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Asking the Right Questions You don't have to be a master inquisitor to ask your prospects all the right questions. Learn how to set yourself up to seal the deal every time.

By Barry Farber

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As I started to write this column, I realized I had given myself an impossible task. How could I list the smartest sales questions to ask when there are so many? It's even more difficult when you consider that every question must be tailored to the customer, the situation and the stage of the sales cycle.

The questions you ask depend on whom you're selling to; you can't use a question the same way with every customer. The questions you'll see here, then, may not be the smartest questions you can ask, but each has a specific purpose and can be used to great advantage in the appropriate circumstance. Here are three areas to focus on so you can determine your customer's needs and ultimately make the sale:

1. Understand your customer's business. Some questions you might ask: Why do your customers buy from you rather than from your competition? What differentiates you from everyone else in the marketplace? What are some of your key challenges right now, and what are you doing about them?

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