Want More Sales? Ask better Questions!
I've done a lot of sales training.
In fact, I've done so much sales training I couldn't tell you how many hours or how many books I've read, how many audio's I've listened to or how many courses I've done. But, I can tell you that just about every single thing I've read, listen to or attended have taught me one thing… the correlation between your ears and your mouth.
You've got two ears and one mouth. So you should do twice as much listening as talking in the sales meeting.
Now, one of the keys to being great at sales is asking the right questions. Nobody likes to be pitched to. Think about the sales meetings you have been in and when you completely tuned out. What happened during those meeting that made you think about anything but what the person was saying?
When I get a call from somebody who wants to pitch me something and instead of asking questions to find out what I want to get out of what it is they might offer or what my frustrations or problems are that they might be able to solve, they just tell me what they've got to offer without even considering whether or not I’m even interested. I call it sales vomit. It’s just vomiting on your prospect by just blabbing out of your mouth about what you think is important, when you haven’t checked to see what the prospect wants to get out of the conversation.
So, the key to getting a sale is asking the right questions. To do this, you need to understand a little bit about the psychology of asking questions. Now, there are several types of questions that you can ask.
I always suggest starting with open-ended questions to begin the sales relationship. They are questions that start with who, what, where, when, why, and how. For example; when was the last time you… How many times a week do you…. What kind of things have you done to try and fix… Where have you looked before in the past to solve this problem…
By asking these open ended questions there are two things that are happening. First of all, you can’t get a yes or no answer to an open ended question. By saying something like “when was the last time you looked at an alternative provider” they can’t just say yes, they have to answer the question. Now, if they say “last month” then you have to get them to elaborate a little bit more on it. So if they tell me last month, ask when last month and what happened during that conversation. How did you go, what questions did you ask? What did you feel when you looked around? What did you find? Who did you speak to? So all of these open ended questions are going to help you gather information about what the prospects experience was and then how can you help them. Asking the right questions helps you identify what they need so you can offer the right solution.
The second most important thing about asking questions is that I only ask a yes or no question that either I already know the answer to or the answer doesn't really matter. So if I'm not selling spaghetti and I ask if they like spaghetti, whether they say yes or no it doesn't matter. But if it’s important that they say yes that they like spaghetti, I'm not going to ask that unless I know they’re going to say yes. That’s called a rhetorical question. For example, there’s a great marketing company that say “ Imagine if every time you switched on a light, you used the power, you had a telephone conversation, or could see someone you were making money. Would you like to find out more about that?”. Would that be a worthwhile thing? It’s very hard for you to say no to that, right?
Now, that is probably a little bit too good to be true. You have to be careful when you’re asking your questions that it doesn't sound too good to be true, because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some more examples of rhetorical questions are: Would you like to make more money? The answer is usually yes. Would you like to live longer? The answer is probably going to be yes. Would you like to be fitter, would you like to be better looking? All of these are questions that you're going to answer yes to. Would you like to die early? Of course the answer is going to be no. So by asking questions that I know the answer to, I can control the conversation. That really is the key to getting a sale.
The whole idea behind this is that you want to make sure that your customer is telling you everything that they can possibly tell you so you can come up with the right solution. The purpose of asking open ended questions that start with who, what, where, when, why, and how is to gather information. Then I can say “based on what you told me, I think that this might benefit you”. You can also offer them an either-or solution, for example “We have A or B, which one do you think is going to suit you better?”
It is important to remember that in any sales relationship you want to do more listening than you do speaking. If you’re doing all the talking, your prospect is probably going to go to sleep and they’re not going to want to buy from you. Hopefully this has helped you understand a little bit more about how to ask the right questions to get the sale.
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.