Here are what I find to be the three dumbest questions you could ask in Sales.
The Third Dumbest: "Can you tell me a little about your company."
The question basically mean that you are too lazy or too disinterested to go to the internet and find out. Don't ever ask question, answers to which are obvious. Obvious because you can find them easily. Moreover, a question like this reflects poorly on you. It gets the prospect completely disinterested and bored.
The surprising thing is that it's actually the most popular question with salespeople. It's popular because they feel it's a great opener to a conversation. I'll give you a fact "It's the worst thing you can do to open a conversation." You know why? - Because within the first 30 seconds (and this is a researched fact) the prospect decides whether or not he or she is going to listen to you. With an opening question like this - You blow it up.
The Second dumbest: "Did you go over the proposal we had sent you"
First of all sending proposals in itself is a dumb thing. However, if you do, like most businesses do and then go for a follow up meeting - WHY ask this question. What do you think the answer is going to be? Or let me put it this way - Has anyone EVER said to you in response - "Yes I did and I loved it"
FACT - Don't ever ask a question, any question - the answer to which can be a 'No'.
In most cases even if the prospect has read your proposal - he will not tell you. He will say No. He will not land you an opportunity in your lap.
Moreover - whenever a person responds 'No' to any of your question (relevant or not), the desire to buy (or to say YES) goes down. Mark it as a rule, as a law. It's promen psychology. So never ask any question to which an answer has more probability of a "No" reply.
ALSO Assuming that the prospect does not say No. I've seen people get into real trouble because the prospect turns around and says 'I have and I don't think we need it.' .. Nothing wrong with this reply because it allows you to explore - However if he's saying this before you've even had a chance to present - you can't sell.. Because now you have to overcome a "mindset" as well as "resistance" as well as "NO" as well as "A position".
The Dumbest: "What will it take to get your business" OR "What can I do to help you decide to buy from us"
This is the grandfather of dumbness. It's very likely that you have asked this question sometime in your sales career. IF you don't know what it will take to get their business - TWO things will happen when you ask this question - Either you will walk out empty handed OR you will get the order at zero profit - Either way, you'll lose.
If you walk in KNOWING what it will take to get the business, what the needs are and what the concerns are - it's most likely you'll walk out with the business.
Besides - it's a BIG negotiation error - you handed over all the power. Not just for this particular conversation but for all the times to come.
FINALLY - "Knowing what it will take to get someone's business is the most (the most) powerful technique to getting new business. It' not enough to know this. Your job is to master this."
You don’t need to be a wizard, but you do need to be smart.