If you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, executive, business development or sales professional, you’ve probably had your share of sales conversations. Or maybe you haven’t.

Perhaps you’re new to one of those roles. Maybe you have the luxury of having a sales team to do the selling for you. Or perhaps you keep preparing and positioning yourself to have those very important sales conversations. You know…the conversations that tend to lead to…sales.

As a former account executive, sales representative (this pretty early on in my career), and now full-time business owner, I can honestly say I’ve seen my share of both great and terrible sales presentations.

I’ve had countless one-on-one sales conversations (including what is often referred to in the coaching world as “discovery” or “strategy” sessions), along with presenting to a number of groups.

As someone who has not always been comfortable with sales, I can honestly say I pretty much ROCK at it now! My conversion ratio is 50-60%. In the sales world, that’s pretty darn good.

So you see I’ve learned a thing or two about how an effective, sales conversation that leads to conversion should go. Here are five questions you definitely need to be asking to close the deal. I wrote a song about it. Want to hear it? Here it goes.

Ok, I didn’t really write a song, but here are the questions:

    1. How long have you had this problem/challenge? This assumes you ask the obvious question to find out what is their biggest problem/challenge as it relates to your offering. What many sales people, etc fail to find out is how long the prospect has had this problem. That’s super important. Want to increase the sense of urgency? Want to hit someone’s pain point? Remind them they’ve had a crappy website, been 50 lbs over weight, or woefully unprepared for retirement for the last year, or longer. Ask them how long and make sure you get an answer. If it hasn’t been long, see the next question.

    2. How much longer do you plan to deal with this? This is something else brilliant that is not asked nearly enough. Even if your prospect has only had their problem for 90 days, if it’s serious enough, it’s not likely they want to deal with it for 90 more days. Or 180 more days. This whole concept of pointing out time can be powerful. Time is more valuable than money and cannot be replaced. Most people, especially high achievers and action takers (often one and the same), hate wasting time. Many also have more money than time, so are willing to pay for the solution they need sooner rather than later.

    3. How much do you think this problem is costing you? This is a question you should be able to answer if they don’t know the answer. This is why it’s ideal to have done some research before talking to your prospect. You should already know (or have a good idea) of their problem and what it’s costing. Sometimes your prospect really does not know (which can be great for you). Other times, they know and don’t want to face it. Get them to face it! Tap into those pain points baby! Typically the problem is costing, or will cost them a lot more than your solution. Especially when we’re talking services. Based on how long they’ve had the problem and how much longer they’re willing to have it, come up with an approximate cost – annually or monthly. Don’t forget to translate the cost into time as applicable.

    4. What does success look like for you? Other versions of this question include, “how would your business/life change if you could fix this” and “if you could wave a magic wand, what would you have happen.” These questions allow you to tap into their pleasure. You’ve dealt with the pain. Then you need to show them the pleasure. You didn’t think you just leave them on Pain Island all alone did you? No! You begin to bring them over to Fantasy Island, except it’s not fantasy. With your product/service all that pleasure can become a reality. You need to allow them to really paint this picture. Hint: not a good time to interrupt (unless they go on and on and it gets weird).

    5. How did you come to have this conversation with me? This question may or may not be necessary. If you’re dealing with an existing client or someone else you already have a relationship with, you probably already know the answer. Although, it does not work to reiterate this with the client. If this is a new prospect, it’s important to get this info. Did they just come to you randomly? Or have they heard great things and wanted to check you out? Ideally, it’s the latter. You developing credibility with someone prior to them doing business with you is huge. A referral from a trusted source can be huge. Find out how is it you came to be having this conversation, other than Mr. or Ms. Prospect having a problem. Why did she come to you?

If you want more epic ways for closing sales, particularly handling a common objection, grab your COMPLIMENTARY audio training, “5 BOSS Ways to Handle the ‘I Cannot Afford It’ Objection here. Unless you’ve never heard “I cannot afford it” from a single prospect.

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©2017 by Rachel Wilson Thibodeaux. All Rights Reserved. Rachel Wilson Thibodeaux, also known online as the SWAG Strategist, is an award-winning speaker, brand and business strategist, best-selling author, and founder/CEO of SWAG Strategy Solutions (SWAG -Strategic Women Achieve Growth). She is also the creator of the Brand. Sell. Profit.™ system. She works with her clients to get them more clear, more strategic, and more profitable, particularly as it relates to both their brand and marketing strategy. Her Brand. Sell. Profit.™ system is for those who want an unforgettable brand, to sell like a winner, and profit more consistently. Rachel is also a LinkedIn authority, teaching and consulting others on the best ways to maximize this powerful platform. Catch Rachel’s content-rich live streams on the #Periscope app @RachelSWAGStrategist as well as inside her private #Facebook group, Brand Sell Profit. Connect with her here on LinkedIn. For more information and FREE resources, visit her website at www.swagstrategy.com