How do you find out about a key number on a deal?
Do you dive right in and ask? However awkward or abstract, do you hear yourself uttering ‘how much is that?’
Whether you’re trying to identify their budget, pinpoint a principle pain or even delve into competitive positions, the brusque is fraught with issues.
Don’t think you dilute your directness with suffixed words like ‘roughly’ or ‘ballpark’.
There is a softer, yet more successful, way.
Ask for a ‘range’.
“What kind of range are we in here?”
That kind of approach.
You might still get the shackles raised, yes, but you will more often than before find a gentle way to ease you into a potentially tricky conversation and isolate the stat you really need.
Gentle synonyms could also apply; band, reach, span.
As a footnote, when prospects are happy to share some data but actually not so sure of it themselves, you can prompt them.
The method I use is to rattle off a trio of options. One way high, another way low, and a third either not far from where I think it may be or more commonly between the middle and the pole most favourable to the bid justification.
It can also lead to a genuinely more productive discussion too.