Written by Sean McPheat |
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!
Originally published: 31 July, 2014