As practitioners of BUYERnomics™ know, the ability to formulate high quality questions is one of the key skills to master. Particularly the killer question. You all know the one; it’s the holy grail of questions.

The one that stops your buyer in his tracks and really makes him think because it goes right to the heart of the problem or challenge he has or didn’t know he had.

In this time pressured world, where meetings are necessarily short, the killer question can cut right to the heart of an issue, that a hundred lesser questions can only skirt round. However, over the years I’ve realised that the killer question is an accident waiting to happen for many sales professionals, both veterans and rookies alike.

When I coach sales professionals on mastering the killer question, I always get at least one person telling me about their favourite question – usually the veteran. They have over the years relied on that one question that opens up the buyer and gets right to the heart of any discussion. Equally the more junior, or less experienced sales professional, always wants to be given a list of great questions to trot out in their sales meetings. Both miss the point of a killer question.

Killer questions are about one thing and one thing only: context. Not yours. Not your product’s or solution’s. But the context of your buyer. Once you view the killer question from that perspective it’s easy to see why both senior and junior sales professionals fall into the typical trap: you can’t ask your ‘favourite question’ if it’s about context since it is highly unlikely your buyer’s context will always fit your question. It might do, one time out of one hundred but that’s a pretty poor hit rate!  Similarly, having a list of ‘killer questions’ puts you in the same trap. What if those supposedly great questions don’t fit your buyer’s context. Same outcome.

Either way you’ve effectively wasted an opportunity to add real value to your buyer’s business. An opportunity to make them think about their business in ways they hadn’t previously considered. To challenge their current thinking and lead them out of the conundrum they find themselves in. When you couch it in those terms you quickly realise that just trotting out the same old question day in day out says a lot about you to your buyer. The likelihood is that others will also have asked the same question so there is zero differentiation. Heck, they will have probably asked the question of themselves. It also shows that you don’t truly understand the buyer’s business. Worse still, that you can’t be bothered.

So, how do you gain the necessary context to ask the killer question? It’s all in the preparation. The more you know about your buyer up front the better questions you are going to ask and that’s simply down to being very well prepared prior to your session. If you are lucky enough to have a BUYER profile, read it. Talk to colleagues. Ring your buyer beforehand. Our advice is to use GROW, a sales facilitation model. To learn a little more about GROW for sales read my recent blog. It’s written in the context of helping you prep for a call, but the model works equally well for a meeting.

So, what will your killer question be at your next sales meeting?