Last week I provided examples of the kinds of questions you need to ask on the way to 2nd Base. I also invited readers to send me their questions and I would let you know if you got them right. I still have a number of emails to respond to but will share this reader’s questions because they were so good.

My reader, we’ll call her Mary, was invited in to meet with a prospect who sent out an RFP to 10 vendors who were each instructed to come in and present their firm’s capabilities. I coached Mary to go in and ask 10 (she came up with 4 more for 14) great questions and not present anything.  She was concerned that by not presenting as requested, they would look at her in a negative way but she forged ahead anyway, asking questions like:

“What do you want people to say about your company?” They didn’t have an answer for this question and if you’ve read the book, you know that nothing works better than asking questions your prospects to which your prospects don’t know the answer.

“What is your brand promise?” They didn’t know the answer to this one either. A Double!

“Why do you want to launch in November? They wanted to take advantage of the holiday so she followed up with “But shouldn’t you be promoting the business prior to the holiday?” They hadn’t thought of that.

“Why don’t you have the company that is developing your web site do your marketing?” They don’t do that.

It would have been much easier for Mary to present her firm’s capabilities and, like the others who presented before her, hand them a nice spiral bound notebook.

But since she asked questions for an hour and didn’t present, her prospect knows that she knows stuff that they don’t know and that her competitors didn’t know to ask. Her prospect knows that because she asked great questions, her firm is the only one that can come back and present ideas in context.  Her prospect knows they can learn about the firm’s capabilities on line. They have to bring her back as one of the final three because she developed SOB Quality. She successfully differentiated herself from everyone else.

On her way out the door, Mary thanked the prospect for the invitation and apologized for not presenting. The prospect said, “No. Thank You! You asked such great questions and you were the only one to take the time to do your homework. We really appreciate that!”

Great job Mary!

To learn more about how you can ask better questions, ask them more frequently, and get “I don’t know” for an answer, read the chapter on Getting to 2nd Base.