My first book created quite a stir when Chapter 3 opened with this sentence: Traditional reference selling is highly overrated.
That divergence from traditional sales thinking shocked the establishment as virtually every sales training program created in the last 40 years talks about the importance of reference selling.
References are important—but so is differentiation; and it’s no longer an effective to use references just like everyone else. In Question Based Selling, our goal is to show sellers how to be different from everyone else. One way to accomplish this is to create a sense of momentum in your sales using The Herd Theory—which is a technique that ironically leverages “everyone else.”
Salespeople tend to listen with ‘happy ears,’ hoping to get some indication that they are making progress within their opportunities, and that they are heading in the right direction. As a result, sellers tend to ask “hopeful” questions like:
“Mr. Customer, does your boss like our proposal?”
“Would next Tuesday work for a conference call?
“Are we still in good shape to wrap this deal up by the end of the week?
Unfortunately, asking hope-filled questions tend to yield less information that also tends to be less accurate than the alternative. In short, we live in a culture where it’s easier to sidestep the truth, or event tell a little fib than it is to share information that is different than they obviously wouldn’t want to hear.
In Question Based Selling, we leverage a strategy called neutralizing the Disposition of your questions. It’s uncanny, but if you are If you are open and willing to invite good news and bad news, instead of just thinking about your own goals, you stand to receive exponentially more (and more accurate) information about the status of the opportunity.
Therefore, it’s much more productive to invite complete information by asking questions like:
“Mr. Customer, does your boss have questions or see any problems in our proposal?”
“Would Tuesday work for a conference call, or is that too soon to get all the key people together?
“Are we still in good shape to wrap this deal up by the end of the week, or do you think it could stall once it hits the CFO’s desk?
Critics of this could argue that it gives the customer an “out.” But I believe most customers know that they don’t have to buy from you. Therefore, I will gladly trade all of the “outs” customers don’t know they have for the volumes of accurate information I receive in return.
Check out this video excerpt where Tom speaks about the difference between motivational speakers, and actually teaching salespeople “how” to be more effective.
“Zig Ziglar was by far the best motivational speaker I have ever heard. But as with other motivation speakers, after I ventured back out into my territory ready to conquer the world, it was easy to revert back to whatever I was doing previously, in which case, I got the same lousy results. Thus, whatever levels of newfound enthusiasm one might get from listening to ‘motivational’ speakers tend to be short-lived.” – T. Freese
Sales organizations used to attempt to motivate salespeople as a way to increase productivity. Today, the opposite is true. If you invest the time to actually teach salespeople “how” to be more effective, they will be much more motivated to repeat their successes. I don’t about you, but to me, there’s nothing more motivating that having an ‘unfair’ advantage throughout the sales process.
This QBS LIVE clip features Tom explaining the differences between Question Based Selling and traditional sales training, including some of the more well known programs like Solution Selling, Strategic Selling, Power Based Selling, SPIN Selling, and Target Account Selling.
Having an internal sales process in place is fine. But just having a sales process no longer affords sales teams any advantage. All your competitors have a sales process in place also, and their process is more than likely very similar to yours. – T. Freese
If you look around any sales organization you will quickly notices that some salespeople are significantly more effective than others, using the exact same process. This enables us to conclude that just following the steps of the sales process isn’t want defines success in sales. Rather, it’s HOW you execute each of the phases of the sales process that will ultimately determine whether you are chosen as the selected vendor, or you are consistently coming in second place.