Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How to Sell More Effectively by Asking the Right Questions


  • Make your prospect feel like you care. Many people long simply to be heard and understood. By focusing on your prospects and their problems through questions, you will show that you genuinely care about hearing their problems. And you should genuinely care, because you want to find out as much information as you can about their problems, especially how they perceive their problems.

  • Use questions to gather information which you can then use to position your product or service more effectively. Too many salespeople assume that they fully understand their prospects' problems. You need to ask questions at the right time about the right things in order to get the information you need to make the sale, or else you might lose credibility and lose the sale forever.

  • Ask questions that'll make your prospects aware of the consequences of their actions or inactions. At the end of the day, you will not be able to push your prospects into the sale. This is what most salespeople try to do. We have worked with countless salespeople who think that their product is the answer to their prospect's problem, and they push and push and push to show their prospect that they have the answer. But people resist, especially when you push too hard. That's why you must use questions not only to find out about your prospects' problems but also to make your prospect aware of the consequences of their actions or rather inactions, that is, what could happen to them if they don't buy your product.

  • Remember that all questions aren't equal. Some types of questions are more powerful than others. There are two basic types of effective sales questions.
  • - Trigger Questions. Just like a psychiatrist, your job is to get your prospect to open up and tell you what is on their mind. To do this, you must ask open-ended questions, that is, questions that require them to respond with a relatively complex answer rather than a simple yes or no. Remember, you want to get them talking. Closed questions, which allow your prospect to answer you with a yes or a no, don't get them to open up. Open-ended questions do. There are many types of effective question formats, but when in doubt, rely on the open-ended questions called Trigger Questions. Here are some examples of basic -- Trigger Questions:
    1) Can you tell me more about??
    2) Can you be more specific??
    3) Can you give me an example??
  • - Floater Questions. Another type of question allows you to test the waters and determine what your prospect is thinking is the Floater Question. Floater Questions enable you to ask hypothetical what-if questions that may help you to ask what might otherwise be uncomfortable questions to your prospects. Here are some examples of Floater Questions that the top salespeople use:
  • 1) I don't know if this is appropriate to ask right now, but what would you say if we made the following offer?? You see, the person isn't making a real offer, s/he is just floating one by the prospect to see the reaction.
    2) Let's say ____, then what happens next??
    3) Let's pretend ________ then would you??
    4) If I could get my colleagues to ..., do you think you could get your colleagues to???
    5) What would you say if???
    6) What would you do if???
    7) Would you buy today if???

  • Again, what you are doing is feeling your prospect out by putting them in a hypothetical situation. They will give you at least some idea of how much they are willing to spend, or what is important in the negotiation for them, or how close to buying they are.

    1) Make it easy for the customer to order.
    2) If you do not have the product or service the customer needs -- help him or her find that product or service.
    3) Don't focus on selling: focus on helping the prospect.
    4) Give the prospect all the information he or she needs.
    5) A sales program is concerned with three questions you must answer: (a) what are you selling?, (b) who are you going to sell it to? and (c) how are you going to sell it? Answer those and your sales program practically writes itself