As sales people, our job is to ask questions but how do we know if we are asking the right ones? Where you are in the sales process should determine what type of questions you should be using. There are two very basic sales questions types we can ask new prospects during the introductory sales meeting with them. These can be either Factual or Targeted.
Factual questions are what most sales people anchor to during a first encounter. We ask things like ‘How many people have you got here’…. ‘In how many locations’…. ‘Who is your current supplier’ and so on. An over-reliance on factual questions is not good sales practice. In fact, we tend to ask more factual questions than we think or would like to.
So ask yourself this, who benefits most from this line of questioning? The prospect or you? Generally, the prospect acquires no new knowledge from this approach. This can be somewhat off putting as the prospect may feel they are wasting valuable time unnecessarily educating you about them. For this very reason, factual questions can irritate experienced buyers. There are situations when such questions are necessary for sure, but you will find a little homework will answer most of them for you in advance of the meeting. Going in with this work done will make you appear professional and leave more meeting time for more progressive discussions.
On the other hand, Targeted Questions look more like, ‘how satisfied are you with…. ‘what is getting in the way of you achieving’…. ‘what challenges are you experiencing with’…. Give yourself the opportunity to learn more about your prospect’s challenges and hurdles by asking these targeted open-ended questions in the limited time you have. Your most important outcome at this early stage of the sale is to uncover their true motivation for looking for a solution to their current pain-point. Without pain there is rarely a sustained call to action. If you don’t fully understand the reasoning for this pain it may be more luck than judgement that gets you the sale.
Once you have clearly qualified their need and want, then it is pertinent to start asking Questions of Consequence. These relate directly to the prospect’s current pain-points being experienced. ‘How is this affecting sales’…. ‘What are the consequences to your business if’…. ‘With the correct solution what immediate and long-term benefits can you see’…. Spend as much time as you can discussing the effects and consequences for the prospect in terms of corrective versus no action been taken.
Help your sale chances by focussing all of your efforts on the prospect’s challenges so that it becomes large and important enough for them to justify action being taken. This is key to making the sale! Questions of consequence is pivotal if you want to build a ‘Needs Development Strategy’ in to your pitch. By increasing your prospect’s perception of value in what you have to offer will increase your chances of winning exponentially!
Want your sales teams to be able to do this and achieve more better quality sales? Just pop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get the conversation started.