The 3 Buyer Questions Social Sellers Must Answer

Buyers have only three questions on their mind. Learn how social selling can help you answer their questions by sending the right content at the right time.

December 16, 2014


Buyers love it when sellers provide relevant and timely insights that can help their business. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense that sending the right content at the right time can help you make a valuable new connection, or strengthen an existing relationship.

Yet, few buyers openly declare where they are in the sales cycle. So how do you know when to share links to research, or reach out with a case study that describes how a client solved a similar challenge? And when is the appropriate time to ask a mutual connection for an introduction?

One key way to identify your prospects’ buying stage is to watch the discussions they start in LinkedIn Groups. As sales expert Jamie Shanks recently shared in the Achieving Social Selling Success eBook, researching buyers have only three questions on their mind. If you can catch a prospect asking one of these questions, you can take full advantage of the opportunity by matching your answer to their current buying stage.

Here are the three main questions buyers have, and how you should respond to them:

  1. What problem/challenge am I facing?

    During the initial research stage, a buyer is trying to determine if they need a new solution. They may not be getting the results they want, or they may not be satisfied with their current provider. Even though buyers in this stage are not yet ready to purchase, it can be well worth your time to reach out to them and begin a relationship. Research shows that up to 50% of buyers eventually purchase from the first sales professional to contact them.

    To identify a prospect in this exploratory research stage, look for questions such as:

    • Why is this not working?
    • Why are my results not what I expect?
    • Is there a way to do this better, faster, or cheaper?

Buyers in this stage want to connect with experts who can provide guidance as they move towards a purchase. To start a relationship with a prospect in this stage, focus on being a valuable resource rather than telling a compelling sales message. Point your prospect towards third-party research or ask them questions that will help them identify and define their problem. If you have a connection in common, this is also a good time to ask for an introduction.

  1. How do I solve this problem?

    After a buyer has figured out what they need to fix, they move into solution-finding mode. During this stage, two-thirds of B2B buyers research how to solve their business challenge on social media.

A prospect in the solution-finding stage will ask questions such as:

  • How can I find information about this challenge?
  • How do I fix this problem?
  • How do other companies with similar challenges approach this?


Even though buyers in this stage may appear to be looking for solutions, they are actually still trying to grasp the extent of their problem. Instead of telling a buyer how you can solve a problem for them, the best approach is to share educational resources such as case studies, SlideShare presentations, and “how-to” articles. If you find that many prospects are asking a similar question, consider writing your own problem-solution post on the LinkedIn publishing platform. This will help prospects see you as an expert when they visit your profile.

  1. Who can help me solve my problem?

    This is the question buyers ask when they have completed their research and have decided to make a purchase. Buyers in this stage often have a clear idea of what they need, and are now looking for a solution provider.

    To identify a prospect on the verge of making a purchase, look for questions such as:

    • Who have you worked with before?
    • Who do you recommend?
    • What is important to keep in mind when looking for a solution provider?

Buyers in this stage want to know why they should work with you. Answer this question by sharing case studies about how you have solved similar challenges for other clients. You can also prepare to approach buyers in this stage by asking past and current clients if they are willing to act as a reference for you. The majority (63%) of C-level/VP-level buyers ask their network about vendors before making a purchase, so it certainly pays to document your success stories and case studies on LinkedIn.

To get the best results from your social selling efforts, identify which of the three buyer questions your prospect is really asking, and then match your response to their current buying cycle stage.

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