1. "What do you know about us/me/this project/proposal…?"
If the person you’re trying to influence/sell to/negotiate with is on the ball, they will immediately ask you if this is a test. Nobody likes to be put on the spot, so why would anyone want to risk potentially humiliating and alienating the person they wish to influence, right from the start? Perhaps it’s because they simply want to know what the person thinks of them, their idea or proposal before presenting their side. However, it would be good to remember that whether the person knows a lot, a little, or nothing at all about what you have to offer, nobody knows it as well as you – so it’s your job to tell them and not the other way around.
This is probably one of the most unimpressive “killer” questions, as it implies that you are so desperate for a sale or for agreement that you may be willing to do anything in order to close the deal! If you aren’t willing to do anything, then why ask that question? Instead, it would be far more constructive to use a more consultative process of discussion in order to uncover what the person actually needs/wants in a less confrontational/direct way.
This is another “killer” question that puts the other person on the spot. Firstly, what is so special about following up in 7, 14 or 30 days? It may be a good time-scale for you, but don’t assume that it is just as good for them, or that they even want you to follow-up on your conversation. Secondly, they may not want you to call them at all... So instead of dictating the follow up time-frame, you could ask if it would be helpful to get back in touch, and when would be the best time for them. At least that way you know you won’t be wasting your time or their time, or becoming an irritant to someone who just doesn’t feel able to say “no”.
- What are the different ways that you...?
- Can you recall a situation where...?
- What would you do differently if...?
- What's been your experience with...?
- Whose opinion matters most about...?
- What prevents you from...?
- What three things stand in your way...?
- What are the benefits you'd like to see as a result of...?
- How are you avoiding...?
- What trends are affecting the way you...?
- What do you think is the best way to achieve...?
- What are you missing out on by...?
- How would you like… to describe...?
- What would need to happen for you to feel...?
- What would your three best customers say about...?
- What are the most common questions that your customers ask when...?
- In the past six months, how have you...?
- What advice would you give to...?
- What are you currently doing to reduce...?
- What do you think makes the difference between...?
So next time a well-meaning but ill-informed colleague asks you to can share your “killer questions” with them, you know what to do: suggest that using a consultative approach might be more productive, and tell them that a killer question may well kill the deal, but it’s also likely to murder the on-going relationship!