Last week, I designated April as “Questions month” and discussed the intent of the questions we should be asking in a sales scenario.
The next important thing to discuss is the quantity of questions we should be asking. There is an obvious trap to avoid of asking to many questions, or too few. So the question about questions comes up. How many questions should we be asking.
Shannon, One of my clients has a very defined process for her questions.
“I ask exactly seven questions on every discovery call. Within those 7 questions I gather all the data I need to be able to make an intelligent recommendation,” she explains. Rick, another client of mine takes a more intuitive approach, claiming that he “feels” out the client’s patience level with questions but usually asks closer to 10 questions.
So who’s right? I’m a sales scientist, and when I face these kind of issues, I like to turn to the data. in 2018, a study was performed analyzing over 500,000 discovery meetings, including the success or failure of the call. The results are really interesting and provide a clear guideline on the quantity of questions sales people should ask.
The study revealed a success rate of 46% when less than 6 questions are asked (confirming both Shannon and Rick’s opinions). 6 or less questions is clearly too few, because once 7 or more questions are asked, the success rate jumped to around 66%. Asking enough questions bumps your odds of success by 20%. Not too shabby.
But what was really interesting about the study was that the sales people who asked between 11-14 questions on average saw a success rate close to 75%, an almost 10% bump. 11-14 seems to offer the balance between asking enough questions, without causing your average prospect to lose patience.
Lastly, the distribution of questions had a big impact. Sales reps who front loaded questions in the discovery call struggled far more than sales reps who distributed them more evenly and made the conversation more of a back and forth.
- Make sure you ask enough questions (>6)
- Try to avoid asking too many questions (<15)
- Don’t bombard your prospect with questions right out of the gates.
Next week, we’ll discuss the quality of questions we should be asking.