Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse!

Published on April 2, 2001

The consequence question highlights the impacts your customers are likely to face by ignoring the resources you offer. It is the key question for introducing positive change into a sales interview. It provides your customers with self-justification of why it is in their best interests to accept your proposal.

The more realistic and compelling the impacts you build up through effective questioning, the easier it will be to demonstrate to your prospects that the cost of staying where they are is going to be greater than the cost of the change you’re identifying. If that really is the case, and if you can ask appropriate consequence questions that “hit ’em where they live”-you will get the business!

A typical consequence question might go like this: “Mr. Smith, what are the consequences of your not reaching your 20% cost reduction goal? What would it mean to your shareholders, to you and to your customers?”

Consequence questions generally follow a series of other questions; they cannot stand-alone nor be the first questions you ask a prospect or customer. However, there is no limit to the amount and types of questions you can ask. The trick is to uncover as many consequences to inaction as possible so that ultimately the cost of not accepting your proposal is perceived as greater than the cost of securing your solution. You must uncover all the consequences and quantify them as dramatically and credibly as you possibly can. In the end, the consequence question is a tool that will help you correctly position the value proposition you offer to your customer and enables them to accept the change you want them to make.


1. The consequence question is key to introducing positive change.

2. You must be able to demonstrate what the consequences are if the customer does not take advantage of your solution.

3. Uncover as many consequences as you can, and quantify them dramatically and credibly.

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