Sales Call Plan: Sample Questions


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In my last blog, I suggested that THE key characteristic of great sales professionals is their ability to ask the right question, to the right person, at the right time. The reason that questioning is so important is that it is the sales professional’s key to understanding and knowledge.

Below are sample questions that can used as a starting point for developing sales call questions. Clearly these questions need to be modified and tailored to the specific selling environment. Note that these are open ended questions, meaning that they cannot be answered with a simple YES-NO answer.

Vision Questions
• What are the 3-4 key strategic initiatives for your company this year?
• What is the time frame for accomplishing these initiatives?
• How will accomplishing these objectives affect the business?
• What role is your organization expected to contribute to the accomplishment of these corporate objectives?
• What role might an outside partner play in helping you accomplish these goals?

Current Situation
• What is the primary mission of your department/organization?
• What are the critical success factors for you, your team and your organization?
• How is your organization measured and evaluated?
• What might be done to insure or accelerate the accomplishment of your goals/objectives?
• What financial investment is required/available to accomplish these goals?
• What are the top three operational or business challenges that you face on a daily/weekly basis?
• If you could change anything in the current environment, what would that be?
• Who/what puts the most demand on your organization? Explain

Decision Making Process
• How are decisions made in the company?
• What are the key steps in your decision making process?
• What role do you personally play in this type of decision?
• Who else is typically involved in these decisions and what role do they play?
• Does the company value individual decision making or prefer consensus decisions?
• How intimately involved, in these types of decisions, is the person who actually signs the contract?
• At what point will you involve this individual?
• At what point do we need to involve the contracts and legal department?

Decision Time Frame/Funding
• What is the typical time frame for strategic/tactical decisions?
• How are strategic/tactical decisions funded?
• What department would typically fund this type of acquisition?
• When will the funding be available?
• Who approves the acquisition?
• Who signs the purchase order?

• How does the organization justify this type of investment?
• How does the organization measure the success/failure of the investment, after the fact?
• What contribution might a vendor make to your justification process?
• What are your key performance indicators?

Qualification (Clearly these questions must be specific to the vendor’s offering)
• What are the “must have” capabilities of the solution?
• What are the key evaluation criteria that will be used to select the vendor?
• What lack of capability would automatically exclude a vendor?
• Who in the organization has the most to gain from this solution?
• How significant is the solution to the overall organization?
• How might this solution impact the overall goals of the company?
• Besides the people who are directly dealing with the problem, how might others benefit from the solution?
• What is the impact if the organization doesn’t solve the problem, deliver a solution, or meet the need?
• How is the organization handling the issue or problem now?
• What is the biggest complaint in the organization regarding a lack of a solution today?

• What alternatives is the organization considering?
• What are the key (say 5) solution criteria that the successful vendor must deliver?
• Who is the preferred vendor today? Why?

Our Company
• What do you know about our Company?
• We have customers in your industry, what non-confidential information might be of benefit to you?
• What type of customer might be appropriate for you to call/visit?
• When would a presentation and demonstration of our capability vis-à-vis your requirements be appropriate?
• If yes, who should be invited to that presentation/demonstration meeting?
• What are the most valued characteristics of vendors that you consider as true partners?
• What is the worst thing that a vendor can do?
• What are the appropriate next steps for us?

“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.”
Dean Rusk


Mike Ehrensberger
Sales Force Systems, LLC
Since 1995 Mike Ehrensberger has concentrated on sales performance and effectiveness training and tools with Sales Force Systems. Earlier, he spent 1 years with Teradata Corporation in sales management and customer support management positions.


  1. The process of performing Workflow Analysis provides a wonderful set of questions – and highly valuable answers.

    In many customer situations, the problem or desired change may be associated with an internal process or workflow. If this is the case, here are a few delightful questions to probe the customer’s situation further:

    – What are you doing today – can you please map out your current process? [Even better if this is done on a whiteboard…]

    – And what is the output of this workflow – what is the desired deliverable? [E.g., a report, a document, a completed record entry, etc.]

    – Hmmm… What needs to change? What portions of the process are particularly problematic?

    – I see… And how often do you run this workflow? With how many people involved? And how long does each execution of the process take today? [This provides a rough estimate of the current cost of executing the workflow.]

    – Uh huh… And what would you like this to be – what amount of time/cost reduction would you like or need to see to feel that you’ve really addressed the problem?

    [The answer to this is HUGELY important – by subtraction you get a top-level value associated with making the change. We call this the “Delta” – extremely important in software demonstration process and in sales in general!

    Peter E. Cohan
    The Second Derivative
    1538 Winding Way
    Belmont, CA 94002
    Telephone: +1 650 631 3694
    Email: [email protected]


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