in the theater so ask your customer "why' the need now so all can win. Great post Jill.
Posted @ Sunday, August 05, 2012 3:01 PM by Curt Johnson
The Column Fodder scenario is most likely with what you describe. I have asked the question - "are you needing a 3rd bid for your buying process?" If timed correctly this question gets a very frank answer and has saved me time and energy. It even has gotten me feedback on the why they are going with other vendors for my future competition against them.
Posted @ Friday, November 30, 2012 9:48 AM by Paul Sliz
Great list of questions and in my next sales call i will definitely asking these questions to y prospect. Thanks for sharing for this wonderful set of questions.
Posted @ Monday, March 11, 2013 4:46 AM by Vinish Parikh
I see the logic - "get them to sell themselves" on their need and urgency when you are the one they are talking to. Then address the hottest buttons as they define them. Thanks Jill.
Posted @ Wednesday, April 10, 2013 11:10 AM by Mike O'Neil
Great reminders. Thanks
Posted @ Friday, July 26, 2013 9:25 PM by adam brien
"Column Fodder" is what goes thru my mind when I'm in this situation. Usually they have column A as their preferred solution. Now they've got to get two more to satisfy a due diligence paradigm. Guess who is the lucky one to fill column C?
Posted @ Saturday, July 27, 2013 10:11 AM by David DeVelder
Post Comment
Website (optional)

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics