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Have you ever sat with someone you just met and found yourself disconnected from the conversation?
The chances are that the other person seemed more interested in themselves than in connecting with you. It’s not your fault that you’ve lost interest in what is being said: if the other guy isn’t interested in what you have to say, why would you be interested in what he is saying? If he doesn’t ask engaging questions, how can he expect to engage with you?
The quickest way to lose a sale – or an opportunity to sell – is to stop listening. But in order to listen, you’ve got to utilize questioning strategies that give the other person the opportunity to tell you everything you need to know to close the deal.
Rule one of question-based selling is to ask engaging questions, and make sure those questions lead you to the information you need.
If you don’t ask the right questions, how will you ever know what the client needs, desires, and expects?
If your salespeople are having a tough time in the market and have reported back that they are “wasting time with the wrong people” or “not able to qualify the right leads”, then a review of their questioning strategies is urgently needed.
When using question-based selling, you’re inviting the prospect to engage with you and tell you about themselves, their business, their clients, and their needs. The aims of your questioning strategies should be to encourage the prospect to:
A good salesperson will ask engaging questions that encourage the prospect to reflect about the challenges they face. Open-ended questions give the prospect the opportunity to be expansive, and by asking such questions the salesperson will find out more about the prospect’s business and its needs. Using this knowledge, your salesperson will be able to demonstrate empathy and the benefits of your product or service to the prospect (now about to become a client).
At this stage, having identified the client’s needs and demonstrated that your product and/or service meets those needs and provides the benefits that will make a difference to the client’s business, the salesperson will move to closed-ended questions to close the sale. (Of course, the sale could be the acceptance of a meeting to discuss further with the aim of product/service sale at that meeting.)
Compare the approach above with that of a salesperson who is desperate to sell. The whole client meeting is about the product or service. The client will be told plenty, but will leave unsure of how the product really does what is needed. Often such a meeting ends with the salesperson asking, “Is there anything else you need to know?” The stock answer should not come as a surprise: “No, I think you’ve covered everything. I’ll be in touch.” And the salesperson doesn’t hear from the client again.
The salesperson has silently asked himself (or herself) the questions that he wants to answer. There is so much anxiety to close the sale that the potential sale sinks faster than the Titanic:
Today’s clients distrust salespeople that come across as commission driven: the client wants to feel in charge of their own destiny and buying decisions. A salesperson who comes across as genuinely interested in the client and the client’s problems will be seen as helpful, and wants to make a real difference. And that makes closing the sale an easier proposition.
Question-based selling encourages the client to review their own situation, identifying the problems encountered currently and in the future. The salesperson builds rapport, and opportunities for empathy are uncovered.
The salesperson, by listening to answers given to their engaging questions, will now be in a position to demonstrate specific product and service advantages that provide the solution and benefits the client really needs.
With the advantage of using question-based selling techniques identified and accepted, the salesperson will need to build a questioning strategy to benefit from the new approach. The first step is in the preparation of questions to ask:
Other considerations will include language to be used (power words will come into play), the order of questioning, and potential follow-up questions.
Using a question-based selling strategy gives the salesperson a number of advantages:
But these are not the only benefits:
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these four questions, make a start to revitalizing your sales team today by downloading the free sales training resource, The Power of the Question. After you’ve had time to digest and act on the sales advice contained in this resource, our coaching team will follow up with further free tips, information, and advice that will help transform your sales team and put your bottom line to where it should be.
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