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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

The Importance of Asking Quality Questions in B2B Sales

What If Someone Asked YOU Those Questions The other day at a doctor’s appointment, I answered a series of questions asked by the physician’s assistant. Minutes later the doctor came in and asked me the same questions. Has that ever happened to you? How did it make you feel? 

While it was irritating that the doctor was asking for information she had access to, it also caused me to reflect on the type of questions we ask our prospects and the questions I would expect to be asked if I was a prospect.

Are you asking the kind of questions you would expect to be asked? Are you asking the kind of questions that would make you give deeper thought if it were your business? 

Even for the most seasoned salesperson, being highly prepared for the initial needs analysis is something that can easily be overlooked.

Something you can start doing today is  “The 5-Phase Hourglass Needs Analysis” for every new business call and with your existing clients that you are trying to grow. 

Phase 1: Build Rapport

  • Make a personal connection, give a quick overview of the agenda and ask some easy-to-answer needs analysis questions.

Phase 2: Discover Their Needs

  • Now it’s showtime! Probe for a broad range of potential needs, problems, challenges, and opportunities, some of which could turn into good Assignments. Spend quality time prior to your meeting (don’t do this the day of the meeting!) preparing questions and gaining knowledge of their business and industry. This highly critical phase will not only provide a path for your client, but it will also help cement your credibility.

 Phase 3: Get an Assignment

  • Summarize the needs and ask the prospect to prioritize them.
  • Focus on the most important one you have the capabilities to address.
  • Agree on one (or more!) Assignments. This is something the prospect wants help with and wants to work shoulder-to-shoulder with you.

Phase 4: Analyze the Assignment

  • Open up the questioning again to get in-depth information about the Assignment(s) uncovered with questions such as:
         What makes this need important?
         What has prompted it to go to the top of your priority list?
         What are some of the things you would need to see in the ideal 

Phase 5: Contract Next Steps

  • Agree on the next steps which include your tasks AND at least one for your client.

So, for your next needs analysis meeting, how are you going to prepare? Don’t be that doctor. Think about what you would expect if you were the prospect and prepare accordingly.

Improve your needs analysis calls. Learn more about how you can help your clients and prospects when you use the Hourglass Needs Analysis!


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Topics: Needs Analysis sales performance Sales