Modern Selling: 10 Questions for Your Prospects

May 17, 2018
What every salesperson should ask in the first meeting with a potential new customer

One of the best ways to make an impact in your first meeting with a new prospect is to have an open conversation about stimulating topics that are meaningful – both to you and the prospect. How many doors need readers, and How many cameras do you currently have are not stimulating topics – you can learn these basic answers later.

Why not let your competition bore your prospects to death, while you ask about the things that will actually help the relationship.

I have listed below 10 questions that every salesperson should ask in the first meeting with a new prospective customer. As you read the list, please note that you probably will not have to ask all 10 questions.

These questions are meant to stimulate a dialogue – If you listen closely, you will get all your answers after asking only four or five of them. The questions are listed in a recommended order; however, they should follow rapport-building and disarming statements to transition the meeting. In other words, don’t sit down and just start asking these questions from a cold beginning.

1. Why did you decide to take a meeting with me? This is an excellent opening question because the answer could provide you with enough information for the entire meeting. Position it like: I know you are busy, so I am curious why you decided to take my meeting now?

2. What are the largest security challenges facing your organization in the next year or two? Offer some suggestions to illustrate that you know the trends and issues in their market. For example: “I’ve noticed other companies in your industry being challenged by (insert issue)…”

3. How does your organization make major security purchasing decisions? Whether there is an active project or not, you should know this answer. A quick follow-on could be: “How do we get invited to compete?”

4. Who is on the decision-making committee? Gather as much information as possible – names, titles, superiors, etc.

5. In most of your security purchases, how important is price on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being price means nothing and 10 being lowest bid always wins, regardless of other factors). Try to position this question as being owned by the organization, not the person with whom you are meeting. Do not ask “How important is price to you” because most people don’t want to sound cheap; however, they are usually open to admitting that their company is cheap.

6. Which department is your biggest obstacle in getting the security technology you need? Keep this question at the department level and let them make it personal.

7. What are some of your favorite traits of past providers? Don’t use the words current provider or name their current provider. You want to learn about the things that they like, but also position their provider as “past.”

8. What are some of the worst things I can do to damage our relationship? Once they start answering, let them go. They may talk forever. Their answer will give you valuable information and helps them remember negative aspects of past providers.

9. What’s the best time of day to contact you? Offer an extreme example: “Are you a 6:30 a.m. person?”

10. Do you mind using text messaging? This one may feel tough to ask, but ask it. If they don’t mind, then you have a great weapon over your competition, who may be using email and voicemail to their peril. Ensure your new prospect that you do not abuse text messaging, but sometimes you have found it more convenient for your customers.

Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. To request more info about the company, visit