Every person at a business has a role in selling, and there are several easy ways to influence your contracts in a positive way and be a better salesperson by asking a few unassuming yet effective questions. Your clients will not only appreciate your thoroughness, they’ll also bring you more business.

  1. Understand your client’s timeline.
  2. This seems like common sense but is often forgotten or—more dangerously—people assume they understand the needs of their clients and the timing of their projects. If you didn’t ask the question and receive confirmation, you’re assuming.

    A well placed question similar to, “When are you hoping to start this project or service?” Or “Do you have a completion date in mind?” is all it takes to open up the lines of communication and show you something of how your client or prospective client ticks.

    Answers to these questions should be treated as gold. Why? By understanding your role in your prospect’s mind, you can target efforts and align yourself with their goals, instead of your own.

  3. Define and agree on next steps.
  4. It’s simple, right? Not so much. Once you understand your client’s timeline, you can suggest meaningful and helpful next steps. Do you owe your client more information on a question they asked? Is your proposal or estimate clear? Are they meeting with other contractors or service providers before they decide? Ask for confirmation.

    And don’t fall into the trap of throwing out a day or time to see if your client objects. People will lean towards being polite unless you genuinely ask for confirmation and buy-in. This helps you set quality goals with your client and increases your chance of moving the engagement forward.

  5. Find out how they like to communicate.
  6. Let’s face it: technology has altered the way we communicate these days and people are busier than they have ever been. And your prospects are splitting their time between many priorities, just as you are. Asking how and when to communicate with your client can make the difference between winning business and spinning your wheels.

    Try a simple question like, “Do you prefer I call you or reach out by email?” or “Are mornings or afternoons best?” You’d be surprised by how many people finalize buying decisions by email these days…and if you don’t have a company website or LinkedIn profile, get one.

    This is another forum where prospects or clients expect to see a business presence at the very least, even if it’s not perfectly polished—and to be able to seek out more information on their own time.

  7. Don’t be afraid to say you’re not a fit.
  8. You want happy customers, and this may sound obvious but it’s easy to forget: customers want to be happy with the services they purchase. If you can tell right from the beginning that you will miss satisfying this customer for whatever reason, tell them. Your lost leads, your employees and your future clients who will be referred to you because they are good fits will thank you.