When a car salesman wants to know your budget, he doesn’t ask “How much money do you make?” Like religion and politics, income is a sensitive topic. It’s a surefire way to turn off a prospect, and most car buyers know that by answering they give up their negotiating power.
You don’t have to explicitly ask for information to get it. People will often volunteer it if you reframe the question. A car salesman might casually ask, “What do you do?” during small talk. This is less touchy and more conversational, prompting the prospect to share rather than withdraw. Most buyers enjoy talking about their job, and their response reveals an approximation of their income.
Let’s run through a more relatable example. You’re selling SaaS, on a per user basis. On the phone is a prospect and you want to know the size of the potential deal. It’s natural to ask, “How many seats are you interested in?” However, it can be offputting, as your prospect may have heard, “How much money will this deal make me?” They may think you’re more concerned with commission than solving their problems. Not a good start.
Fortunately, you can get an answer without the risk of souring the relationship. A little tact is all that’s required. You could instead ask, “How many of your colleagues might benefit from our product/service?”
Likewise, asking point blank if the person you’re talking to has decision-making power may not be wise. No one likes to feel insignificant. What they might hear is, “I want to talk with someone who matters.” Suddenly they’re defensive, bitter, and not responding to your emails.
A better way to learn who’s in charge is to ask, “Who else is affected by this decision?” or “Who else needs to be looped in?” These questions are less likely to collide with your prospect’s ego and you’ll be armed with information to move forward.
Note: This was originally published as part of a piece on the PandaDoc Blog. You can find that original post here: http://blog.pandadoc.com/5-new-years-selling-resolutions-for-2017