Three Reasons Why Your Sales Questions Fail – Mistakes Business Owners and Sales People Make that Take Money Out of Their Pocket


“Will your family be protected if you die?” splashed across a huge banner on a storefront in Pittsburgh, PA.

Bad question. Chuckling, this is a perfect example of a bad question I had covered in my sales training on Monday. This question failed to ask a targeted question. Don’t you love when you see an image of an example you can share?! I admit I’ve had my share of bad sales questions. Sales questions which led me down a detour of no return, which is why I can easily spot them now.

Here are three reasons why “Will your family be protected if you die?” failed:

• It’s too vague.

• This question creates too many possibilities inside the reader’s head.

• You can’t create a concrete image in your head. Because you can’t create a visual, you’re asking your own questions back “Protected from what?” “Protected from people who prey on families?” “Protected from break-ins?”

Because there isn’t a business name on this banner you don’t know what they’re selling.

There’s another path of questions, too.
• “What kind of protection?”
• “Is the protection a security system?”
• “Is the protection self-defense?”

More than likely the owner wanted to capture attention with a shocking question to make by-passers think. From that perspective, the owner accomplished it.

On the flip side, think about it. If the banner question had you wondering what he meant, has he created the emotional pain to make you stop what you were doing and visit him? Or would you shrug it off and go about your day?

To turn a vague question into a targeted question, follow this CIA three-step system:
1. Create. Write your question with the purpose of having a specific result or response in mind.
2. Inspect. Like an investigator look at each word in the sentence and ask if it is specific or vague? Does it take you down the road to results you want?
3. Ask. Read your questions and ask “what image does it create? Our brains are wired to see visuals 60,000 times faster than a written word. Images take us to the emotional, right side of our brain.

Rewrite until it is a powerful question that makes an impact (or gives a power punch.)

To Do Exercise: Let’s transform this vague question.

• Will your family be protected if you die?

Power Questions:

• Will your family survive without your paycheck?
• Will your family be able to make the mortgage payments if you die?
• Will your family have health insurance if you die?

What vague questions do you need to convert into powerful questions?

Sales Trainer and Conference Speaker Mj Callaway works with private companies, family businesses and sales teams who want to increase their sales by 50 percent. Her vision is to be the catalyst to give business owners and salespeople the tools they need to never be broke and to always provide them with the means to make a good living. Mj’s clients include many industries from building and construction to manufacturing to travel management.

As an author of three best-selling books, Mj is one call away from speaking at your next conference, meeting, or customizing a sales training workshop for your sales teams and non-sales staff. Contact Mj today at 724.396.4162 or To learn more about Mj, visit her at


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