The Key to Powerful Sales Conversations


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ContextEarlier this week I wrote this article about the importance of using specific words and phrases at specific times.

That article discussed some of the milestones in the sales process where just the right word or phrase can make a such a huge – make or break – difference in the direction that the sales call takes. In the article I mentioned “at just the right time” but I didn’t elaborate. I’ll correct that omission with the following examples.

The ideal time to ask specific questions with carefully selected words or phrases is when it’s contextually appropriate.

For instance, you shouldn’t come right out and ask which competitor the prospect is buying from today. But when you learn about a quality problem that has persisted for 9 months, it is a contextually appropriate time to ask.

You shouldn’t come right out and state that your prices will be higher than the competition. But upon learning of a compelling reason to buy, quantifying the problem and hearing that the reason they are still buying from the vendor with the quality problem is because of their prices, it becomes a contextually appropriate time to let them know.

You wouldn’t come right out and ask who the decision maker is. But upon learning that the problem is costing the company $5MM it would be a contextually appropriate time to ask who else cares about $5MM.

One of the reasons salespeople fail to gain traction, differentiate and convert opportunities to sales is that the relatively small number of questions they are asking are coming from a list of questions rather than at a contextually appropriate time.

If you ask the right questions and get the timing right along with it, you’ll get the results you are looking for as well.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Dave: so glad you bring this up – a refreshing counterpoint to much of what’s written to goad salespeople to stop using this or that sales question. All of which ignores what you’ve identified as the more frequent culprit – context and timing.

    I wrote similarly in a blog titled “What Makes Dumb Sales Questions Dumb?” – inspired by a list of questions that salespeople should stop using.

  2. Thanks Andrew. I’m embarrassed that I missed your original article. I just went back and read it and it’s brilliant. Great list of examples. Thanks for letting me know!



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