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Don’t ask this qualifying question

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Should you ask a prospect “What’s in your budget?” A lot of sales training programs tell you that it’s very, very important to qualify your prospects before you move forward. And if they don’t have money in their budget, then you need to move on because it’s a strong indication of whether or not they may actually buy.

Let me give you an example that I think refutes this entirely: Recently, I got a call from “Lauren.” She does website and social-media stuff. She happened to look at my website and noticed that I was missing some very important things from a social-media perspective. She sent me an email, told me what was missing and asked me if I was interested in learning more. I was surprised and my curiosity was piqued. I thanked her for the insights and asked her if she did any work in that area. She said she did — then asked me what my budget was.

That was not the right question to ask! I had no idea what her value was or the time it would take her to solve the problem. She was creating a box for herself, and she got me flustered because I didn’t know how to answer the question.

Now, my normal reaction would be to throw out a low-ball number. This would make her upset, because she might feel her time was worth more and that she couldn’t afford to do the job for that amount.

She shouldn’t have asked the question at all. She should have focused on the need, found out a little bit more about me and suggested what it would cost, so that I could decide if it was worth spending the money on. If she’d have done that, she’d have gotten a sale a whole lot faster.

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.


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