Should You Use this Question: “What’s It Going to Take?”


I’ve been giving some thought to the question,

"What’s it going to take to …?"

It’s a bad, salesy-sounding, cheesy technique. And It’s a good technique—when used at the right time, in the right situation.Let’s look at some examples.

The call arrived, I answered, and the salesperson with the office supply company said,

"I’m with _____. I see you’re not with us anymore, and I was wondering what it’s gonna take to get you back with our service?"

So what’s wrong with this approach to win back old customers?


• gives the listener no reason to even answer the question; assumes that the prospect is sitting there, waiting for the salesperson’s call, list in hand of all the "What it’s going to take" criteria for the salesperson;

• puts the prospect in an uncomfortable (and possibly defensive) position, and,

• presumes that the person would even CONSIDER coming back.

Sometime, somewhere, I’d love to see or hear this happen:

Prospect: "Yes, I was expecting your call. I have prepared a list of demands I need met in order for me to buy from you. I can email, FAX these, or read them to you, which do you prefer?"

Fat chance.

Yes, we DO want to know "what it’s gonna take," but at the beginning of a call we must first earn the right to uncover that information. That means you need to offer something of value, which puts them in a frame of mind so they’ll willingly share information with you.

For example,

"Hello Ms. Lostcustomer, I’m Dale Reed with Atom Industries. The reason I’m calling is that we previously had the opportunity to provide you with your computer peripherals and supplies. Depending on what you’re using now, what you’re spending and where, there’s a possibility we might be able to cut your overall costs. I’d like to ask just a couple of quick questions to see if it would be worth it for you to take another look what we might be able to do for you."

This would accomplish precisely what you’re trying to do with your opening: get them talking. You’ll want to find out why they left (which is usually because someone else simply asked them to); what they didn’t like about what they had with you previously; what they like (and don’t like) about what they have now. The answers to these questions sound to me something like what it would take to get them to switch, if that’s even a possibility.

The "What’s it gonna take?" question IS effective and appropriate when used at the right time. The two that come to mind are,

• during your questioning, when you’re looking for buying criteria: "What ultimately, is it going to take to win this contract?" And,

• during a negotiating, resistance handling, or objections mode.

On the second point, sales trainer David Yoho, and author of "Negotiating Higher Prices in Competitive Markets," suggests using it when you sense some resistance or have reached an impasse.

"So, what will it take for us to be able to work together?"

If they say, "Uh, I dunno. A good price," he responds with,

"That’s it?"

Which then leads him into more questions, which of course are used to help identify more ways to build value as opposed to lowering the price.

"What’s it gonna take?" can either get you blown off the phone, or help you uncover great information on the way to a sale. Think of situations during your questioning where it would be appropriate, and then take the next step and prepare for all of the possible answers you could hear, and THEN prepare for how you’ll respond.

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