The Magic Question by Catherine Brown

Imagine if there were one question you could ask your sales prospects that would open discussion and dramatically reduce the risk of you losing the sale? Would you try it? If you’re in B2B sales and are tired of spending time on leads that aren’t closing, then you may need to consider The Magic Question.

The Magic Question is this: “How does the decision process work in your company?”


Now you may be asking next, “What’s so magic about that question?” I’ll tell you! Because it’s an open-ended question that can be interpreted several different ways, your prospect’s answers will lead to more discussion that you must have with them in order to know how to win the work. If you ask “How does the decision process work in your company?” your prospect may think you’re asking:

What other executives have to be involved in deciding about buying this product/service?


What’s the paperwork approval process for doing business with your company?


How long do decisions like this typically take?

Or… any number of other things!

That’s okay because, here’s the THING: Don’t you need to know all of these answers for your sales opportunity to be truly qualified? Yes! With The Magic Question, the conversation can go any number of ways, but all the discussion that comes out of this question is critical to your qualifyingthe opportunity.

It’s not uncommon for someone to reply to The Magic Question with an answer like “Oh, well, first, I am gathering information about vendors, and then we are creating a Request for Proposal, and then the responders go to committee…” Can you see that it’s likely you aren’t talking to the Decision Maker in this scenario? Or that they are not moving very quickly? These are critical pieces of information for you to know to determine if you want to try to continue selling to these people. Maybe you do want to continue, and maybe you don’t... but you’ll know a lot more than you would have otherwise thanks to The Magic Question!

What happens if you don’t ask The Magic Question? You run a great risk of wasted time, energy, and money. We’ve all spent too much time on leads that didn’t pan out. I find that if I don’t ask this question early enough in the sales process, I either sell to the wrong person and I have to go repeat my sales steps over again 2 or 3 more times, OR I misunderstand the timeframe/urgency for the prospect’s decision process creating a missed opportunity.

Any way The Magic Question is answered, you get information that is worth its weight in gold!

Catherine Brown leads ExtraBold Sales as a sales trainer. She is a highly sought after speaker. Discover more of her work at

David Skidmore