With sales costs spiraling upward and sales time becoming limited, considerable prudence is required on the part of every salesperson.

Salespeople need to ask a small number of basic questions regarding a prospect’s precise requirements, time scales, budget, competitive offers, etc., before revealing price and delivery options. It is vital that some initial answers are elicited prior to that first exploratory get-together in order to ensure that the meeting will be worthwhile to both parties.

During that first meeting, a considerable amount of detail can and should be uncovered—background and history of the company/individual, the key decision makers, time scales, budget, competition, current suppliers, etc.

Only by rigorous questioning will a salesperson be able to answer the following questions back at the office:

The very best sales professionals would not pursue an opportunity if, after proper objective analysis, the answer to any of those questions was “no.” They would rather invest their precious selling time seeking out and closing opportunities that provide a profitable return on that investment.

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Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit http://www.topsalesworld.com/, or go to his blog at http://www.thejfblogit.co.uk/.