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.

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  1. Hooray! Your pointed out my #1 hated smarmy sales question in “what would it take to earn your business?” I’ve been teaching sales workshops for 14 years and am still dumbfounded at how many people LOVE this question. Also the “if I could…. would you be interested in…” If I were a prospect I would reply “How about you make sure you CAN do it, show me, then I will let you know if I want to commit.”

    Thanks for the chuckle :)

  2. Oh wow this is internet gold my friend!!! Some of these questions I have been taught to ask simply for the sake of saying something and not giving my client / customer the idea that I had no response ready to overcome objections. It’s funny how so much of what salespeople are taught by their sales managers and uplines, etc. tends to waste their time as well as the prospect’s time. Awesome post!!! I’m plugged in now!!!

  3. The worst question I hear is this: “Aren’t you interested in saving money?”.

    I can guarantee that the answer you get from the prospect is “No, I don’t want to save money”.

  4. Kristine Collier says:

    Hail Mary to those who agree – in this day and age – you need to be more than just a sales rep. You are an account rep. which means you advise and come to the table with ideas. You need to be more intelligent on the industry you are pursuing and WOW them with your knowledge – not wasting time with questions. Let many learn form this advice.

  5. If you have to ask “What will it take to earn your business,” you look desperate and no one likes to date someon who is desperate. Get real or get off the sales super highway.

  6. Nice list.

    If they’re satisfied with their present supplier, then you’re on an uphill climb and there’s little reason to give your presentation.

    Asking how to earn their business makes you seem too desparate, and seems to lower the perceived value of your product or service.

  7. Undeniably consider that that you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the web the simplest factor to consider of.

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    people consider worries that they plainly don’t understand about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also outlined out the entire thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

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