Armand Farrokh
March 15, 2024
Screenshot 2024-03-04 at 8.08.16 PM

I've heard it from even the best reps I've ever coached: I know I need to find a problem, but I don't know how to get them talking about problems without feeling salesy.

Everyone knows they need to get to pain. But if you ask cringey leading questions, your prospect will clam up and do the exact opposite of sharing their problems.

Enter: Charles Muhlbauer. There's no single guest in the history of 30MPC who has been more impactful on my and Nick's ability to artfully ask discovery questions.

Let's breakdown three of Charles' go-to questions as pictured above.

Use "Typically" Questions To Find A Problem

When you first jump onto a call, you often start with "why'd you take the call?"

But from there, many prospects will either leave you with a surface-level problem or not have much to say beyond the fact that they wanted to window shop.

When this happens early in the call, you want to raise problems using typically language. It's simple: find the 3 most common problems you solve and suggest them.

Here's an example if we were selling 30MPC sponsorships:

Typically when I'm talking to other marketing leaders, they're come to us with one of 3 common problems:

1. Sales teams don't know who you are...
2. Sales teams know you for 1 product, but you sell 3...
3. Sales teams know you, but it's hard converting awareness into intent...

Which one is it for you?

When you raise problems, typically (see what I did there) you accomplish three things:

  • You keep the conversation focused on problems you can actually solve
  • You demonstrate industry expertise by sharing problems from their peers
  • You draw attention to problems they may not have considered solving with you

And from here, once you find a problem, you can turn it into a story.

Use Magic Moment Questions to Turn Problems Into Stories

There's no single question I use more than a magic moment question. When someone shares a problem, the easiest way to turn that problem into a story is to ask them: when was the moment you realized that was a problem?

Going back to our example, let's say someone shares that they reached out to us because they don't think sales teams know who they are. Watch how it turns into a story:

Nick: My guess is you didn't wake up and think "man, sales people really don't know who we are." I guess, when was the moment you realized that was a problem?

Prospect: If we're in a head-to-head, we win. But the other day we came across a deal that didn't even have us in the RFP, so we didn't even get the shot on goal.

It's really, really hard to answer this questions without sharing a specific story (aka, a moment) when they realized this problem manifested itself.

And if somehow they don't share a story, you can actually combine this question with typically language where you add on something like "was it a deal you never saw, a rep that complained about how much they had to educate their prospects, or something else?"

You'll get a story. And the final step is to turn that story into impact or trend.

Use Humbling Disclaimers To Turn Stories Into Trends

It's really uncomfortable to ask about business impact. You're basically asking someone to spill their guts on why this problem will lead to a massive fire in their business if they don't solve it.

So a humbling disclaimer is your key to making impact questions less awkward... by actually calling out the awkward nature of the question.

I recognize that this will sound absolutely ridiculous, but when you add any of these phrases to your question...

  • I recognize this might be out of bounds...
  • I know this is probably an awkward question...
  • I'm sure this is a tough one to answer but...

It all the sudden makes a cringey impact question less cringey. By the way, did you catch my humbling disclaimer before the bullets?

Here's how that sounds for 30MPC. When we want to turn that missed RFP into a trend, here's how we'd use a humbling disclaimer:

Nick: Agh, that's tough. I know this is probably an awkward question... but would it be ridiculous to assume that this is one of those things that needs to be fixed to hit the $50M pipeline goal?

Prospect: Haha, I think it'd be pretty hard to hit $50M in pipeline if no one knew who we were.

They'll never be comfortable questions. But they can be a little less awkward with the humbling disclaimer. And you only need to ask 1 or 2 to get to massive problems.


But don't take it from me. Listen to the man himself. Charles has been a multiple-time 30 Minutes to President's Club hall of fame guest.

From his first, second, third, and fourth appearances, it's always a treat.

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