I was fortunate to spend some time with an agency in Traverse City, Michigan. It’s one of the truly beautiful places on Earth. In addition to its physical beauty, it is an area of extreme honesty.

The agency owner was explaining that one of the first things he noticed when he moved there from Florida was the unmanned cherry stands. He explained that the owners place the quarts of cherries at the roadside stand along a paybox. The whole exchange is done entirely on the honor system. The system works. When the farmer comes back, he is sure to find the paybox along with payment for any cherries that have been taken.


Think of this blog post as one of those roadside stands.

Hopefully you understand the power of questions in the sales process as you look to connect with prospects/clients. Several good friends of mine have agreed to share some of their favorite questions they use when talking with these business owners.

Mark Lacher, Partner with Lacher & Associates

  1. Tell me how your current benefits strategy fits into your overall business planning.
  2. What are your key performance indicators and how do you measure them throughout the year?

Don Phin, President of HR That Works

  1. What are the three most important things you do each day? What keeps you from doing them better?
  2. Have you ever fantasized about running your business without any employees?

Rick Bauman, Founder & Head Coach of iC3

  1. As you look at your benefits program overall, what would you like to see changed?

Rick likes this question for several reasons, but mainly because it engages the prospect and pulls them in as an active participant rather than just a listener.

Jennifer Benz, Chief Strategist and Founder of Benz Communications

  1. What do you want employees to do differently?
  2. (Followed by) And, what’s in the way of them doing that?

Jen points out that, as simple as they sound, by really digging into these questions you will uncover a lot – all of the behaviors they want to change and all of the administrative/process/beliefs/fears that get in the way.

My own contribution

  1. If we were sitting here three years from now, what would have had to happen for you to be satisfied with your progress?
  2. What are you doing to ensure that you have the highest talent in the industry beating down your door for an opportunity to work here?

I especially like the first question because it will get the strategic goals/objectives of the decision maker(s) out on the table. If you can show how you can help with the achievement of those goals/objectives, you will quickly move from being an expense to being an investment.

So there you go, some favorite questions from some of my favorite people.
Like the quarts of Michigan cherries, they are left here with the expectation that if you want to take some with you, you will leave a “payment” in exchange. In this case, payment is sharing a question that you have found to be effective in connecting with your prospects/clients. Share this article on your favorite social site and a question of your own.

Photo by La Grande Farmers' Market.