The story goes, while most babies’ first words were Momma, or Dadda… the first phrase I ever uttered was, “What’s that?”

Don’t believe me? Ask any of my friends, coworkers, random strangers on airplanes, or professors I had in college… I haven’t stopped asking questions since. Sometimes it gets me in trouble but asking questions has always helped me be a better salesperson.

Its 2016, business owners expect you to know about their challenges, and with how easy it is to access information, they should. We’re probably not as busy as we think, but no one has time for a two hour sales call that starts with, “Tell me a little bit more about your industry.” You are the sales professional… use the internet.

So why are questions important?

Have you ever gone in and seen a doctor that asked you one question, made their best educated guess and then recommended surgery? Me either…but salespeople try it all of the time!

Questions help us demonstrate our expertise, uncover areas to grow revenue or cut cost, and ultimately make a customized recommendation to secure a sale.

So here’s why you clicked on this article:

5 Easy Steps to Asking Better Questions
Be curious – Every sales process starts with trust. As an inexperienced rep I worried about not knowing everything about my customer’s industry because I didn’t want to lose credibility. Don’t be like me. People like talking about themselves; also you would be shocked about how much info you can get from saying, “No kidding?”
Be patient – This is hard. We go on dozens of appointments so we assume we know the answers to questions we ask and we speed through the sales process so we can “close” our prospects. Being patient helps us a couple ways.
It lets us identify unique areas of opportunity-if you let them, your prospects will talk.
It proves to our prospects that we care about their business – unlike most salespeople they talk to.
It gives us time to ask meaningful questions – we’re not asking just to fill the silence.
No need to rush, what are they going to do…kick you out of their office?!?.

3. Use technique – It’s simple but effective.

(1)State well a recognized fact
(2)Make an observation based on your experience for credibility
(3)Tie the two things together and ask a question
Example:(1) Most people don’t plan on working until they day they die and would like to retire, (2) in my experience they start saving too late in life, end up working much longer than they want, and save much less money than they need to sustain their quality of life in retirement, (3) how do you plan on ensuring this doesn’t happen to you?

4. Clarify – Don’t make assumptions. Phrases like “increase revenue” and “upsell” get thrown around by customers all the time. Remember these are nondescript amounts and can often be relative values. Be sure to ask things like, “What do you mean?” “Why’s that?” “How so?’

There is no perfect question. I find that the most important information a customer will give you comes from asking them these questions and helping them define/qualify their answers.

5. Practice – Sorry, no secret here. Asking questions involves technique, therefore it is a skill, and therefore by working at it you will get better. You’ve heard it before, practice makes permanent. Work with your teammates to practice specific questions for upcoming appointments/calls. The more real you can make the scenario the more confident you’ll feel asking the questions.

Lastly, all the tips and techniques are useless unless you implement them! You’ll never get the answers you’re looking for if you don’t ask the questions!

So here’s my question to you.

Most people would love to work for a sports pro sports team, but they are intimidated to reach out to hiring managers and they struggle to find a position because they are afraid of failing, what are you doing today to ensure that’s not you?

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