Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Are Curve Balls Putting You in a Sales Slump?

Tags: close more business, sales prospecting, Sales Strategies, effective sales process, asking sales questions

A guest post by Mark Trinkle, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group


“Straight balls – bats like very much…curve balls – bats afraid.”

If you are a fan of the movie Major League, I’m sure you recognize that opening line from the outfielder, Pedro Cerrano, who had a lot of trouble hitting curve balls.  So, in honor of baseball’s All-Star Game that was played in my hometown of Cincinnati, today’s post is all about curve balls.

Do you know who else has trouble hitting curve balls?  Salespeople. And I’m not talking about resurrecting memories from their baseball playing days, but rather I am talking about the curve balls that get tossed at them by their prospects during a sales call.

At Anthony Cole Training, we define curve ball questions as questions that could make you nervous…or questions that might make you squirm. Quite simply, they are questions you wish the prospect simply would not ask.  Now, clearly, the remedy for curve ball questions is adequate pre-call planning, but let’s leave that for another day and another Sales Brew.

For now, let’s look at some of the typical curve ball questions. Here are just a few:

  1. Why should I do business with you? Now that question is one prospects are taught when they attend prospect school; it gets covered on day 1.  If you want to diffuse it, your best bet is to simply respond with “I’m not sure that you should.”

  2. How big is your company? That is another question that has been known to make salespeople look foolish.  And, no doubt, part of the problem here is that the salesperson generally does not know why the prospect is asking the question.  So, here is your response… “I’m curious, I get that question a lot…why do you ask?”

  3. What makes you unique…or how are you different from your competition? Answer this question and you immediately begin to look like a salesperson.  Your best bet is to be able to succinctly sum up what your existing clients would say are the reasons why they hired you.

  4. We’re impressed with what you have presented, but we need some time to look over your proposal. Clearly, this happens most of the time because the salesperson delivers a solution without setting up the expectation around the yes/no option (i.e. we don’t deliver solutions without knowing we are going to get an answer.)  But, nonetheless, your best response here is to ask either “What happens to your problem while you do that?”…or “What have we missed or what is unclear that is preventing you from making a decision today one way or the other?”

Here is the thing about curve ball questions.  They are usually pitches in the dirt.  Stop swinging at them.

Thanks for listening…now go sell like a champion today.