Chill Strategic Partners | Why Sales People Don’t Ask
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Why Sales People Don’t Ask

Why Sales People Don’t Ask

Don’t Let These 7 Reasons Impact How You Interact With Your Prospects


In leading business development teams and working with clients I have observed a tendency for sales people to avoid asking prospects certain questions. This tendency stems from a number of places.  And in each case it can prevent the desired result – the sale. Here are 7 reasons why we don’t ask and how it can hold us back:


Think we should know the answer

We want to appear knowledgeable so we avoid asking questions out of fear that we will look stupid. However, often the questions that need to be asked are to gain information that only the prospect would know, such as the strategic goals for the business or the technology budget for the next year. How could we know this information?  By asking questions we become educated about our prospects and can better serve them.

Don’t want to make the other person uncomfortable  

If we are asking a reasonable question than it is perfectly okay to inquire.  For example, asking a prospect to clearly describe the purchase decision-making process within the organization is a critical inquiry to make.  Without such information we cannot properly navigate the sales process and make both parties successful along the way. Such questions may seem invasive, but they are necessary, and our prospect will respect and appreciate us for asking them.

Prefer to speculate

Sometimes we simply prefer to speculate.  Perhaps this stems out of discomfort in asking a question.  This is a recipe for disaster. Speculation = Assumption = Problem.  Asking leads to gaining information, which avoids assumptions and the ensuing problems.

Think selling is only about telling vs. also listening

In a sales situation we must inform the prospect about the value of our solution.  However, in order to ensure this value aligns directly to what matters most to our prospect we must ask questions.  By talking without questioning we will lack an understanding of what is important, and without this understanding we risk misalignment and losing the sale.

Don’t want to hear the answer

We may want to avoid an answer we don’t like.  However, we are missing an opportunity to address and overcome a potential issue.  For example, prospects don’t always volunteer reasons they may be hesitant to buy our solution.  By making inquiries we can learn about a prospect’s concerns and address them before they become insurmountable.

Don’t want to create an issue

We may not ask a question because we fear we will call attention to something we are hoping the prospect will miss.  This may seem like a good strategy at the time, but it is highly likely the prospect will ultimately discover the issue, and it will then be much harder to address the problem vs. having identified and addressed it early on.  

Doesn’t occur to us

Believe it or not, this can be a very common reason for not asking a question. If we have not developed a habit and comfort with asking questions it is easy to fall back into telling mode.  In each sales interaction it’s important to weigh how much information we are conveying and how much information we are gaining.

We must embrace the art of asking questions.  Through a genuine desire to seek to understand, we can be much more successful in reaching our goal – to win the deal.


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