Modern sales training programs incorporate the principle of first asking questions to explore your prospects situation and requirements, rather than launching into an explanation of why your service or product is the best choice for them.
Unfortunately, for inexperienced sellers this advice can backfire
It can encourage sellers to ask question after question to uncover the prospect’s innermost needs and desires, firing off a barrage of questions such as:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- How long have you been doing that?
- Where is your office?
- How many staff do you have?
- What products do you sell?
- Who are your customers?
Without meaning to, the seller can turn the meeting into an interrogation.
A better approach is to …
Create a sales conversation
When you ask questions you should be aiming to create a conversation.
Sometimes if you get nervous it’s tempting to keep asking questions, as that sort of puts you in control of the communication flow, and gives you something to say.
But that can be dangerous, because the other person can easily lose interest if they think all you are doing is ‘digging for gold’ – looking for information you can use to sell to them.
Suddenly your prospect gets turned off and feels like they are being manipulated.
The secret to creating an effective sales conversation is to share information as you ask
Share information as you ask your questions.
Sounds simple … but in reality sharing information and maintaining a free flowing discussion is quite challenging.
You need to read the conversation and know when it is appropriate to add some extra information without interrupting what the other person is saying.
What sort of information can you add?
- Industry data or statistics
- Client success stories
- A personal anecdote
- Refer to a recent (and relevant) news story
- A snippet of detail about why you deliver your services/products they way you do
Very important note:
During this conversation you are not really ‘selling’, you are exploring by listening. Your objective should be to find out more about the prospect. You want to fully explore their situation and understand their requirements so you can effectively handle the sales discussion. And you need to know that before you present your products, services, or solutions to them.
Asking questions is very important.
Even more important is ‘how’ you ask the questions and your ability to maintain a free flowing conversation that allows you to be authentic and really get to understand the other person, their priorities, and their concerns.