Last week I watched four salespeople conduct meetings with new prospects. All but one of them made the same fatal mistake: After asking only one or two questions, they launched into a discussion of products and solutions.

What was particularly interesting was that all of them had drawn up a list of questions to ask, per their sales-training protocols. But as soon as they heard a single statement of need, they launched into a presentation of their solutions.

None of these salespeople asked about the decision-making process, even though each of their prospects mentioned the need to speak to someone else before making a decision. Nor did they ask about budgetary concerns, issues or expectations. In addition, they neglected to ask about the urgency of their prospects’ needs. 

I must give kudos to the one salesperson who uncovered his prospect’s timeframe and went about increasing his sense of urgency once he learned this valuable piece of information. He was very effective and quickly gained his prospect’s attention and interest.

Why is it that salespeople still believe that telling is selling? Along with many other sales trainers, I have been teaching this concept for many years. Countless articles, whitepapers, books, webinars, blog posts and videos extol the importance of asking questions before launching into a sales pitch. Why, then, do many salespeople persist in pitching too soon?

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