Since managing the scope of a sales project requires an understanding of the client's needs, you will have to ask a lot of questions. Do you take time to clarify your intent before you ask your client an important question?
Before you ask a question, you might want to pause and clarify your reason for asking. If a client seems hesitant to answer your questions, it could be that they have doubts about your motives.
- They may not trust you enough to answer honestly and completely.
- They may not believe that your intent is to help them succeed.
- They may fear that you are going to try to use information they share against them.
If, for example, you want to help them make an intelligent business decision about whether or not you should be talking, you can get them to agree that it would make sense to answer your questions about their needs.
You could start by explaining to them that you know a lot about the solutions your company offers, but do not know if any of them would address the problems they are trying to solve. If they understand that you need to ask questions to make the dialogue relevant to their particular situation, they will be more inclined share meaningful information with you.
If you start to ask questions without first clarifying your intent, the client may suspect that you are trying to ask them a series of questions designed to corner them and trick them into making a decision before they are ready.
Asking for permission to ask a question can also help to reduce their anxiety. You could ask if they would be willing to discuss their needs so that you can help them decide if it makes sense to continue talking, or not.
"No" is an OK response
Have you ever had someone say to you: "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" and then proceed to ask you question after question, barely giving you time to respond? You probably felt a bit trapped.
When you ask a yes or no question, you may want to confirm that the other party understands that it is all right for them to say "no."