In Case They Ask – And They Will


In his excellent book, SPIN Selling, Neil Rackham suggests, “a simple technique to help you plan your call strategy and questions:

  • Before the call, write down at least three potential problems which the buyer may have and which your products and services can solve.
  • Then write down some examples of actual Problem Questions that you could ask to uncover each of the potential problems you’ve identified.”*

Rackham’s objective is to help the sales person ask questions that uncover explicit needs of the client which will facilitate an eventual sale.

I’d like to suggest a complementary approach to help with call preparation. Before the call, write down at least three questions that you absolutely do not want the prospect to ask you. These would cover areas of weakness for you, your company, or your product. Give this some real thought and determine which questions could get in the way of a sale. Be tough – if there is an issue that will stop the sale in its tracks, get it on the list.

Once you have the questions, now take time and develop your answer to each question in writing. In some cases, the only reply may be to acknowledge the issue and explain what steps are being taken to mitigate the problem. However, given time to develop your retort, you should be able to come up with responses that address the concern in a thoughtful, comprehensive way.

If you are having trouble with a particular query, get help from your colleagues. In all likelihood, the issue impacts others. Test a couple of different versions until you find one that is comfortable for you. In many cases, topics that you thought were potentially fatal to a potential deal can become non issues when a strong response is prepared in advance. Rather than stumbling for an answer on the spur of the moment, you can present a thoughtful explanation.

As an example, I participated in a group discussion to help a colleague prepare for a closing call with a prospect. My colleague was very concerned that the prospect would shut the call down once they realized that he had never provided this service as a consultant before. After reviewing several alternative responses, my colleague was prepared for the call. The issue did come up during his call and he responded by saying that while he was new to the consulting business, the services he was being asked to provide were functions he had been performing for years as an employee of several firms. The prospect accepted that answer and signed a contract before the call ended. By being prepared, he was able to move forward and close his deal.


*Page 94 of SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham published in 1988 by McGraw-Hill, Inc.

2023 State of Sales Small to Mid-Size Businesses

Our 2023 State of Sales Report reveals most small to mid-size businesses are lacking the fundamentals in the four key sales areas. If you are struggling to drive sales growth, use our report to gain tangible steps for your sales team to focus on.