When talking with your prospect and to determine what problems they are having, why they are interested in your product/service offering and to determine their needs, you will be asking them questions. Lots of questions!
You have the option of asking them either close ended questions, these are questions that you ask that have a one, two, or three word answer and give you very little information. Examples are:
- How long have you been in business? Ten years – 2 words
- Who is your current vendor? XYZ Corporation – Again 2 words
The other type of question to ask is the open ended question. This is to determine the who, how, where, when, why, and how come….. types of answers you are looking for that will require your prospect to tell you more than three words and give you a much more in depth answer along with insight into what their problem is, what they’re looking for in the way of features, benefits and other value of your product/service.
Open-ended questions are one of the most important tools for those who sell (as long as you listen).
They help you gather information, qualify sales opportunities, and establish rapport, trust and credibility.
If you consider yourself a professional, own (absolutely know) a repertoire of powerful open-ended questions… questions that are answered by more than a simple yes or no… questions where the prospect/ customer gets directly involved in the sales discussion.
The key here…
Ask the question and let the prospect/ customer give you their answer.
- No leading.
- No prompting.
- No interrupting.
Just in case you’ve not had the opportunity to put your questions down in writing, here are some of my favorites. You should have several additional questions specific to your industry, but these’ll get you more than started.
Write down the ones you find valuable. Memorize them for yourself and with your team. Practice them on your drive into work or on the way to your next appointment. Print them out. Post them near your phone. Pass them on to your team.
Information Gathering Questions
- What prompted you/ your company to look into this?
- What are your expectations/ requirements for this product/ service?
- What process did you go through to determine your needs?
- How do you see this happening?What is it that you’d like to see accomplished?With whom have you had success in the past?
- With whom have you had difficulties in the past?
- Can you help me understand that a little better?
- What does that mean?
- How does that process work now?
- What challenges does that process create?
- What challenges has that created in the past?
- What are the best things about that process?
- What other items should we discuss?
- What do you see as the next action steps?
- What is your timeline for implementing/ purchasing this type of service/ product?
- What other data points should we know before moving forward?
- What budget has been established for this?
- What are your thoughts?
- Who else is involved in this decision?
- What could make this no longer a priority?
- What’s changed since we last talked?
- What concerns do you have?
Questions toEstablish Rapport, Trust & Credibility
- How did you get involved in…?
- What kind of challenges are you facing?
- What’s the most important priority to you with this? Why?
- What other issues are important to you?
- What would you like to see improved?
- How do you measure that?
As you complete more and more sales calls, you will be able to add more open ended questions to this list. I recommend that you write them down, study them, memorize them, and use them when the time and situation is appropriate.
It will make you more successful.
Also remember, that in a sales call, the one who is asking the questions is in control. The person speaking is not.
After asking the questions, take the time to listen to what they are saying, write notes if necessary. If you are concerned about what your next question is and concentrate on that, you’re not listening and can miss something very important along with what your next question to ask will be based on what they say.
So ask open ended question, shut up, and listen.
Gr8ScottMiller – The $ales Turn-Around Expert