Earlier this week, I wrote this article about the importance of using specific words and phrases at specific times.
That article discussed some of the milestones in the sales process where just the right word or phrase can make such a huge (make or break) difference in the direction that the sales call takes. In the article, I mentioned "at just the right time", but I didn't elaborate. I'll correct that omission with the following examples.
The ideal time to ask specific questions with carefully selected words or phrases is when it's contextually appropriate.
For instance, you shouldn't come right out and ask which competitor the prospect is buying from today. But when you learn about a quality problem that has persisted for 9 months, it is a contextually appropriate time to ask.
You shouldn't come right out and state that your prices will be higher than the competition. But upon learning of a compelling reason to buy, quantifying the problem and hearing that the reason (that they are still buying from the vendor with the quality problem) is because of their prices, it becomes a contextually appropriate time to let them know.
You wouldn't come right out and ask who the decision-maker is. But upon learning that the problem is costing the company $5MM, it would be a contextually appropriate time to ask who else cares about $5MM.
One of the reasons, why salespeople fail to gain traction, differentiate and convert opportunities to sales, is that the relatively small number of questions which they are asking are coming from a list of questions rather than at a contextually appropriate time.
If you ask the right questions and get the timing right along with it, you'll get the results you are looking for as well.