The easiest sales question to ask

And why it’s so important to ask on every sales call

“What’s Next?” 

There it is.  I gave it to you right up front.  Ever see those clickbait web posts that make you weed through mountains of ads to get to the point?  Not this article.

It’s so easy to ask and such a powerful question.  In sales training workshops, we spend extensive time training and practicing how to ask good sales questions.  It’s one of the most important skills for a salesperson.  Often, attendees are hesitant to ask some of the tougher questions, ones that feel like they might be prying too deep into the producer’s business.

So, we design some easy questions for them to keep communication flowing.

“What’s next?” is one of those questions.

This question can be used in several different contexts to help our salespeople out.

The first and most important use for it is at the end of a sales call.  During a sales call, you might discuss all kinds of possible options of working with this customer/prospect.  You discuss a trial run of your product, doing some more soil or feed analysis, reviewing some data and getting back to them, etc.  Before that sales call ends, the question that every salesperson needs to ask or have the answer to is, “What’s next?”.  Other versions of that can be, “How get that started?  Who would I work with to get that started?  If you are going to start that trial in March, then I probably need to get out here next week.  What needs to happen on your end to get that started?”

Any of these questions will begin to dig into the details of the next steps.  They turn hypothetical topics into reality.  A prospect might nod their head in courteous agreement when you offer to do a feeding trial with their herd.  Yet, they didn’t really agree to do it.  Your “what’s next?” question will bring that courteous nod to a reality.  At that point, you may discover their true intentions of working with you.

The “What’s next?” does not have to be asked out loud with the customer.  Often, I am thinking of that question in my head as I wrap up a sales call.  I’m coming up with all the action items that need to happen after this sales call.  In my head, I’m asking myself, what do I need to do, next?  What do I need them to do?  From those answers in my head, I can start asking about the next steps.  Besides, many customers don’t know what to do next.  If they don’t know you, your company, your products, or how to work with you, then they need you to offer up what’s next.

As a salesperson, a sales manager, and now as I train and coach salespeople, I made this mistake too often and see too many other salespeople make it as well.   I would have a great sales call.  Talk about a lot of different next steps for the future of working with this prospect.  However, at the end of the sales call, I did not lock down the details of what was going to actually happen next. 

Whether you ask this question out loud or in your head, never leave an appointment without the answer to, “What’s next?”

Good luck in your ongoing battle to establish as much value in what you offer to your customers!

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