In his sales management talk, Stephan Schiffman asserts that 90% of sales are lost in the information stage.
In other words, he's suggesting that many salespeople base their presentations off of assumptions as opposed to understanding. Schiffman outlines four crucial components that salespeople must know before working on their pitch: are you talking to the right person? Are you talking about the right product or service? Are you talking about the right pricing? And finally, are you talking about a realistic time table? You can arrive at the answers to these questions creatively; for instance, Schiffman advises that if you ask about the "how" and the"when," then "the who will emerge."
The most important thing that you can glean from a prospective client is that they are not yet your customer. Schiffman encourages us to find out why that person is not your customer, noting that we communicate in stories. If you ask about the story behind something, you're more likely to get an elaboration, will which be helpful when forming a proposal.