Despite what you might think, the most important part of your sales isn’t your product or services, how knowledgeable you are about it, or how excited you are about selling it — it’s the quality of the questions you ask in sales conversations.
I can’t stress this strongly enough: be in no doubt that your sales results will be directly influenced by the quality of questions you ask.
So how good are YOUR questions?
To sell effectively you need information. The people you’re selling to have it. You need it. And well crafted open questions are the way to get it!
What are open questions? Just questions that can’t be answered with a yes or a no. They’re so important in sales because when you’re trying to understand what your potential customers need and want, you need a lot more than a bunch of yeses and nos!
Asking open questions will get your potential customer talking, which helps them relax and helps the two of you build a genuine rapport in no time, because they’ll get a sense that you’re really interested in them and their needs.
In return, you get information — enough to make an internal judgement on how (or indeed if) you can help the other person. You’ll also to be able to match your offering specifically to their needs, because they’ll have told you what they are in response to your open questions.
By the way, you need to really listen to their answers! Don’t be so focused on asking your questions (or so excited that the conversation is going so well!) that you forget to actually listen and take in what they’re saying. This helps you get the information you need, and it keeps the sales conversations flowing much more freely. So listen properly and with good intent — and your next question will just appear naturally.
Some great open ended questions:
What’s going on for you in your business right now?
What are your biggest challenges right now?
What’s going well for you?
What’s not going so well for you at the moment?
Which areas are you most concerned about?
Where do you see your business being in X months/years time?
How do you see your business developing?
What action have you taken so far to…?
Where are you in terms of…?
What’s the next stage?
What about when they don’t give you the chance to ask?
This happens sometimes — a potential customer will arrive or get in touch and just ask about one product or service, without giving you time to ask your questions. The key here is to figure out why they’re interested in that particular product or service. After all, you might be out of stock and want to offer an alternative, or you may have a product that’s even better suited to their needs. Or you just want to build up rapport as you process the sale.
The question to really open up any conversation in these circumstances is…
“What attracts you to this XYZ?”
When answering this question the customer will give you their buying criteria (“It’s got this, it hasn’t got that”) – great information to help you complete the sale.
Finally, avoid questions starting with ‘Why’.
No matter how fluffy and soft you make them sound, they just come across as confrontational. When you ask a ‘why’ question, you’re asking for a justification of their response. Your client will often become defensive and give you an emotional response.
It takes practice
Think of your next selling or networking scenario. What information do you need to successfully promote your product or service? Now choose five open questions which will help you get that information.
Until next time,