The brain is the most wonderful computer on the planet. In fact, it’s pretty much an insult to the brain to compare it to a computer.
Even the most powerful computer built is left a distant second to the brain in efficiency ratings.
The interesting thing about human brains is it is always searching for meaning.
When it’s faced with a situation, new or old, it will automatically ask itself (hence, you!) ‘what does this mean?’
In other words, questions are the way the brain computes information and analyses what it should do with it. Think about it. Ask yourself a question now. Any question.
What did your brain immediately start doing? Trying to find the answer!
Asking questions, of course, has been the habitual way that most salespeople have started their meetings for years. But how about the quality of questions you ask? Have yours improved over the years you have been in sales? Or have they basically been the same, not stretching or challenging the buyer to think on a different level?
The fact is, the quality of the question will determine the quality of the response and information you receive.
So what would be the best quality questions to ask in a sales meeting? Here are some guidelines:
1) Ask questions that prove you’ve done your homework
By asking basic questions like, ‘What do you do here?’ and ‘How many people do you employ?’ you’re proving that you haven’t done your research and it takes a long time to get to the position of moving the conversation on. Instead, show how important the prospect is in your eyes with questions like, “I noticed from my research that your sales have levelled out after a promising start this year and that fewer customers are repeating their orders. What impact is this starting to have on your revenues?”
2) Have a few questions written down but make them conversational
There’s value in pre-planning questions so you get the relevant information to assist you in presenting solutions, but don’t get your notebook out and interrogate the prospect with a long list.
Instead, listen to the answers they give to your initial questions and frame conversational questions around them.
For instance, after one bit of information you gain, you could say, “That’s interesting, could you elaborate on that for me, please?” Or “I didn’t realise that. Why do you think that is happening and what are your plans based on those results?”
This makes the buyer feel it’s a proper consultative conversation, not an interrogative process they are sitting through.
3) Ask yourself, what information should I get that will help me find the solution for this specific situation in the most efficient and effective way?
The best questions you can ask are those that drive the conversation on to a level where decisions can be made. If the buyer gives you loads of valuable information through your quality questions, you are then armed with the ability to make concise and concrete suggestions, backed up with the knowledge that you are solving the precise problems the prospect is currently facing.
Each of these guidelines will help you establish a good standing with the buyer, as they will see you uncovering problems that might not have been obvious before. This will help you build a natural bridge to help them gain solutions quickly and more easily.
So, just as the brain is more efficient than the biggest computer, you are tapping into the one thing that will get you answers to problems more efficiently and effectively than anything else; quality questions!
MTD Sales Training
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One of the best qualities that we can develop in sales is the skill of asking questions. Being able to obtain information from prospects is a pre-requisite to providing answers and services to them.
When we ask salespeople what type of questions they ask of their prospects, they often reply with ‘open’ and ‘closed’ questions. These are the basic questions that a person can ask. But there are more ‘types’ of questions that will help you get deeper and more concise information. Here are a series of different questions you can ask that will get you quality answers.
What you’ll see is how many questions cross over each other, so some clarifying questions may also be open, focussed and reflecting as well. Some leading questions may be probing and clarifying. So the real point is not to think ‘what type of question should I ask?’ It’s ‘How can my quality of questions get the best out of the discussions I am having?’
Be aware of the way you can get the client to consider different options with the different format of questions, and you’ll find you get better quality answers from your prospects.
MTD Sales Training
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After a recent visit to a trade show, I felt I had to point out a few of quick thoughts that we all need to keep in mind. I am going to make this short and sweet and not going to give you too much, because that is the problem—TOO MUCH!
#1 – Too Much Fanfare
Please, tone it down a bit. I understand that some businesses and products need a little more trumpet-blasting than others do. However, for most, it is just over-the-top. Usually, it is a professional fair, show or exposition—not circus. I also understand that you often need something to help draw attention, but if you would never do it at your place of business, perhaps you should not do it at a trade show.
Also, at least make sure the attention getter relates to what you do. Come on; if you sell accounting software, I don’t see how the clown doing balloon tricks makes any sense.
#2 – Too Much Stuff
You obviously need a lot of marketing material at your booth, but don’t go crazy with this. When you give people too many options of things they can pick, they usually choose to pick up nothing. Narrow the parameters.
Part of the problem is that many sales and marketing people realize that a select few pieces of their normal material is insufficient for a trade show. Therefore, they put out EVERYTHING. Why not create a piece or two specifically designed for the event?
#3- Too Much Talk
Why is it that so many sales people seem to take their normal sales process and throw it out of the window at a show? Even at the show, you still have to ask questions, uncover problems and expose need. However, for some reason, when standing at that booth, some sales people become automated-TV-commercials with no pause or off switch.
Prepare a list of questions to ask people that stop by. Have at least one powerful “hook” question that will make attendees stop and think and simultaneously, help you begin to qualify the prospect.
Trade shows are simply another prospecting avenue and deserve the same diligent and professional sales processes that you use with other prospecting methods.
MTD Sales Training
(Image by Mark McLaughlin)
I’m asked a lot about the value of asking the right sales questions, so much so that I put a free report together on the homepage of the blog on the top 23 sales questions to use with your prospects!
You see, in any sales interaction you need to adopt the PULL rather PUSH mentality.
What I mean by this is that you don’t just PUSH benefits down the throat of your prospect. Instead, you pull out the problems and pain from your prospect and then you SOLVE the problem with what you offer.
So when you go into your next sales interaction remember to PULL out the problems and pain by asking effective questions. You need to assume the position of a doctor!
Now a doctor will perform a thorough examination before writing out a prescription and so should you.
And just like a doctor remember this:
“Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice!”
So, in summary: Pull out the problems first and then solve them. Ask questions, listen and make sure you unearth what EXACTLY the issues, problems and pain is before you SOLVE them!
MTD Sales Blog
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