Get a piece of string that is approximately six inches long. Sit down at a table and lay the string out in a straight line starting at the edge of the table in front of you and running towards the opposite side of the table.
Grab the closest end of the piece of string between your thumb and first finger and push it across the table making sure to maintain the straight line. Can you do it? I can’t.
Put the string back in a straight line. Go around to the other side of the table. Grab the closest end of the string between your thumb and your first finger and pull it across the table. Can you keep it in a straight line?
Just like you need to pull a piece of string to keep the line straight, you need to pull customers in the right direction to close the sale. When you make statements you are pushing customers. When you ask questions you are pulling them. It is difficult to push a customer to a sale. It is easier, and better long term, to pull them to the sale.
Great sales professionals develop great sales questions. Your questions will deal with three time periods; the past, the present, and the future.
Questions about the past allow you to uncover valuable information. You get to find out what has worked, what hasn’t, what someone likes, and what someone doesn’t like. Questions about the past will give you clues about what to avoid and what to look for as a possible direction to guide your prospect. They say the past predicts the future, and many times this is true.
Possible questions about the past that you could ask are:
What product/service have you used in the past?
What did you like about that product?
What did you not like about that product?
What did you like about the vendor?
What did you dislike about the vendor?
How did this product help your company prosper?
Have you encountered any problems because of past products you’ve used?
What has prompted you to change suppliers in the past?
Questions about the present will disclose a prospect’s most immediate needs and pains. These questions will give you information about the situation that you need to solve in order to make the sale. Where the past will show trends and events that will influence a buyer, the present is where the problem must be discovered and solved.
Possible questions about the present that you could ask are:
What is your most pressing issue?
What is the best thing about your current supplier?
What is your biggest challenge you face with your supplier?
Does your supplier bring added value to your company?
What would prompt you to consider a change at this time?
Questions about the future deal with the dreams and aspirations of your prospect. You will discover the client’s goals and uncover the direction that they want to move forward to. Future oriented questions bring emotion into play. They allow the prospect to think big and create the ultimate opportunity for themselves or their business.
Possible questions about the future that you could ask are:
If this were a perfect world, what additional value would your supplier bring to you, or to your company?
Where do you see your company in five years, and how could a vendor help you get there?
If you had the perfect product what would it look like?
How can I help you reach your goals?
If we were doing business, and in one year we met to review the year together, what would have to have happened for you to feel good about that year?
By asking more questions you will be able to lead the person sitting across the table to the destination you desire. Maybe you are closing the sale for a big order. Maybe you are closing the sale of having another meeting. Maybe you are closing on an initiative that you want your colleagues to buy in on. Life is full of selling opportunities.
Develop an inventory of great questions. The more you use them the more you will become comfortable with them. Use perception to see what your customer is experiencing, and then ask questions designed to help solve their problems. Remember, it is never about your product or service. It is always about the benefits owning your product or service brings your client. Use your questions to get the information you need to help your client own your product or service.
Asking better questions, and asking the right questions will lead you to success and help you Build a Better Biz!