Expert Point of View

Nick Rojas

Industry Writer and Expert


Often, a successful sales pitch is all about finding the right conversation, which is why sales scripts are (in good businesses) always being improved and adjusted. With this in mind, here are several questions and discussion starters that can lead you to profitable conversations with important leads. Always keep a few of these as key points for sales representatives when faced with new clients.

What Do You Need to Reach Your Goals?
This questions gets right to the "let me help you" message that most successful sales conversations focus on. It keeps representatives from trying to sell and instead lets them focus on the lead. This is a great start to a long-term client relationship. Keep in mind that those goals could be anything from a complex business service to a simple product solution, depending on the brand. The key is here is moving attention to the lead and letting them talk out their problems so representatives can diagnose their wants and needs correctly and then offer solutions. Consider working in questions about the budget at this time, too.
What Didn't Work With the Last Thing You Tried?
This is an incredibly useful question because it accomplishes two things at once. First, it offers a human connection to a lead who might be frustrated with sales talk and assumes no one is really listening. Second, it gives the representative an opportunity to save time and treat the lead with respect by offering a package or product that addresses the exact issue they have. Remember that there are many variations to this type of question, but they all seek to find out what has gone wrong in the past so it can be fixed in the future. This usually uncovers the heart of lead dissatisfaction and points the way toward a resolution—and a switch in loyalties if you are trying to win over customers from competitors.
It Sounds Like You Prefer [Blank]
This question is a bit more complex because it shouldn't be based on a single conversation, if possible. Ideally, a representative will have a profile on the client that shows what they do, what they have bought in the past, where they want to go, what they are like, and so on. The rep should use this customer data to project a little and offer a particular, customized plan. When done correctly, this starts a conversation about sales details and alignment, which leads to a purchase.
Do You Have Time to Talk About This?
It's always good to keep this question in your pocket, especially for cold calls or more difficult clients. A sales conversation is going to be a quick failure if people don't actually have the opportunity to listen, so get this one out of the way early on. It should be followed by an attempt to schedule time or send over materials and makes a great combination when followed by one of our earlier conversation starters. Also note that this sort of question works better with a decision maker than a first contact; it's good to push a little at a first contact to discover who actually makes the final purchase call.

Talk About Your Future Plans and Hopes for This Brand
This is similar to "what do you need to reach your goals" but works better for general alignment and customer loyalty. Consultants and service companies may find it particularly useful when putting together customer profiles and forming solutions that companies themselves may not fully understand they need. This question starts an expedition, so be prepared to record it carefully.
Would You Also Be Interested in This?
Upselling and cross-selling are integral parts of sales conversations, but they aren't always attempted correctly. Consider saving this question for a later conversation if necessary. Here the goal is not solely additional selling, but also understanding the lead more clearly.
Here's What You Need to Work on for Your Clients and Leads
What, did you think every good sales conversation needs to be with a lead? On the contrary, some of the most important conversations take place with your sales representatives. Many shoddy representatives are allowed to keep missing sales because managers don't actually sit down and go over where they need to improve. Don't let all the other conversations go to waste—always keep this one in the quiver.


Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted fot small and medium-size enterprises for more than 20 years. He has also contributed articles to, Entrepreneur and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at