This is our third blog aimed specifically at questioning skills for salespeople. The third in a trilogy, a bit like Lord of the Rings but without the elves.
Let’s be clear – salespeople show their competence, intelligence and client focus by the questions they ask.
We can’t stress strongly enough how important questions are to the salesperson. But how you ask the questions is as important as the questions themselves. If you ask a lot of closed questions, it will seem like an interrogation to your customers and it will be very difficult to get a real discussion going. You want to focus on having a 2-way conversation where the customer feels at ease and is prepared to tell you, if not their innermost secrets, their specific needs as they relate to your business. A bit like chatting to your best mate in the pub on Friday night.
One of the challenges for salespeople is that customers often don’t know what they need. In the words of the eminent Harvard business professor Theodore Levitt – “People don’t want quarter inch drills, they want quarter inch holes.”
The optimal outcome of needs-based selling is in creating the need in the mind of the customer. It’s like anything, if you come up with your own solution, you’re much more likely to be committed to making it work. So for salespeople, having your customer come up with their own solution is like sales nirvana, a bit like scoring the winning goal or hitting the winning shot in a grand final.
Sales is about being forensic and inquisitive. And nosey. Yes nosey! The more you can learn about your customers the more you’ll be able to position the benefits of your solution to meet their needs. People buy from people they know and trust, and the best way to build trust, and relationships, is to learn all you can about them and their business. In our experience, the better you understand their needs the stronger you will build the relationship.
Final word on the subject to American sales guru Jill Konrath:
“The best sales questions have your expertise wrapped into them”