• Vince Bowry

13 Sales "Ice Breakers" To Start The Conversation




A few days ago I found myself in a common situation.


I was reviewing software and I scheduled a discovery call for a solution that I was interested in. By the way, I love to be sold.


On the call, the sales rep spent 5 minutes explaining their software to me, reading all of the benefits... line by line, explaining the features and telling me all about how their customers are benefitting from their solution, without ever asking me what problem I was trying to solve.


As time passed, I found myself checking emails and beginning to drift off as the sales rep was relentless in their pursuit of ensuring that I understood the intricacies of the back end of their software, which I had no interest in.


I just want to know if they could solve my problem.


I've been told that "telling ain't selling!"


As mentioned in our earlier blog - Effective Meetings, it's not about selling... it's all about providing a level of customer satisfaction that delivers increasing amounts of value over time, creating a natural growth in base-product use, piquing interest in new solutions, and developing a real partnership between you and your customers.


Effective sales communication is not about reading a feature sheet. It's about;

  • understanding your customer

  • understanding their business

  • uncovering the problem that they are trying to solve

  • aligning your solution with their problem to alleviate their challenges

Sounds pretty simple but it is difficult to embed into daily practice without the right framework.


In no particular order.... here are my 13 Sales "Ice Breaker" Questions that I have used to better understand if and how my solutions can solve the problem(s) of my prospects and customers.

  1. What's keeping you busy nowadays?

  2. What problem are you trying to solve?

  3. What is on the top of your "to-do list" in terms of projects and initiatives?

  4. What tools and resources are you using to reach your goals?

  5. What do you want to see happening that isn't happening today?

  6. What are the top challenges that you are trying to overcome this quarter/year?

  7. Why have the challenges that you mentioned bubbled to the top and taken priority over others? What are the barriers to solving these challenges?

  8. What strategies have you tried so far? How did that work out? Who was involved? In your opinion, why didn't that strategy work?

  9. Where did the problem originate?

  10. Have you earmarked a budget to solve this problem? If you had an unlimited budget, what would you do to solve the problem? (ie Hire more people, purchase software, train staff, etc).

  11. How do you measure the success of this initiative/project? What are your criteria for success? What are your ideal outcomes? What would success look like for you?

  12. Who else would need to be involved in any changes at your organization? Who makes the final decision?

  13. What is your timeline to solve this problem? Ideally, when would you want to get started?

Bonus Question: Ask "Why?" It seems almost too simple but asking "why" requalifies the answer that you just received and allows you to delve deeper into the issues or challenges of your prospects and customers.


Bonus Strategy: It's always hard not to mention your solution at the beginning of a meeting, but if you truly want to identify the challenges of your prospects, ask at least 10 questions before mentioning your product or service. This allows you to fully understand how to position your solution based on the variables such as your prospect's budget, timeline and decision-making capacity.


Mix and match these questions to make your discovery calls more efficient and effective.


Vince Bowry is the Founder of Eduthink. For more information on our solutions, contact us.

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