Management guru Peter Drucker famously noted that in order to get the right answers, it is first necessary to ask the right questions. Whether the subject is love or money, many of us do not ask direct clarifying questions because we are afraid of the answer. It takes courage, sometimes, to hear the truth. But in the end, only the truth is useful.
I recently found this list of sales call questions and they are a little scary because they cut right to the heart of a prospect’s motive and let you know what is real and what is not. I vow to pose these questions in my next sales call because it is far better to know what I’m dealing with. Time is much too valuable to waste trying to wrestle an assignment out of a prospect who does not have the means or real motive to hire me. Write these down and post them at eye level:
1. In terms of time, money and/or risk, what business problem will working with me solve for your organization?
You’ll learn the reason the project is out for hire and assess your ability to do the job. You’ll learn whether or not there really is a project, or if the prospect is merely checking out available talent. Maybe the prospect only wants to compare the Freelancer they usually use to who else is out there? If there is not a genuine problem to resolve with a timeline and budget attached, then your prospect is only window-shopping and there is no contract here.
2. How will you measure success 60 days after we begin working together?
The answer clarifies the goals and objectives you must meet if you win the assignment and also identifies the metrics that will be used to measure your progress as you work. You’ll confirm that milestones and metrics have been set for the project and that it is real. The prospect’s seriousness and sincerity (or lack thereof) will be demonstrated in the response. You will understand how you will approach the project and reconfirm whether you can meet expectations.
3. How much better does my “better” have to be for you to bring me in on this project?
The prospect’s answer will reveal if he/she knows what they’re looking for in terms of whom to hire as a Freelancer. Are the expectations reasonable in your opinion and do you have the wherewithal to meet them? Might you have to call in a subcontractor to meet a special demand or timeline? You can assess the level of interest in your services and determine if you are a contender or merely filling out a list that must contain a certain number of names.
4. How soon do you need to see progress or improvement for you to know that you’ve made the right decision in hiring me for the project?
Once again, the prospect will show that he/she has thought things through, has established clear and reasonable goals, objectives, timeline and metrics and recognizes success. You’ll have another means to confirm that the project is real and there is something for you to pursue.
5. What process will you follow in bringing me on as a provider of this service?
Process questions reveal how far ahead your prospect is thinking. This question will demand that the prospect envision hiring you and think through what must be done to bring you on. What budget is available and who else must sign off on your hire? If your prospect has only a fuzzy answer to this question, then he/she may not have the authority to hire you.
Thanks for reading,