Here Are The Dumbest Questions Salespeople Ask — And Why They’re Dumb


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Sales Truth: Salespeople become known by the questions they ask.

Knowing this truth, you’d think all salespeople would ask smart questions. You’d be thinking wrong. It never ceases to amaze me, that with all the options salespeople have, they choose to alienate, anger or cause doubt in the mind of the prospect by setting the wrong tone with their questions.

Here are the dumbest questions salespeople ask — and why they’re dumb:

  • Who are you currently using…? Pre-call research should tell you that. And maybe the prospect feels that’s none of your business. Good start.
  • Are you satisfied with your present…? Everyone will tell you they’re satisfied. So what? Well, OK, if you’re satisfied, I’ll just leave and quit.
  • How much are you currently paying for…? None of your business #2. Let’s get down to the price as fast as you can.
  • Can I quote you on…? Why send a quote — the next person who quotes 2 cents cheaper gets the business. What about the value?
  • Can I bid on…? Same as a “quote” only worse. This is a 100% price driven sale. Low margin. Low profit. Low commission. Low percentage of success. How long do you want to go?
  • Tell me a little bit about your business? No. It’s a waste of the prospect’s time. Find out a little bit about the prospect’s business so you can go into the sales call with answers and ideas that may get the prospect excited enough to buy.
  • Are you the person who decides about…? Come on. This is THE question that breeds the most lies. The answer is most often “yes”, and the answer is most often false. Why ask a question that breeds misleading information? The correct question to ask is: How will the decision be made?
  • If I could save you some money, would you…? Every salesperson thinks that the customer will jump at the hint of saving money. This tactic actually has a negative effect on the buyer and makes the salesperson work twice as hard to prove himself and usually at a lower price (and a lower commission).

And the worst question of them all:

  • What would it take to get (earn) your business? This question literally is saying to the prospect: “Look, I don’t have much time here. Could you just tell me the quickest way to get this order, and make me do the least amount of work possible to get it.”

The secret of good (smart) questions are those that make the prospect stop and think, and answer in terms of you. If you ask people questions that you could have found out the answer by some means as simple as looking up the information on their website, how intelligent or hard working does that make you look? Not very.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeffrey Gitomer
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The New York Times best sellers The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Black Book of Connections, and The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude.


  1. Jeffrey: a great list of questions, though it’s a little hard to appreciate how bad they can be when they’re removed from the context of the sales conversation.

    In general, what makes a question poor is when it fails to uncover the information that a salesperson really needs to root out. On the other hand, when a question consistently yields a valuable answer, by all means, keep using it–and don’t worry about whether anyone else thinks the question is good or not.

    But the reason bad questions endure (I think) is because the people asking really don’t know what they’re after in the first place. I don’t have time to re-work all of your examples, but I’ll take on one:

    “Are you satisfied with your present…?”

    What salespeople should be keenly interested in are uncovering risks and opportunities–for themselves and for their clients. Your example is a good one because a) the question is so commonly used, and b) it’s incredibly weak when it comes to discovering risks and opportunities.

    Using this example, a better way to uncover the truth would be by asking “If you could improve upon how your XYZ system works today, or change anything about it, what would it be?”

    The answer to this question opens up great opportunities for discussion, including how valuable those improvements would be.


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