In every sales call there comes a point where nothing is going to happen unless the salesperson does something. It could be the point where you haven’t heard any compelling reasons. It could be the point where you need to qualify your prospect. It could be the point where you need to close. It could be the point where you need to build value. It could be some other point.

At this point in time, you have two choices: you can either do what the situation calls for; or you can do what you’re comfortable with. Most salespeople choose the latter. Their arsenal of what they consider comfortable usually includes either presenting or giving out references, but seldom utilizes asking the next tough question.

Asking tough questions is really the single thing you must master. For instance, if you golf, and you want to lower your score, you must master putting. If you play tennis, and you want to win more often, you must master your net game. If you want to close more business, you must master the art of asking good, tough timely questions. I don’t care how good your presentations are. I don’t care how much you know about your product or service I don’t care how strong your relationships are. If you can ask lots of good questions, you’ll close lots of business. If not, you’ll get some business because of your knowledge and relationships but it will come when your prospects can’t wait any longer and more often than not, it will go to your competition.

You’ll need good questions to get appointments on your way to 1st base. You’ll need good questions to turn your suspect into a prospect on the way to 2nd base. You’ll need good questions to turn your prospect into a qualified opportunity on the way to 3rd base. And you’ll need good questions to learn whether the solution you provided on the way home is both needs and cost appropriate. Finally, you’ll need the 3 questions that make up the Inoffensive Close to get the business signed and sealed. You can find all of the questions you’ll need in Baseline Selling. Review the chapters on Getting to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Bases as well as the chapter on running home.