So many questions to ask, so little time.  It would be great if your sales team members could ask prospects all the questions they’d like, but typically there isn’t enough time.  It’s a crazy busy business world.

There is one question, however, that should always make your team’s short list:

“Who, including yourself, is involved in the decision making process?”

How many times have you had a sales team member lose an opportunity because some new decision maker steps out of thin air and squashes the deal?  Asking this question can mitigate losing an opportunity due to the appearance of an unknown decision maker.

Question guidelines

Make sure your team understands four important guidelines to using this question:

First, use the exact wording.  If you ask, “Who else is involved in the decision making process?” for example, it may come across as demeaning.  The prospect may think, “So, you think I’m just an underling”?

Second, if the prospect doesn’t elaborate, follow up with, “What are their roles in the process?”  This often leads to a broader conversation that helps your salesperson understand the prospect’s buying process.

Third, listen carefully for titles that are not mentioned.  You know the likely titles of decision makers that should be involved in buying your software.  If your primary contact does not identify a likely title, ask about it.  For example:

  • “I noticed you haven’t included anyone from IT.  Who will determine if our technology matches your IT team’s specifications?”
  • “Companies I work with that are similar to yours often need their legal teams to review the paperwork.  Who will review the paperwork from a legal perspective?”

By having your team probe in this manner, more of their software demonstrations will have all of the decision makers in attendance.

Fourth, consider requesting a five minute phone conversation with each decision maker prior to giving your software demonstration.  During these conversations, ask:

  • “Please tell me about your key responsibilities.”
  • “What is the most important aspect of new software to you?  Why?”
  • “Compared to other important business initiatives you are managing over the next few quarters, what is the relative priority of getting new software?”

These simple questions will provide your team members with invaluable insights so they can deliver a more effective demonstration.

Executive Summary

Train your salespeople to ask, “Who, including yourself, is involved in the decision making process?”  This simple question can increase your team’s software demonstration-to-close ratio as soon as next quarter!

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