A Message From Tom
Asking the Right Questions?
Everyone knows that sellers must understand the customer’s needs, and the extent to which an opportunity is mutually beneficial. That’s why “discovery” and “qualification” will always be staples in every sales process.
But, have you ever wondered why some salespeople are ‘killing it’ while others are struggling to keep their heads above water? The answer is simple. Just because we (sellers) want to ask lots of questions, doesn’t mean potential buyers will be open to sharing information with every salesperson who comes calling.
Therein lies the rub. At every company, some salespeople are more effective than others, even though they’re all offering the same types of products and services to similar target audiences. Why do you suppose there’s such a wide variation in sales effectiveness and results when everyone is simply trying to probe for needs and qualify opportunities?
It’s because just asking a bunch of questions is no longer the defining skill set in selling. Frankly, you can teach a fifth grader to read a script filled with sales questions.
The real skill in selling today is causing prospects to “want to” share information with a salesperson they don’t yet know or trust. Said differently, if someone doesn’t “want to” share with you, it doesn’t matter what questions you ask–the conversation is going nowhere.
The best way to motivate a salesperson, or an entire sales team, is to give them specific strategies and techniques that will enable them to create more opportunities, win more deals, and then repeat their successes! — T. Freese
While questions can help salespeople identify customer needs and qualify opportunities, asking questions ‘strategically’ has become one of the best ways to accomplish a host of other important sales objectives as well, including:
- Gain more credibility sooner and convey greater value.
- Leverage curiosity to secure more mindshare from key decision makers.
- Differentiate yourself and your offerings from the competition.
- Increase the customer’s sense of urgency to move forward.
- Shorten the sales cycle and protect profit margins.
- Navigate to the right people within target accounts.
- Broaden the size and scope of forecasted opportunities.
- Secure commitments for the next step in the sales process.
It turns out that in addition to “what” you ask, “how” you structure your questions can make or break an opportunity to engage potential buyers, or even close a sale. Trouble is, while everybody talks about the importance of asking good sales questions, most salespeople are left to their own devices to figure out what questions to ask and how best to ask them.
Might it be time to think about upgrading your own sales strategy?
By identifying various triggers that cause buyers to “want to” engage in more in-depth conversations about their needs and your value, a savvy salesperson can significantly increase their sales Return on Invested Sales Effort (ROISE), along with the company’s bottom line results.
–Thomas A. Freese, President, QBS Research, Inc.
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