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The Ten Questions You Dread
By Olin Thompson, Process ERP Partners

Your heart misses a beat. A lump rises in your throat. You were asked one of the Ten Dreaded Questions.

Your heart misses a beat. A lump rises in your throat. If you are a pro with years of experience under your belt, no one sees your discomfort. If you are new at this game, the prospect smells the fear. We all recognize the symptoms. You were asked one of the Ten Dreaded Questions.

What are the Ten Dreaded Questions? It is not a fixed list. It varies by person, by product, by company, by industry, by competitor and maybe the month or even daily. But they are the questions a prospect asks which you fear. They are the question that you feel you cannot answer effectively or maybe not at all. They are the questions that indicate that the deal is lost.

Are these questions limited to sales situations? No, they exist in many jobs and situations. When a customer is on the phone with a customer support person, that person has his or her own list. When accounts payable or shipping or any other person is talking to a customer, they have their own list. Talking to your boss, an interview, and many other situations have a list for most of us. But the sales person's list is the one that cost us money. What can we do about the list?

What questions are on your list?

You know the questions on your list. You need to be prepared to answer them by thinking out the answers in advance. Ideally, the answers should turn the question to your advantage or at least neutralize them. Your answers should be rehearsed, they should come out naturally. If you are prepared for the Ten Dreaded Questions, they may still be dreaded, but they will not terrorize you and you will not stumble on the answer.

The questions fall into a few categories. Some are personal, for example, "How much experience do you have?" Some have to do with your product, "Is it true that one of your customer is suing due to product problems?" Some deal with your company, "Your financial results are suspect, why?"

The answers to the product and company questions must be addressed by company management and marketing. They will not be delivering the answers, but they should establish the best answer and communicate with all involved. Management and marketing need to know what the questions are and how they are changing. Your job is to communicate new questions as they arise. Management and marketing's job is to provide the answers.

Personal questions need answers also. You will be deliveringthe answers, but we suggest you get some ideas and feedback from others. For example, you can answer the question, "How long have you been with your company." with a simple number, but it is an opportunity to sell both your personal experience and the depth of your company.

How should these questions be answered? There are no general answers but we can explore approaches to providing the answers.


Be Preemptive

Since you know the questions in advance and the odds of having to answer them, the best defense may be a good offense.

Olin Thompson is a leading sales & marketing consultat  to application software providers. With 25+  years experience, Olin has been called "The Father of Process ERP". He works with solutions providers, analysts, and the press. To learn more visit Contact Olin directly at 401.421.6968 or e-mail:

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