The Three Critical Questions in Every Sale

What’s really going on in your customer’s mind

To be successful, every sale must answer three questions for your customer. Clearly this is a simple model of how a sales process works, but I have found it very useful to think of my customer’s asking these three question, in this order. Answering each question effectively and in the right order is crucial to an effective sales process or pitch. Here are my three questions:

  1. Why buy?
  2. Why buy now?
  3. Why buy from you?

Why buy

“Why buy” appears to be the simplest question, but it is often overlooked. Sales people naturally gravitate to discussing specific product features or debating about the competition, but the first task we must tackle is convincing the customer that there is a need for what we have to offer. In most sales your toughest competition is the status quo. At this stage, we are generally selling our general category of offering, not our specific product versus the competition. How will buying your product or service improve their business or life?

In order to persuade a customer to make a purchase, you must show them the benefits they will realize from your product or offering. Specific, concrete benefits create a more compelling pitch — so make sure you are asking questions of your prospect that will allow you to quantify the specific benefits you think you can deliver for them.

Why buy now

Once you’ve convinced a prospect that there is a reason to buy something, you must show them the benefit of doing so now. If inertia is the first obstacle you face, prioritization is the second. Even if your prospect is convinced that they should buy a product or service like yours, why should they do it now? Most businesses have many competing priorities, and your job is now to help make this specific project a priority for your customer.

Many techniques exist to address this challenge. One of the best is to be able to quantify the benefits your customer will receive and then put a price tag on waiting. It is also possible to create artificial incentives to ask quickly — sooner realization of benefits — costs of not moving — incentives / promotions

Why buy from you?

Most customers to buy the best product and get a good deal, so even if you are the person who convinced them to do something and to make a decision now, they are going to compare you to the competition. Being asked about or compared to your competition is not a bad thing — it’s a sign that your prospect is serious about making a decision.

This is always the last of the three questions you will have to address. Don’t be surprised if this question pops up at the end of your sales cycle even though your prospect hasn’t been asking about competitors. A prospect may not see the need to dig into competitors until you’ve convinced them that they should buy something in your space — so be ready to handle this when it comes up.