Questions are powerful sales tools. They can help lead the prospect to talk about their concerns and goals, and they can bring to light any concerns or objections. This helps you understand the buyer’s world and how you can help them.

Sales questions can also help you determine if your product or service is the best solution for the prospect. Not every lead is a good fit, and by asking the right questions, you can discern whether your offering aligns with the potential buyer’s needs.

Some sales questions, though, are overused and won’t help you engage in a productive conversation. Paul Petrone, the editor for the LinkedIn Sales Blog, says there are two sales questions in particular that sales professionals should avoid. We share his thoughts in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today. Read on for the two questions to stop asking and suggestions on what to ask instead.

  1. “If I could show you a way to improve your business, would you be interested?” Before you ask a prospect this question, consider if you would like a salesperson to pose the same question to you. Probably not. Petrone says it reeks of a salesperson just trying to trick someone into buying their product or service. Remember that you’re trying to build trust with prospective buyers—not trick them into signing a sales contract.

    A better approach: Instead of making the vague offering to improve someone’s business, ask some discovery questions to learn more about the prospect’s current situation. For example, if you know they’re planning a corporate retreat and they’re looking for ways to engage staff, talk to them about how you have helped businesses like them achieve success. When the prospect can see how you have helped others in similar situations, they are more likely to listen, and you have a better chance of continuing the conversation.

  2. “What keeps you up at night?” Most salespeople have probably posed this question more times than they’d like to admit. This is one of those questions that comes across like you are trying to come up with an interesting, thought-provoking question, Petrone says. However, it’s not original and it likely won’t lead to a good response that will keep the discussion moving forward.

    A better approach: Ask just about any other question, Petrone says. Use your time with the prospect to ask questions specific to their industry. Always ask follow-up questions to show that you are actively listening and to clarify any points you may not fully understand. Then, if your solution feels like a fit, you can explain how you could help the prospect. If your offering isn’t a good fit at the moment, be upfront about it. If you want to connect with someone, be human. Avoid asking the robotic sales questions that won’t lead to anything meaningful.

Asking powerful sales questions is a valuable skill that can set you up for success. If you typically ask the two questions above, try refreshing them with the alternative suggestions. These sales questions will get your prospects talking and allow you to more efficiently qualify your leads.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Paul Petrone is the editor for the LinkedIn Sales Blog.