Often times in life (and business) people are looking for answers but neglect to ask the right questions first.
As Einstein put it: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
In sales, asking a good question the right way can make a huge difference in the way it is answered in return and this can impact your ability to move the sales process forward successfully.
From the buyer’s perspective, it is more or less the same question he will get from your competitors but having yours asked in the right way puts you in a much more informed and better position to win the sale.
Your goal is to not only understand why you are asking a question, but to ask it in a way that moves you towards the outcomes you need to win the opportunity.
"Asking good questions is a productive, positive and creative way to get us what we want and serves as a pointer that aim us in the direction of the answer we are looking for.”
The right question can be a disruptive agent, cutting through people’s complacency and opening their minds to new ideas. And even if the answers end in negative results, it is better to work from a position of knowledge than a void of information and related options.
As a sales business, effective questions will help you gain the following:
Connecting with your clients in a more meaningful way,
Understanding your client's problems/positions better,
Have your clients experience you as understanding and competent and win their trust in you,
Improve your negotiation skills,
Planting ideas and
Whether it is cold call, or the start of a face to face meeting, sales people are the likely ones that kick things off. This places us in the ideal
position to steer the conversation that ensure relevancy to both parties.
Similarly, when sales people initiate a conversation without clear direction there is a real risk of wasting an opportunity.
Here are a few factors to consider when formulating your questions:
- -The first question you ask will immediately influence the response you get – whether it be positive or negative – it could also mark the course for ensuing topics that may come into the discussion.
- -A good question goes beyond what question you ask, but how you ask the question remembering that people have different habits in giving their answers. Some will expand, providing more information than asked. Others will answer with short precise answers not volunteering anything other than what was asked. You need to be prepared with a contingency plan for all scenarios if you want to win the deal.
- -Another factor is where we are in the sales cycle. Early in the cycle reps tend to ensure all their bases are covered, and that they are maximizing their opportunity to move things forward. As they get comfortable with the prospect(s), around mid-cycle or later, the situation seem more familiar and some may say (mistakenly) more predictable. Be careful of losing grip on the process and allowing for unnecessary risk.
Like many other tricks of the trade, a good sales person should be familiar with the basic communication rules and practices that comes with the territory. These refer in part to clever questions and when leveraged right, can make all the difference in winning deals. Also, if the same questions are asked in a less targeted way – it could see your whole sales process get stuck or even losing deals altogether.
So, ask yourself this: Is your sales business asking the right questions the wrong way? And how will you change this?
Predictable Success can examine your sales processes and deliver an accurate roadmap after determining where you’re on track and where you need a course correction. Predictable Success can provide a cost/benefit analysis and expert recommendations to improve your sales performance on every level.